The effect of Outward Bound high school programs on adolescents' self-concept, mental health, and coping strategies

James Neill
Last updated:
26 Apr 2007

Supervisor: Mr. B. Heubeck

Honours thesis, Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra, 1994

Chapter 1: Introduction


1.1. Adolescence

1.2. Intervention programs

1.3. Research questions

1.4 Aims of the present study

1.5 Hypotheses

1.1. Adolescence

1.1.1. General

Adolescence is the transitionary period between childhood and adulthood (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991a; Harper & Marshall, 1991). Adolescence encompasses the physiological changes of puberty - the rapid development of the child into an adult capable of sexual reproduction (Marieb, 1992). While puberty underlies adolescence, concurrent psychological and social changes contribute to make adolescence a crucial developmental stage (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991a; Siddique & D'Arcy, 1984) which partially determines the success of adult life (Compas, 1993; Newcomb, Huba, & Bentler, 1986).A wealth of research has investigated psychological aspects of adolescence, painting a mixed picture about the quality of adolescent life (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a; Nussbaumer, 1988; Siddique & D'Arcy, 1984; Violato & Holden, 1988). The 'classical' view, which comes from socially oriented literature, sees the lives of adolescents becoming increasingly grim. For example, the proportion of adolescents growing up in single-parent families, breaking the law, using drugs, and committing suicide is reported to be increasing, while academic performance, physical fitness, and employment are reported to be on the decrease (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1985; Braungart and Braungart, 1989; Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).
Empirical psychological findings, on the other hand, do not support such dire views (Compas, 1993; Feldman, 1990; Hattie, J.A., 1992; Siddique & D'Arcy, 1984; Stefanko, 1984). Stefanko (1984), for example, surveyed the 455 articles published between 1976 and 1981 in Adolescence™ and concluded that, "for the majority of adolescents, the transition to adulthood appeared to be relatively smooth, with predominant feelings of competence and affection associated with school, family, and peers" (p.9). Offer, Ostrov, Howard, and Atkinson (1988) conducted a cross-national self-image survey of 5938 adolescents in 10 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, Turkey, United States, and West Germany) and concluded that adolescents around the world are remarkably consistent in reporting a positive self-image. Despite these different pictures of the quality of adolescent life, there is general agreement that adolescence involves considerable changes and adaptation to new stressors. Some of these stressors, particularly for the 20% of adolescents who are experiencing serious problems at any one time (Stefanko, 1984), are so undesirable that most people would want to prevent them from happening in the first place.
However, for other stressors which are an inherent part of moving from childhood to adulthood, it may be more realistic to consider how adolescents' deal with them and whether their coping resources need to be strengthened. It has been shown in stress-related studies and cognitively-based intervention programs (Kutash, Schlesinger, & Associates, 1980; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) that the consequence of a stressor is dependent on psychological variables. By affecting key psychological processes it is theoretically possible to help adolescents deal more effectively with the stressors inherent in growing up and also to prepare them for facing unpredicted stressors which may arise in the future. This leads to two key questions:

(a) Which psychological processes determine the quality of adolescent life, and

(b) what intervention methodologies can affect them?

1.1.2. Self-concept

The 'self-concept' construct can be dated back over 2000 years to the Greek philosophers (Hattie, J.A., 1992), to the first century B.C. in Hindu scripture (Ewert, 1982), or to William James' (1890) "The Principles of Psychology". Self-concept's rich history has resulted in an abundance of definitions, models, theories and assessment methodologies. Some 10,910 'self-concept' entries appeared in Psychological Abstracts™ between 1974 and 1992 (Hattie, J. A., 1992). However major reviews have criticized self-concept research for a lack of consistent and sound theory and poor quality instrumentation (see Hattie, J. A, 1992; Marsh, 1990, 1992; Marsh, Parker, & Barnes, 1985; Wylie, 1979).
The current literature generally agrees that the self-concept is the product of cognitive appraisals an individual makes about his/her personal attributes (Hattie, J. A., 1992; Marsh et al., 1985; Van der Werff, 1990). The theoretical literature suggests that these self-appraisals occur frequently, making self-concept more dynamic and susceptible to change than relatively static psychological constructs such as personality dimensions (Heatherton & Weinberger, 1994).
Empirical evidence, on the other hand, tends to report high levels of stability for self-concept over time and relatively small changes induced by most intervention efforts (Hattie, J.M., 1992; Marsh, Richards & Barnes, 1986a, 1986b; Nussbaumer, 1988).
Theoretical views on the structure of self-concept range from unidimensional models to hierarchical, multi-dimensional models (Jackson & Bosma, 1990). J.A. Hattie's (1992) substantial review of self-concept research concludes that there is a lot of empirical support for a multi-dimensional model of self-concept, and some support for a hierarchical model (i.e. that there are higher order dimensions underlying the multiple dimensions). Uni-dimensional models of self-concept are evident in childhood and become multifaceted during adolescence (Hattie, J.A., 1992). This changing structure of self-concept is paralleled, and perhaps caused, by the cognitive development from the concrete operational level in childhood to the formal operational or abstract level in adolescence (Baker, 1982; Inhelder & Piaget, 1958; Piaget, 1969).
High self-concepts, that is positive self-appraisals, have a number of correlates. Some gender differences are found for specific self-concept scales - boys tend to report higher maths and physical self-concept scores, while girls tend to report higher social and verbal self-concept scores (Hattie, J.A., 1992; Marsh, et al., 1985; Wylie, 1979). However, major self-concept reviews consistently conclude that there are no gender differences for other self-concept dimensions and for total self-concept. Correlates that have been more strongly associated with higher self-concepts are:
(a) internal locus of control,
(b) desirable home environments,
(c) supportive and attentive communication style, and
(d) versatile and deep processing study skills (Hattie, J.A., 1992).
While these findings do not demonstrate causal links with self-concept, they do contribute to establishing the construct validity of the self-concept construct as an important psychological entity. The generally desirable nature of the correlates with high self-concepts invites the speculation that enhancement of self-concept may also have positive effects in other areas of individuals' functioning.
If a long history and large volume of related research are any measure, then the importance of self-concept as a core psychological construct would be difficult to overstate. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that too much self-concept research has been correlational, descriptive, and used over simplistic theories and methodologies (Hattie, J.A., 1992; Wylie, 1979). Currently there is a need to conduct
more intensive research on self-concept, and particularly on self-concept change programs, to further our understanding of self-concepts' underlying mechanisms, self-concept's amenability to change, and to examine the validity of self-concept instrumentation (Hattie, J. A., 1992).

1.1.3. Mental health

Mental health, like self-concept, has a long history as a major psychological construct. Traditionally mental health has been considered as the absence of mental disorder. More recently, definitions of mental health have been broadened to include the notion of psychological well-being (Compas, 1993; Schaefer & Moos, 1992; Sleet & Dane, 1985). Today, mental health is understood as the capacity of an individual to function in ways that promote their own and others' subjective well-being (Raphael, 1993). The absence of mental disorder is dependent on an individual's resilience to biological, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors (Brooks-Gunn & Paikoff, 1993; Compas, 1993, Raphael, 1993). Resilience can be developed, according to Schaefer and Moos (1992), by confronting stressful experiences and coping with them effectively. The concept of well-being refers to an individual's capacity to experience 'wellness', that is, to enjoy life, experience satisfaction, and feel optimistic (Veit & Ware, 1983; Wood, Rhodes, & Whelan, 1989). The inclusion of well-being in the domain of mental health has allowed mental health assessments to be made of normal populations. Measures of mental disorder are typically subject to floor effects in normal populations and hence do not allow for meaningful discrimination of the quality of mental health (Fry, 1992). Measures of well-being, on the other hand, provide a more sensitive and discriminating assessment of the quality of mental health for people relatively free of mental illness (Veit & Ware, 1983). he dimensional structure of mental health is an ongoing debate.
Convincing findings come from Veit and Ware's (1983) major study with 5089 subjects aged between 13 and 69 years old which provided strong psychometric support for a hierarchical model of mental health. Based on their Mental Health Inventory (MHI), Veit and Ware (1983) extracted two higher order correlated factors - psychological distress and well-being - as well as five lower order correlated factors - anxiety, depression, emotional ties, general positive affect, and loss of behavioural/emotional control.
Correlates of mental disorder have been studied more extensively than correlates of well-being. Generally, mental disorder research associates the existence of mental problems with other life difficulties. Other research shows that psychological well-being is not necessarily associated with objective life circumstances (Wood et al., 1989). There exists a distinct need to investigate pro-active methods of developing resilience to psychological distress and of fostering psychological well-being, particularly for the large population of normal adolescents.

1.1.4. Coping

Studies of coping grew out of research on stress in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s (Carpenter, 1992; Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991a). Early approaches to the theory and measurement of coping were based on Freud's psychodynamic theory and others were based on ego psychology (Carpenter, 1992). More recently, following the development of cognitive-appraisal models in stress research, coping has been explained as an individual's psychological mediation between the perceived demands of the external world and the perceived needs of the internal world. Coping refers to all strategies - whether cognitive, emotional, or physical - that an individual uses to negotiate between their internal and external environments. Stressors occur all the time, making continuous demands on individuals' physiological and psychological systems to adapt (Selye, 1980). Coping is an ongoing process that occurs as part of everyday life.
Based on Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of psychological stress, coping can be understood as part of an appraisal-stress-coping-outcome™ feedback loop. In this explanation, coping begins with a cognitive judgement which decides whether or not a situation is stressful (i.e., whether or not the individual needs to adapt). If it is judged that adaptation needs to take place, then a coping strategy is chosen. A coping strategy can impact by: (a) minimizing the stress response, (b) removing or reducing situational demands, (c) increasing available resources (e.g., obtaining professional help) or, (d) altering the cognitive appraisal itself (Carpenter, 1992). The outcome of the coping response is then cognitively re-appraised by the individual, leading to a continuation of the appraisal-stress-coping-outcome feedback loop. Empirical support has come from laboratory studies which show that the way an event is cognitively appraised influences the coping strategy subsequently chosen (Stone, Kennedy-Moore, Newman, Greenberg, & Neale, 1992).
Findings from several coping studies on children and adolescents across a wide range of stressors generally support the usefulness of Lazarus and Folkman's transactional model of psychological stress (Compas, 1993; Compas, et al., 1988). With the cognitive developments of adolescence a wider selection of coping strategies which make use of concrete and abstract thinking become available (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991b). An individual's coping style emerges from the integration of cognitive developments with the normative events and specific stressors that occur during childhood and adolescence, with long term consequences for shaping coping behaviour in adulthood (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991b). This supports the notion that a short-term experiential intervention may be able to have a positive and long-term influence on coping responses.
Coping researchers have had some difficulty establishing a consistent factor structure across different contexts, subject populations, and instruments. Some consensus does seem to have emerged for the broad structure of problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping (Carpenter, 1992; Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a; Stone, et al., 1992). Many researchers, however, prefer to treat these two factors as underlying, and to some extent masking, more specific coping strategies (Carpenter, 1992; Compas, 1993; Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a; McCrae, 1992).
The coping behaviours used by Australian adolescents have been investigated in several studies by Frydenberg (1993) and Frydenberg and Lewis (1991a, 1991b, 1993b, 1994a, 1994b). These studies indicate that, although Australian adolescents are resourceful in managing their concerns, there are numerous strategies which could be developed to enhance their repertoire of coping responses (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a).
The cognitive appraisal process provides a theoretical mechanism through which therapeutic or educational intervention can act (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1991b). There is currently a need to develop an understanding of which coping strategies it is desirable to change, which coping strategies are amenable to change, and different
methodologies by which successful coping strategy intervention can be achieved.

1.2. Intervention programs

Adolescence has been discussed in terms of three psychological constructs - self-concept, mental health, and coping. Attention is now turned to intervention programs and their effects in these key psychological areas.

1.2.1. Self-concept effects

Self-concept enhancement has been a major aim of numerous psychotherapy and education programs. J. M. Hattie (1992) conducted a meta-analysis of 89 studies (485 effect sizes [ESs]1) which assessed change in self-concept measures as an outcome of intervention programs. Overall, a moderate average ES of .37 was found, with control groups reporting an 'unexpected' non-zero ES of .12. There was considerable variability in ESs between studies. Cognitively-based programs had higher ESs (.47) than affectively-based programs (.12) or non-specific programs (.37). The highest ES of the 16 coded categories was for physically oriented programs (.58), with the sub-category of camps and summer schools, including Outward Bound programs, achieving an ES of .97. This compares favourably with the average effect size of .68 for psychotherapy outcomes (Smith, Glass, & Miller, 1980). Cason and Gillis (1994) conducted a meta-analysis which concentrated on outcomes for outdoor adventure programs for adolescents. Based on 43 studies (235 ESs), a small to medium (see Footnote 2) ES of .31 was reported. When effect sizes were further related to the specific conditions under which the programs are conducted, a more detailed picture emerged:

