Losing contact with nature has become a serious concern in recent years, not only because it depletes children and adolescents’ physical health and well-being, but also because it creates apathy towards natural environments. Most past research has developed scales to measure adult’s connection with nature (CWN), leaving adolescents’ CWN a less examined academic question. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study is therefore to understand what Taiwanese adolescents experienced and perceived as CWN and thus re-evaluate existing CWN definitions and assumptions proposed in western cultural contexts. We adopted phenomenology and grounded theory as guiding methods to interview 10 junior and senior high school students (age 16-18) in northern urban Taiwan through open and relational sampling. We developed a three-construct CWN model that consisted of sensory engagement, emotional attachment, and symbolic meaning-making. Our findings also indicated that adolescents’ CWN was distinct from children and adults, and cultural differences may exist. Rather than a stable personality trait, adolescents’ CWN continued to develop and change with educational interventions. Based on our findings, we suggest designing a specific CWN scale for adolescents for future research and propose pedagogical principles to help educators to strengthen adolescents’ CWN.
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