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Outdoor education theories: A review and synthesis

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Reviews environmental, experiential, psycho-social and multi-element outdoor education theories, then proposed a systems framework.

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Outdoor education theories: A review and synthesis

  1. 2. Overview P rogram C ulture F acilitator G roup A ctivity E nvironment Environmental Experiential Psycho-social Multi-element Black box
  2. 4. “ He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass.” - Leonardo da Vinci
  3. 5. Theory Practice
  4. 6. “ It is the theory that decides what can be observed .” - Albert Einstein “ The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.” - Thomas Jefferson
  5. 7. Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one , take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. - Karl Popper
  6. 8. Each theory is “right” (in some circumstances) and “wrong” in others … or … There is a little bit of truth in every theory.
  7. 9. We must examine old ideas, old theories , although they belong to the past, for this is the only way to understand the importance of the new ones and the extent of their validity. - Albert Einstein, 1938
  8. 10. Good theory is practical . Theories open & close our eyes. All theories are a bit right .
  9. 11. Black box theory
  10. 12. “ we have discovered an educational black box; we know something works, but we don’t know how or why ” - Alan Ewert (1982, p. 126) Outdoor education black box
  11. 13. Is there anything unique about outdoor education? Kurt Hahn (1960) proudly claimed that there was nothing original about Outward Bound; that it was a combined application of well-proven educational and psychological practices from other sources.
  12. 14. The outdoor education black box . Experiential theories Psychological and phenomenological processes of experiential learning Environmental theories Restorative effects of nature and aspects of psychoevolutionary theory Psycho-social theories Stress-inoculation, social support, group development and educational psychology Multi-element theories Generic components of outdoor education programs
  13. 16. Environmental theories <ul><li>“Nature is good” theory
  14. 17. Direct and indirect effects of nature
  15. 18. Natural environment in outdoor education theory </li></ul>
  16. 19. “Nature is good” theory Outdoor education relies on an implicit “ nature is good ” perspective, supported by: <ul><li>Psychoevolutionary theory (Neill, 2004)
  17. 20. Biophilia hypothesis (Kellert & Wilson, 1993; Wilson, 1984)
  18. 21. Nature-deficit disorder (Louv, 2005) </li></ul>
  19. 22. Direct and indirect effects of nature Outdoor education is characterised by : <ul><li>Direct engagement with natural environments (e.g., via senses)
  20. 23. Indirect engagement e.g., via adventure activities in natural environments mixed with periods of contemplation. </li></ul>
  21. 24. Natural environment in outdoor education theory Natural consequences <ul><li>neutral, immediate, unambiguous feedback which encourages adaptive coping rather than reliance on defense mechanisms (Hattie, et al., 1997) </li></ul> Natural learning
  22. 25. Wilderness settings and related activities are vehicles through which one can find something out about oneself (Scherl, 1982, p. 5). Being outside of normal, familiar contexts frees up previous habitual constraints, heightens arousal and focus and encourages experimentation with “new psychological strategies or a fresh sense of identity (Kimball & Bacon, 1993, p. 26). Natural environment in outdoor education theory
  23. 26. <ul><li>Another environmental mechanism is the novelty and unpredictability of remote, wilderness environments.
  24. 27. Intervention programs which take place in unfamiliar environments have greater effects (Hattie, J. M., 1992)
  25. 28. The exact processes involved, however, remain, unclear. </li></ul>Natural environment in outdoor education theory
  26. 29. Predominant aspects of the wilderness for participants: <ul><li>Emotional responses and level of arousal
  27. 30. Distinction between self and group (e.g., activities alone compared to activities requiring group cooperation)
  28. 31. Recognition that effort (either physical or mental) was part of the experience. (Scherl, 1988) </li></ul>Natural environment in outdoor education theory
  29. 33. Experiential theories Experiential learning principles provide an important basis for most outdoor education theories, models and programs, particularly: <ul><li>Dewey's theory of experience
  30. 34. Experiential learning cycles, spirals and waves </li></ul>