(a) Adolescents versus Adults. Adolescent self-concept change programs reported lower ESs (.23) than adult programs (.52) in J.M. Hattie's study (1992). Adventure programs conducted for adolescents achieved an ES of .34 for self-concept in Cason and Gillis' (1994) study.

(b) Normal versus Problem-identified Participants. Programs with normal participants achieved lower ESs (.26) than programs with subjects previously identified as having problems (.55) (Hattie, J. M., 1992). For adolescent adventure programs Cason and Gillis (1994) reported no differences in ESs between normal and problem-identified participants.

(c) Program Length. J. M. Hattie (1992) did not find a linear relationship between program length and ES, although this may have been due to the restricted program length categories she used. Residential programs achieved higher ESs (.48) than full day (.21) and half day (.46) programs (Hattie, J.M., 1992). Cason and Gillis (1994) found a significant and positive correlation between program length and ES (r = .174, p < .008).

(d) Setting. Programs that took place in educational settings (i.e. schools and colleges) demonstrated lower ESs (.36) than programs occurring in other settings (.50) (Hattie, J. M., 1992).

(e) Leaders. Therapists (.48) and group leaders (.56) consistently achieved higher results than teachers (.27) (Hattie, J. M., 1992). Smith, et al. (1980) reported higher ESs for psychologists than teachers.

1.2.2. Mental health and coping effects

Mental health enhancement programs have used a wide range of methodologies and have been applied to different populations of adolescents. However, no clear picture of the effectiveness of these programs can be gained because few are formally evaluated and those that are evaluated tend to be of poor quality (Klein, Kotelchuck, & DeFreise, 1990). Compas (1993) surveyed empirical evaluation studies of adolescent mental health programs. Although he did not report outcome statistics succeeded in building both the skills to cope with stress and involvement in personally meaningful activities.
One of Compas' (1993) recommendations was for future programs and research to further investigate the characteristics of positive mental health from multiple perspectives, including adolescents, parents, and teachers. This is because the goals of existing interventions tend to be skewed towards achieving outcomes primarily valued by mental health professionals. The result is that mental health promotion programs are mainly focused on removing signs of psychopathology as opposed to increasing resilience to psychological distress or specifically fostering psychological well-being.
A second of Compas' (1993) recommendations is that mental health interventions should expand beyond a person-centred model to include a range of helping and socializing interventions, meaning that the attitudes and behaviours of teachers, parents, and others who interact with adolescents need to be included as targets of interventions.
Two of Compas' (1993) other recommendations are consistent with J. M. Hattie's (1992) findings. Firstly, schools should remain a primary context for the promotion of positive mental health, but there is a need to expand intervention efforts to include other settings and contexts. This is consistent with J. M. Hattie's meta-analysis which showed higher ESs for programs outside the school setting. Compas 1993) also emphasized the role of physical health in mental health and argued for the integration of mental and physical health promotion efforts. Given that the highest ES of J. M. Hattie's 16 categories was found for physically based programs, there appears to be sound empirical support for such an approach.

1.2.3. Characteristics of effective intervention programs

This research review suggests that an intervention program which positively affects the self-concept, mental health, and coping resources of normal adolescents would:

(a) be physically oriented,

(b) use the school context, but outside the school setting,

(c) take place in a residential setting,

(d) be of a long duration,

(e) be conducted by therapists or trained group leaders,

(f) incorporate the aims of adolescents, parents and teachers, and

(g) include teachers, parents and others involved with adolescents as targets in the program.

Given that these characteristics have been associated with positive outcomes, intervention programs which come close to meeting these criteria deserve further research attention.

