Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center
New Content Update #4
June, 2003

James Neill
Last updated:
November 07, 2006

New Content Updates focus on outdoor education philosophy, theory, research and evaluation content available on the web.

  • If you have comments, links to add, or questions, contact James Neill.

Link Categories

0. Overview

1. General

2. Adventure Therapy

3. Leadership, Staff, & Training

4. Management & Corporate

5. Nature & Wilderness

6. Philosophy & Theory

7. Research & Evaluation

8. Risk, Challenge, & Safety

9. Writing & Publishing


11. Miscellaneous



In the 5 months since Update #3 (Jan, 2003), the Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center website has undergone a period of consolidation, with improved navigation and a moderate amount of new content added.


By way of some general comments about the current state of philosophy, theory, research and evaluation in outdoor education:

  • It has been pleasing to see a resurgence in philosophical and theoretical material, however the small amount of real research becoming available is a concern - outdoor education as a field is falling behind many of its counterparts in education and training.  There is no stimulus coming from the peak associations, barely a couple of universities with dedicated efforts towards building outdoor education knowledge, and tight financial times for industry.  Nevertheless, we must continue to mine for the gold and much good outdoor education continues to be added to the web, and there are several promising pockets of knowledge emerging.

  • An interesting development in outdoor education philosophy is the emergence of personal philosophies from both experienced outdoor educators and academics, and from trainees and junior instructors, as they pursue their professional growth.  We live in an age where solid discussion about the philosophy of outdoor education practice can be conducted and better quality ideas be fostered and practiced.  I have made available my teaching curriculum and course materials for an undergraduate unit called "Outdoor Education Philosophy & Methods".  I taught the course for two years and the material is by no means definitive, but it may help others teaching introductory courses to outdoor education theory or keen students of OE theory.  I was most curious in this course to provide a set of conditions and experiences through which students could develop their own meaningful personal philosophy of outdoor education and explain how it was similar to, or differed from, the major philosophical viewpoints of outdoor education in the past and present.

  • A healthy sign for knowledge-building is that the three major outdoor education print journals seem to all be in a healthy and productive state (Journal of Experiential Education, Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, and the Australian Journal of Outdoor Education).  Unfortunately, there is currently no way to get good access to these journal contents via the web.  To find out more, go to: http://www.wilderdom.com/journals.htm

  • Conference proceedings should be placed on the web.  This is one of the many ways in which growth in outdoor education knowledge could be accelerated is by making conference proceedings freely available on the web.  So, three cheers to the Australian Outdoor Education Council for making the proceedings of the 13th National Outdoor Education Conference, Adelaide, Australia, April, 2003 available.

  • Gradually, outdoor education academics are creating their own webpages, and making their own publications available.  Check out the new pages for Dr. Jason Bocarro's and Dr. Sandy Newes'

  • Personal blogs are now being produced by two of the leading web developers in outdoor education - Mikal Belicove (who founded the The Outdoor Network) - (blog: http://www.belicove.com/) and Rick Curtis (who founded and currently runs http://www.outdoored.com).  Roger Greenaway (who founded Active Reviewing - http://reviewing.co.uk/) is a third pioneer of outdoor education material on the web, and he can found making active contributions through the OUTRES listserv (http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/outres.html)


James Neill

14 June, 2003



1. General

Recent useful additions to outdoor education philosophy, theory, research and evaluation on the web included the 13th National Outdoor Education Conference Proceedings, April, 2003, Adelaide, South Australia and

Jason Bocarro's Research Page.


The following overview articles were also added:


Neill (2003) Adolescent development in the 21st century: Potential for outdoor education. Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Neill (2003) Definitions & purposes of outdoor education Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Neill (2003) Impactful education: Research says let's go outdoors. Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Neill (2003) Predictions for theory and research in 2003 and the decade ahead Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Neill (2003) The effects of outdoor education programs: Literature reviews and key primary studies Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Rocha (2003) Science lessons in the outdoors Merced Sun Star


Sheffield, J. (n.d.) Experiential education: What the hell is it anyway



2. Adventure Therapy


Adventure therapy material on the web continues to grow slowly.  The most significant additions were Russell & Phillips-Miller (2002)'s Perspectives on the wilderness therapy process and its relation to outcome in Child and Youth Care Forum and Sandy Newes' Adventure therapy publications, which includes her dissertation, comprehensive exam answers, and articles scheduled for publication.  Also of significant note is A meta-analysis of adventure therapy program outcomes, the powerpoint version of Norm Staunton's Masters thesis defense at the University of New Hampshire.  Findings support that adventure therapy programs are at least as effective as other types of psychological intervention, although the body of empirical adventure therapy research literature suffers from its lack of rigor.


Other adventure therapy links added were:


Berman & Davis-Berman (1995) Outdoor education and troubled youth ERIC


Eberle (2003). "Executive Functioning" New research about familiar behavior. StrugglingTeens.com


Conner, M. (2002) Excited delirium, restraint asphyxia, positional asphyxia and 'In-Custody Death" syndromes Educationoptions.org



3. Leadership, Staff, & Training


More material is emerging about professional issues in outdoor education, particularly with regard to training and careers.


Climer (2001) Training methods of non-degree college outdoor leadership preparation programs University of New Hampshire 


McChesney, et al. (2002) Students say their future field is misunderstood by the public. Parks & Recreation Magazine


Neill (2003) If Only I'd Known...Advice for Outdoor Education Instructors. Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Texas A&M (2000) Outdoors is a wide open degree

4. Management & Corporate

There has been a dirth of research information on the web about corporate training and management development through outdoor education - its mostly all just marketing crap.  I think its important that we hone in the good quality literature - so check out What Does Research Say about Outdoor Adventure Training for Corporate & Management Development? (Neill, 2003).  It refers to articles available on the web, such as:

Donnison (2000) Images of Outdoor Management Development: A synthesis of the literature and participants' experiences on outdoor courses Unpublished doctoral thesis, Lancaster University, England

Krouwel (2003) From Lewin to lawnmower racing...Reflections on the current state of outdoor management development  The Institute of Training & Occupational Learning Journal

5. Nature & Wilderness

Publications about the deep ecological aspects of outdoor education are difficult to keep track of, because they surface diversely, such as the Frumkin article about the positive effects of nature on health - reported in widely in the press, such as EarthSpirit (2001) Scientist: Contact with nature can help prevent, treat illness.  There are general sources, such as Ecoself.net (n.d.)  Deep ecology resources and Segal (1997) Ecopsychology and the uses of wilderness Ecopsychology Online.  Personally, I strongly recommended reading Ellis-Smith (2003)  Ancient land - current connections, by Graham Ellis-Smith who has been an inspiration in Australia for bringing indigenous knowledge into outdoor education.  I also recommend Ricardo Sierra's work in this respect, for example Earth Mentoring Institute (2001) Initiation in the wilderness: Rediscovering lost ceremonies of rites of passage.  I've added these sources to a page on Indigenous perspectives in outdoor education.


Two more general environmental outdoor education sources added were - Grant (1998) Why environmental education is GOOD education. Global, Environmental, & Outdoor Education Council and an ERIC Digest -Yerkes & Haras (1997) Outdoor education and environmental responsibility ERIC Digest. 


Lastly, but not leastly, I have found in the US that there are many Willi Unsoeld fan's, so it was a pleasant discovery to find that Unsoeld's classic 1978 piece is on the net,

Wilderness and the sacred  Green Pages.


6. Philosophy & Theory

There seems to be a resurgence of growth and interest in the philosophy and theory of outdoor education; but its still early days.  I've continued adding classic 'essentials' such as

Stephen Bacon's (1987) The evolution of the Outward Bound process Outward Bound USA.  Other classics recently added are:

Howe (1974) The role of experience in education  National Conference on Experiential Education

Katz & Kolb (1968) Outward Bound and education for personal growth Outward Bound Inc.

Nold (1978) A primer on Outward Bound theory Unpublished manuscript

Walsh & Golins (1976)
The exploration of the Outward Bound process Colorado Outward Bound School


For those who want some more indepth engagement with outdoor education philosphy and theory, consider downloading Neill (2003) Course materials for "Outdoor Education Philosophy & Methods" (introductory undergraduate semester-long course)


The most popular recent philosophy and theory articles has been McKenzie (2002) Beyond "the Outward Bound process": Rethinking student learning. Simon Fraser University.


Other recent additions of note are:


Dirkx (2000) Transformative learning and the journey of individuation ERIC Digest


Ellsworth (2000) A survey of educational change models ERIC Digest


McGowan (1997) A more conscious use of metaphor in adventure education The Bradford Papers


Neill (2003) Outdoor education philosophy  Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Otten (2000) Character education ERIC Digest


Whitcombe (1999) Mark Whitcombe's outdoor education philosophy

7. Research & Evaluation

The growth of outdoor education research and evaluation material on the web is slow.  Efforts have been concentrated on continuing to make research reviews available, such as:

Chenery (1987)  A sampler of qualitative research in organized camping  The Journal of Experiential Education

Crompton & Sellar (1981) Do outdoor education experiences contribute to positive development in the affective domain? Journal of Environmental Education


Iida (1975) Adventure oriented programs: A review of research  Research in Camping and Environmental Education


A new research tool for assessing the effectiveness of youth at risk programs has been developed - Neill (2003) A measurement tool for assessing the effects of adventure-based programs on outcomes for youth-at-risk participants


For outdoor education organizations interested in conducting research, I have proposed a  Hierarchy of research and evaluation motivations (Neill, 2003; Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center).


I have been recommending for some time now that outdoor education research and evaluation pay more attention to the use of effect sizes - the reasons why are explained at Neill (2003) Why use effect sizes instead of significance testing for program evaluation Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Two other research articles were added:

Bocarro & Richards (1998) Experiential research at-risk: The challenge of shifting traditional research paradigms Journal of Experiential Education



Foster-Riley & Hendee (1999)  Wilderness vision quest clients: Motivations and reported benefits from an urban-based program 1988 to 1997  6th World Wilderness Congress Proceedings on Research, Management, and Allocation


8. Risk, Challenge, & Safety

There is little new academic literature about risk, challenge, and safety in outdoor education  appearing on the web (in contrast to the amount of professional concern).  Currently, the most recommended source is www.outdoored.com.  These two articles were added to risk, safety, and challenge articles available at http://www.wilderdom.com/Risk.html:


Knight (2000) The safe outdoors Generation - Youth Issues


Sharp (2000) Research into mountain accidents Mountaineering Council of Scotland


9. Writing & Publishing

Call for Papers (2003) Children and Adolescents' Leisure in "World Leisure Journal"


Neill (2003) How to get published in outdoor education journals


Neill (2003) Why I write on the web. Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center


Some quotes from North American "outdoor education legends" have been collated:

Quotes by Paul Petzoldt

Quotes by Willi Unsoeld


11. Miscellaneous

Knapp (1992) Thinking in outdoor inquiry ERIC Digest


Orans (2002)  Scouting references & links PineTreeweb.com