Outdoor Education R&E Center


The Outward Bound Process Model

(Walsh & Golins, 1976)

James Neill
Last updated:
11 Mar 2007

The Outward Bound Process Model (Walsh & Golins, 1976)

The most cited theoretical outdoor education model is the "Outward Bound Process Model", sometimes referred to as the "Walsh and Golins Model" (Walsh & Golins, 1976).  This model proposes a series of seven processes to explain the apparent power and effects of Outward Bound programs:

  1. A motivated and ready learner who is placed into
  2. prescribed physical and social environments, then given a
  3. characteristic set of problem-solving tasks which creates a state of
  4. adaptive dissonance leading to
  5. mastery or competence  which in turn leads to
  6. reorganization of the meaning and direction of the experience.  In this way, the learner continues to be
  7. oriented toward living and learning.

Finally, the OBPM suggests that the learner will then continue to be positively oriented to further learning and development experiences (transfer).

Outward Bound Process Model (Walsh & Golins, 1976)
Figure 1.
Outward Bound Process Model (from Priest & Gass, 1997, p. 140)

Since Walsh and Golins proposed the OBPM model it has been widely cited, yet remains unpublished and there has been little effort to test or upgrade the model (Sibthorp, 2003).

More detailed descriptions and commentaries on the Outward Bound Process model can be found in: