Personal development outcomes of outdoor education programs


James T. Neill

Poster presented at the 11th Australasian Human Development Conference, July 8-10, 1999, University of Sydney, Australia, 1999


The purpose of this study was to examine the personal development impacts of outdoor education programs. Building on recent meta-analytic work (Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards, 1997) which found moderate overall effects for outdoor education programs, this study analysed longitudinal life effectiveness data from over 3,000 participants in programs ranging from 2 to 26 days. In addition, this study sought to model the sources of variance in personal development outcomes that could be attributed to individual variables (e.g. sex, age), group variables (e.g. gender mix, group size) and program variables (e.g. duration, type). Results suggest that longer programs and programs with adults tended to have larger impacts. Analysis of long-term outcomes indicated retention of personal development gains at around 5 months with some loss of those benefits evident at 12 months. Overall, this large empirical study confirms many of the findings from recent meta-analytic work on outdoor education programs and contributes more detailed information about the sources of variability in personal development outcomes.

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