1.2.4. Outward Bound high school programs Intervention characteristics

Outward Bound Australia high school programs have five of the seven characteristics and at least some aspects of the other two) associated with effective adolescent intervention programs:

a) A physically oriented program. Outward Bound high school programs use a wilderness expedition format. This involves a developmental series of physically-based activities such as camping, bushwalking, rafting, abseiling/rockclimbing, environmental awareness activities, and communication exercises.

b) Use the school context, but outside the school setting. Outward Bound high school programs are designed and conducted in conjunction with each high school, but take place in an environment completely separate from the school setting.

c) In a residential setting. Outward Bound programs are residential, that is, they involve the students 24 hours a day.

d) For a long duration. Outward Bound high school programs are 9 to 10 days in length.

e) Conducted by therapists or trained group leaders.  Outward Bound high school programs are conducted by 'trained group leaders' or, in Outward Bound terminology, instructors. Instructors are selected on the basis of their ability to facilitate personal development using outdoor activities as their learning medium (Outward Bound Australia, 1994e). Outward Bound instructors are trained in-house in the technical skills of outdoor activities and educational techniques for individual and group development.

f) Incorporate the aims of adolescents, parents and teachers.  Outward Bound high school programs incorporate the aims of teachers at two levels:

(i) in the initial design of the program by Outward Bound in conjunction with the school, and

ii) by having a high school teacher and an Outward Bound instructor work as a team with each group of students.

The aims of adolescents are incorporated at two levels:

(iii) in the initial design of the program if these aims are recognized and expressed to Outward Bound by the high school, and

iv) by instructors helping the students set individual and group goals and reviewing these goals with the students during the program. The aims of parents are incorporated indirectly through expression of their aims to the high school.

g) Include teachers, parents and others involved with adolescents as targets in the program. Teachers are included as targets of Outward Bound high school programs by having them work with Outward Bound instructors and the students throughout the program. This provides teachers with opportunities for their own personal development and also to develop closer relationships with their students. Generally, parents are not included as targets of the program, although they are invited to an information meeting conducted by a senior Outward Bound staff member at the high school prior to the program to help them understand what their son/daughter will do during the Outward Bound program. Philosophy and practice

Outward Bound Australia school programs involve "total and integrated programming incorporating physical and adventure based activities, personal development techniques and academic studies in the field" (Richards, 1977, p.123). Although Outward Bound programs do not derive from any specific psychological theory, the basic underlying tenet is that "all forms of growth in the human being, whether they be physical, psychological, social or cognitive can be significantly enhanced by the individual engaging himself in active experiences in these various fields" (Richards, 1977, p.37). The impact is further enhanced by the "great interdependence of these variables evidenced in Outward Bound" (Richards, 1977, p.37).
Outward Bound instructors use a 'guided discovery learning' approach (Outward Bound Australia, 1994b, 1994c). This means providing enough direction and structure to guide the students' development and to ensure a high chance of 'learning success', but not so much as to remove the opportunity for students to discover for themselves (Outward Bound Australia, 1994a). The emphasis is on learning through personal and group discovery, as opposed to didacticism. Aims and objectives

The stated objectives for Outward Bound Australia school programs are to provide a learning environment which:

(a) improves confidence, increases self-esteem and develops maturity,

(b) develops teamwork, co-operation, effective communication and understanding,

(c) stimulates interpersonal skills and leadership development,

(d) focuses resourcefulness, initiative, self-reliance and capacity to adapt to change,

(e) encourages continuing personal development and goal setting,

(f) challenges the individual to cope with change, overcome difficulties and build on their strengths,

(g) creates real life experiences which complement and reinforce the learning from within the classroom, and \

(h) develops a rapport between staff and students not readily attainable in a school environment (Outward Bound Australia, 1994c).

A pilot study conducted by Neill (1994) clarified the aims of Outward Bound high school programs from the perspectives of Outward Bound instructors and accompanying high school teachers. Fourteen instructors and thirteen teachers were surveyed with regard to their overall objectives as well as the particular self-concept dimensions and coping strategies which they aimed to influence during Outward Bound high school programs. The picture emerged that some dimensions were high priority whereas other dimensions where considered low priority. The self-concept dimensions which instructors and teachers identified Outward Bound high school programs as aiming to enhance were: Physical Abilities, Physical Appearance, Single-Sex Relations, Honesty-Trustworthiness, Emotional Stability, and General Self (Marsh, 1990). The coping strategies which instructors and teachers aimed to encourage on Outward Bound high school programs were: Social Support, Focus on Solving the Problem, Work hard and Achieve, Focusing on the Positive, Physical Recreation, and Social Action (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a). The coping strategies which instructors and teachers aimed to discourage were: Worrying, Seeking to Belong, Wishful thinking, Not Coping, Tension Reduction, Ignoring the Problem, Self-Blame, and Keeping to Self (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a). Past research

Outward Bound's eclectic theoretical basis presents a significant challenge to the serious researcher. The majority of research on Outward Bound and outdoor education has used a "black box" approach, focusing on program outcomes and ignoring their relationship to process issues (Cason & Gillis, 1994; Ewert, 1987; Outward Bound Australia, 1994d; Shore, 1977). Research on Outward Bound high school programs has been inconclusive. Spinaze (1986) conducted a pre-post program evaluation of the effects of a 9 day Outward Bound program for 29 Year 11 boys using the Tennessee Self-Concept instrument, finding statistically non-significant gains for each scale, with no followup or control group. Nussbaumer (1988) investigated the effects of different outdoor education programs, including two Outward Bound high school programs with female students, on physical self-concept. One of the Outward Bound high school programs (N = 176) found a significant gain in overall physical self-concept compared to the control group, a change which was sustained at a three month followup. There was no reported change in overall physical self-concept for the second Outward Bound high school program (N = 59). One consistent finding from Nussbaumer's study was a significant main effect for time for experimental and control groups. Unfortunately two-way interaction analyses between time and experimental condition were not reported for the physical self-concept sub-scales, leaving further questions about differential rates of change for the experimental and control groups unanswered.
Parle (1983) investigated the role of self-efficacy in a voluntary 10 day Outward Bound high school course for 109 female Year 9 students. The control group consisted of 60 students from the same school and year level who had chosen not to attend. The study included a one month follow-up assessment. Students who attended the Outward Bound program had higher 'Outward-Bound-specific self-efficacy' scores than the control group to start with, and this difference increased by the end of the Outward Bound program. Participants in the Outward Bound program also reported an increase in their general self-efficacy at the end of the program. However the non-participants 'caught-up' at the follow-up assessment. Parle 1983) suggested this was due to social influence from the Outward Bound participants returning to the school environment. While the study supported the effects of Outward Bound high school programs on specific and general self-efficacy, the results were limited by the poor quality scales used (Parle, 1983).

1.2.5. Research methodology

J. M. Hattie (1992) expressed concern over the quality of studies available for inclusion in her meta-analysis. From an original pool of 650 self-concept change studies, only 89 reported basic outcome statistics (e.g., N, mean, standard deviation) from which an ES could be calculated. Of these 89 studies, 10 studies used control groups and 4 studies conducted followup assessments. In other words, less than 1% of the original pool of self-concept change studies used an experimental or quasi-experimental design and reported basic followup statistics. This is particularly disturbing in the light of J. M. Hattie's finding that control groups exhibit a non-zero ES (.12). In addition, there is evidence that pre-post testing conducted immediately before and after a program is subject to distorting that self-report scores measured immediately prior to an intervention tend be depressed because of the proximity of anticipated situational demands. Marsh, Richards, and Barnes (1986a, 1986b) discussed the phenomenon of post-group euphoria, temporary elation at the end of intervention, which can inflate post-test scores. These contextual pre-post effects may to explain Cason & Gillis' (1994) finding that less empirically sound studies were more likely to have more positive findings.
There is a distinct need for sound research design to be applied to the evaluation of intervention programs. Such studies need to:

(a) use outcome measures with established reliability and validity,

(b) match outcome measures to program objectives,

(c) use control groups (or establish a baseline through time series design) and followup assessments, and

d) report standardized statistics.

The ultimate aim of adopting these measures is for intervention
studies to make a systematic contribution to the accumulation of
knowledge about key elements of effective of intervention programs.

