Education Research & Evaluation Center
New Content Update #1
Updates from the OE Research & Evaluation Center, focus on new content on the web,
publications, and other notable Outdoor Education research, theory and
Got Outdoor Education Research News?
A recent thesis by Leann Terry, Scripps College, USA, found no significant effects of a one-day ropes course on several personal development outcomes measured with the Life Effectiveness Questionnaire. There were no effects either, for conducting bi-weekly journaling following the one-day ropes course experience. In qualitative interviews, it was found that students reported developing greater self-confidence and better friendships as a result of the ropes course experience. The abstract and full thesis can be downloaded from http://www.wilderdom.com/leq/leqreferences.html#theses.
Despite the findings of the Terry study, new research evidence has emerged which is supportive of the efficacy of ropes challenge course programming. Camille Bunting and John Donley, from Texas A&M, USA, presented a meta-analysis of 15 ropes course research studies at the 6th Biennial Coalition for Education in the Outdoors Research Symposium, Bradford Woods, IN. They reported moderately strong effects of ropes course programs on teamwork, self-concept, and self-esteem outcomes, although there was wide variation between different programs. This study, as yet unpublished, is the 5th major meta-analysis regarding outcomes in outdoor education and related fields. A summary of the findings from meta-analytic studies by James Neill, University of New Hampshire, USA, can be downloaded from http://www.wilderdom.com/JamesNeillpublications.htm#2002. Click on "Meta-analytic Research on the Outcomes of Outdoor Education".
Outward Bound Australia (OBA) has a new research coordinator, Dr. Howard Walmsley, from Central Queensland University. Interested researchers can find information about OBA's call for proposals to conduct funded research projects at http://www.outwardbound.com.au/reseaprop.htm.
The Australian Journal of Outdoor Education has a new editor, James Neill, from the University of New Hampshire. A new webpage for the journal which can be found at http://www.wilderdom.com/ajoe/index.htm. The sites includes an index of past articles, updated contributor's guide, and a sample article. Submissions, in the form of articles, book reviews, and sponsorship are currently being sought for upcoming issues. For more information about the three major outdoor education journals, go to http://www.wilderdom.com/journals.htm.
Proposals to present at the 3rd International Adventure Therapy Conference, Victoria, Canada, in April 2003 are due mid-August, 2002 and can be downloaded from http://www.3iatc.com/.
A couple of decades ago, being diagnosed with cancer usually meant not having long to live. Today, being diagnosed with cancer more likely means adjusting to a serious illness and going through treatment and rehabilitation, with likelihood of then continuing one's life. Thus, increasingly there is the need to support people with cancer through adjusting and coping with the new circumstances. Katherine Walshe-Burke, from Springfield College, USA, recently published an article in Illness, Crisis & Loss, describing the use of adventure-based counseling to assist individuals and groups facing cancer and other serious illnesses. The article can be accessed via the OE Research & Evaluation Center's Publications page - Adventure Therapy downloads section http://www.wilderdom.com/publications.html#advthpy (go to Walshe-Burke at the bottom of the box).
Outdoor education content is becoming more available on the web. Articles placed on the net, with free downloads, seem destined to become more widely cited, according to a study posted at http://www.neci.nec.com/~lawrence/papers/online-nature01/. Unless there is an effective distribution network, print-only publication is becoming increasingly less effective. This is a serious problem for the development of knowledge in outdoor education. None of the major OE journals are easily available on the web. In contrast, all the major journals in fields such as medicine, education, psychology, and so on, are available, in one format or another, and certainly all searchable through on-line databases of the abstracts at libraries. In contrast, none of the abstracts from outdoor education appear in major search databases. This situation is seriously undermining the growth of academic content and broad interest in outdoor education. At least in the short-term, it is imperative that authors of OE articles post their material on the web for others to access. For more discussion about the need to make outdoor education research content available, and how to go about it, see http://www.wilderdom.com/plea.html. For copyright guidelines for posting material on the web see http://www.wilderdom.com/plea.html#copyright.
There is much unexplored territory in the common ground of outdoor education and indigenous lifestyles. Stephen Colmant, a psychotherapist from New Mexico, USA, has been an exception, with his work on using Native American style sweat lodges in adventure programming. Colmant's research article on using sweat lodges with Navajo youth, published in the Journal for Specialists in Group Work (1999) is available at http://www.wilderdom.com/publications.html#advthpy. This initial study involved four youth in twelve sweat lodge sessions and provide a framework for further sweat lodge research.
Dr. Andy Martin, a senior lecturer in the Department of Management, at Massey University, New Zealand, was recently awarded his doctorate. Martin's doctoral research investigated participant and staff experiences of a new generation of Outward Bound-style programs which use creative and drama-based challenge, in addition to traditional physical-style challenges. Martin's study focused on a program developed at the Outward Bound Czech Republic school, which uses 'dramaturgy' as its method of course design. This method involves seeing participants as actors/actresses in an unfolding drama which is lead by the instructors (directors). Martin's research also investigated traditional style OB programs in New Zealand and new dramaturgy-inspired programs at OB in Australia. His thesis can be downloaded from http://www.wilderdom.com/publications.html#theses.
The Wilderness Research Center (WRC) at the University of Idaho, now
headed by Dr. Keith Russell, continues to produce high quality adventure
therapy research publications. The WRC website is well worth a visit
Two notable recent publications which are available from the WRC website
High quality research and information content is needed not only in academic journals, but also in widely read websites and newsletters. Outward Bound International has recently stepped up the quality of its publication efforts by revamping its website at http://www.outward-bound.org/ and quarterly newsletter, plus added monthly practitioners newsletter at http://www.outward-bound.org/ne_sub1_news.htm. Also see links to other interesting e-newsletters produced by outdoor education organizations at http://www.wilderdom.com/publications.html#npjournals.
