Neill 2010 Outdoor education theories: A review and synthesis

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Outdoor education theories:
A review and synthesis

James Neill

A presentation to the
Outdoor Recreation Industry Council Annual Conference (ORIC),
Novotel Hotel, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia,
August 21-22, 2010

This 45-minute keynote summarises and reviews outdoor education theory to date
and then proposes a dynamic model to synthesise the main theoretical elements.



Outdoor education theories are rich and diverse, but they are also ad hoc and lacking in cohesion. This presentation will critically review major outdoor education theories to date. It will sugggest a dynamic synthesis, using a systems theory approach. This proposed model combines Deweyian theory about experiential education with seven domains of outdoor education: individual, group, facilitator, environment, program, activities, and culture. Practical and theoretical applications will be suggested.

Presenter biography

James Neill is an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra. James' PhD thesis (2008) investigated the changes in life effectiveness skills for 3000 outdoor education program participants, the largest study in the field to date. James currently teaches survey research methods, motivation, and emotion. His research expertise is in program evaluation and instrument development, experiential and challenge-based learning, and educational technology.


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