1.3. Research questions

This review of psychological constructs related to adolescence reveals some unresolved issues. Adolescence is understood as a developmental period which involves a number of stressors. Although adolescence is experienced reasonably well on the whole, many researchers suggest a need to help develop adolescents' ability to deal with these stressors.
The outcomes of stressors experienced by adolescents can be linked theoretically, and in some cases empirically, to self-concept, mental health, and coping. Most research in these areas treats each particular psychological construct in isolation from other psychological constructs. Such research is necessary, particularly as further knowledge is still needed about the structure of each of these constructs. There is, however, a need to develop a broader understanding of how these psychological aspects of adolescence can be changed through intervention efforts and how they change in conjunction with one another.
The current review of intervention program research reveals a number of characteristics associated with relatively large ESs. Further investigation is needed to determine whether or not these characteristics are causally related to the intervention program outcomes and, if so, to understand why. Evaluation of intervention programs offers opportunities to answer not only practical questions about the quality of the intervention but also theoretical questions about the structure, stability, and interrelationships between the various psychological constructs that are measured.

1.4. Aims of the present study

The present study investigated an adolescent intervention program which closely matched the characteristics associated with relatively high outcome effects in order to:

(a) determine what outcomes are achieved by an intervention program currently being applied to thousands of Australian adolescents,

(b) investigate whether or not there are causal relationships between the outcomes and the intervention program,

(c) shed light on the susceptibility of self-concept, mental health, and well-being to positive change,

(d) demonstrate use of key research design elements required to make sound conclusions about intervention program effects, and

(e) make a contribution to Outward Bound program philosophy and practice.

1.5. Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1a

Based on the observation that Outward Bound high school programs exhibit a number of characteristics associated with effective self-concept enhancement programs, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be an improvement in Outward Bound participants' overall self-concept compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 1b

According to multi-dimensional self-concept models, some self-concept dimension scores can change while others remain the same (Hattie, J. A., 1992; Marsh, 1990). Based on the Outward Bound high school program objectives (Outward Bound Australia, 1994c) and programs, it appears that the programs aim to affect some dimensions of self-concept more directly than others. Consequently it was hypothesized that:
'There will be an improvement in the self-concept of Outward Bound participants in the areas of physical abilities, physical appearance, single-sex relations, honesty-trustworthiness, emotional stability, and general self (Marsh, 1990) compared to any changes in the control group'.

Hypothesis 1c

'There will be no change in the self-concept of Outward Bound participants in the areas of parent relations, math, verbal, general school, and opposite sex relations (Marsh, 1990) compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 2a

The Outward Bound high school programs exhibit a number of promotion programs (Compas, 1993). Consequently it was hypothesized that: 'There will be an increase in Outward Bound participants' mental health compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 2b

Empirical research has demonstrated that mental health can be considered to have two underlying factors, psychological distress and psychological well-being (Veit & Ware, 1983). Consistent with Hypothesis 2a, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be a decrease in Outward Bound subjects' psychological distress compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 2c

Following Hypothesis 2b, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be an increase in Outward Bound participants' psychological well-being compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 2d

For normal populations, measures of psychological distress are likely to be subject to floor effects, whereas measures of psychological well-Ware, 1983). Given that Outward Bound high school programs are conducted with normal adolescents, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be a greater improvement in Outward Bound participants' compared to any changes in the control group.'

Hypothesis 3a

Based on the Outward Bound high school program objectives and the pilot study conducted on the aims of Outward Bound instructors and accompanying high school teachers (Neill, 1994), it appears that the programs aim to increase adolescents' use of certain coping strategies, decrease the use of some coping strategies, and not to change the use of other coping strategies. Consequently, it was hypothesized that: 'Outward Bound participants will report using different amounts of various coping strategies after the Outward Bound program compared to any changes in the control group'.

Hypothesis 3b

As an extension of Hypothesis 3a, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be an increase in reported use of coping strategies which relate to social support, problem solving, working hard and achieving, focusing on the positive, physical recreation, and social action (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a) for Outward Bound participants compared to any changes in the control group'.

Hypothesis 3c

As an extension of hypothesis 3a, it was hypothesized that: 'There will be a decrease in reported use of coping strategies which relate to worrying, seeking to belong, wishful thinking, not coping, tension reduction, ignoring the problem, self-blame, and keeping to self (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a) for Outward Bound participants compared to any changes in the control group'.

Hypothesis 3d

As an extension of hypothesis 3a, it was hypothesized that: 'relate to investing in close friends, spiritual support, seeking professional help, and seeking relaxing diversions (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993a) for Outward Bound participants compared to any changes in the control group'.