If every person who conducted OE research made their work available on the web, searching and finding material would be much more efficient. So credit should be given to those who generously make content available for others on the net. In doing so, these individuals help to grease the wheels of scholarly knowledge about outdoor education. What follows is a necessarily subjective, and probably controversial, ranking of 10 the top authors of scholarly outdoor education information currently on the web
1. Roger Greenaway - http://reviewing.co.uk/index.htm - Greenaway's guide to Active Reviewing substantial website continues to maintain its status as the premier information website for information for both practitioners and researchers in experiential and outdoor education.
2. Rick Curtis - http://www.outdoored.com - This up and coming website aims to be everything to everybody with regard to OE information on the net, which seems to be both its strength and weakness. On Curtis' site you can probably find something about what you're looking for if its related to outdoor education.
3. James Neill - Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center - http://www.wilderdom.com/research.html - This site focuses on providing information and downloadable content to help support research in outdoor education. Neill also provides downloads of his own publications from a separate page at http://www.wilderdom.com/JamesNeillpublications.htm.
4. Lee Gillis - Adventure Therapy Web, Georgia State College - http://fdsa.gcsu.edu:6060/lgillis/AT/ - This site continues to be the quintessential reference site in the field of adventure therapy.
5. Simon Priest - http://members.tscnet.com/pages/experien/ - provides important access to information about Outdoor Management Development program research during the 1980's and 1990's, however the content has not been updated in recent years
6. Ron Watters - http://www.ronwatters.com/ - well constructed website with downloads of OE articles developed written over a period of 25 years
7. William Borrie - University of Montana - http://www.forestry.umt.edu/personnel/faculty/borrie/research/default.htm - Interesting series of papers on various aspects of understand the nature of wilderness experience, including philosophical and research oriented papers.
8. Keith Russell - Wilderness Research Center - http://www.ets.uidaho.edu/wrc/ - is emerging as a high quality content download site for outdoor behavioral healthcare research conducted by the WRC.
9. Randall Grayson - Vision Realization - http://www.visionrealization.com/Resources/resources.html - contains expansive, user-friendly content for those interested in research, evaluation, and practice in providing high quality camps.
10. Kurt Hahn - http://www.kurthahn.org/ - Who would have thought that Kurt Hahn would one day make his presence felt on the web. Thanks to Kurt Hahn's grand niece, Liz Cunningham, full text copies of Kurt Hahn's speeches and other useful quotes, links, and so on are provided at the Kurt Hahn.org website.
11. Peter Witt - http://rptsweb.tamu.edu/Faculty/Witt/pubs.htm - a very useful list of downloadable research and evaluation articles on recreation programming with youth.
For more links to OE authors on the net, go to http://www.wilderdom.com/publications.html#authors.
The Outdoor Network reports that a new study published in the journal Leisure Sciences examines how the concept of environmental justice applies to outdoor recreation. Myron Floyd, of the University of Florida and Cassandra Johnson, at the U.S. Forest Service's Southern Research Station, argue that issues of social and racial justice are pertinent to outdoor recreation and access to open space. For more information, go to http://www.outdoornetwork.com/ton_outdoorhead/2002/06/25/eng-outdoornet-000007/eng-outdoornet-000007_151514_244_741121556144.html.
The 8th ICEL conference is currently underway in Slovenia. The abstracts of the papers from the six keynote speakers were available from http://www.el.uct.ac.za/icel/2002keynote.pdf, but are no longer. The key note addresses were:
The Nature of Experience and its Relationship to
The Ground on which We Stand Ethical Dilemmas and Personal History
Common Fire Experiential Learning Ignites Lives of Commitment in a
Responding to the new Ecozoic Age Opportunities and Challenges for
The Interdependence of Social Environment and Experiential Learning
Branches and twigs Experiential Learning's (his)story and future
A new list of listservs related to outdoor education is available at http://www.wilderdom.com/discussion.html. This 'meta-list' provides key links to other lists of listservs in outdoor education, experiential education, environmental education, therapeutic recreation, and more.
In William Borrie and Joseph Ruggenbuck's recent article, "The Dynamic, Emergent, and Multi-phasic Nature of On-site Wilderness Experiences", in the Journal of Leisure Sciences, they present evidence that experiencing the wilderness does not involve a single, coherent experience, but rather a multi-faceted experience that ebbs and flows across time. The article Describes ten dimensions of the wilderness experience and shows how they change across the course of wilderness experiences in the Okefenokee Wilderness of southern Georgia. Go to http://www.forestry.umt.edu/personnel/faculty/borrie/abstracts/Multiphasic/.
According to William Borrie and Robert Bizzell, in their article, "Approaches to Measuring Quality of the Wilderness Experience", four approaches to the measurement of the wilderness experience have developed in over 30 years of research satisfaction approaches (which focus on evaluation of onsite conditions), benefits-based approaches (focusing on psychological outcomes), experience-based approaches (describing cognitive states experienced in wilderness), and meanings-based approaches (documenting socially constructed meanings ascribed to the experience). The article examines each approach's strengths and weaknesses and argues that due to the multifaceted nature of wilderness experience no single method is adequate. To link to the full article, go to http://www.forestry.umt.edu/personnel/faculty/borrie/abstracts/Experience/.