  31. 35. Dewey's democracy & education (1918) The goal of education is to enable people to become active, healthy participants of democratic society .
  32. 36. Dewey's theory of experience (1938) The task for education is guided direction of students' natural impulses . A balance needs to be struck between the freedom of individuals and the educative structure of the learning environment.
  33. 37. A theory of experience is needed, to help guide decision-making. Dewey's theory of experience (1938)
  34. 38. Dewey's theory of experience (1938) Experience Continuity
  35. 39. Four-stage experiential learning cycle with transfer of learning (Adapted from Kolb, 1984)
  36. 40. Three-stage experiential learning cycle
  37. 41. Three-stage experiential learning cycle spiral
  38. 42. The adventure wave (Adapted from Schoel et al., 1988, in Rawson, 1991, p.18)
  39. 43. Dramaturgy wave (Adapted from Martin, 2001, p. 36)
  40. 45. Psycho-social theories <ul><li>Learning theory and group dynamics
  41. 46. Stress inoculation
  42. 47. Educational psychology </li></ul>
  43. 48. Learning theory and group psychodynamics Learning theory <ul><li>Modeling
  44. 49. Contracting
  45. 50. Positive and negative reinforcement </li></ul>Group psychodynamics <ul><li>Facilitator guides psychodynamics
  46. 51. Stages of group development
  47. 52. Social support </li></ul>
  48. 53. Stress-inoculation Educative encountering with stress has been described as educative disequilibrium and adaptive dissonance (Walsh & Golins, 1976)
  49. 54. Educational psychology Immediacy of experience Feedback Specific and difficult goals Reassess-ment of coping strategies Hattie et al. (1997) recommended further investigation of: Specific and difficult goals Social support Feedback Neill (2008) also suggests importance of:
  50. 56. Multi-element theories <ul><li>Outward Bound model
  51. 57. Ingredients of outdoor adventure
  52. 58. Learning combination lock model
  53. 59. Other theories </li></ul>
  54. 60. The Outward Bound Process Model (Adapted from Walsh & Golins, 1976)
  55. 61. Experiential learning process flow ( Gager, 1978, p. 5 )
  56. 62. The ingredients of outdoor adventure (Barret & Greenaway , 1995 )
  57. 63. The learning combination lock (Beard, 2002)
  58. 65. Systems framework A dynamic organisation of interrelationships between theoretical elements involved in outdoor education programs: <ul><li>Interactive (Dewey)
  59. 66. Domains (Multi-element theories) </li></ul>
  60. 67. Systems framework domains Seven interactive domains are proposed: <ul><li>Individual (I) : Physical strength, flexibility, and agility, motivation, personality, self-conceptions, and past experiences;
  61. 68. Environment (E) : Rock, weather, and location;
  62. 69. Activity (A) : Grade (difficulty) and type of climb;
  63. 70. Program (P) : Philosophy used to guide participants through this particular type of activity;
  64. 71. Group (G) : Group dynamics, behaviour, and atmosphere;
  65. 72. Facilitator (F): Facilitation style, technical skills, and rapport with participants; and
  66. 73. Culture (C) : Cultural norms and beliefs. </li></ul>
  67. 74. Temporal change Each domain has a pre-existing state (continuity) which interacts with the present milieu to create one's current, unique experience:
  68. 75. Systems framework (Adapted from Neill , 2008 ) Individual's current experience Individual pre-existing Activity Facilitator Group Program Environment C i Cultural milieu
  69. 76. Systems framework
  70. 77. Systems framework Systems framework
  71. 78. Systems framework Systems framework
  72. 79. Systems framework Systems framework
  73. 80. Systems framework Systems framework
  74. 81. Systems framework Systems framework
  75. 82. Systems framework Systems framework
  76. 83. Systems framework Systems framework
  77. 84. Leaders assist process “ the role of leaders can be seen as assisting the process rather than assisting the participant” - (Handley, 1997, p. 74)
  78. 85. Experiment, adapt, improve theory “ An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” - Friedrich Engels Theory Practice
  79. 86. <ul><li>Einstein, Albert, and Leopold Infeld. The Evolution of Physics: The Growth of Ideas from Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta. 1938. New York: Simon, 1963.
  80. 87. Ewert, A. (1982). A study of the effects of participation of an Outward Bound short course upon the reported self-concepts of selected participants [Abstract]. Dissertation Abstracts International, 43(09), p. 3111.
  81. 88. Handley, R. (1997). Strategic leadership: Non-direct intervention - Minimum direct action for maximum active direction. In T. Gray & B. Hayllar (Eds.), Catalysts for Change: 10th National Outdoor Education Conference Proceedings (pp. 74-78), January 20-24, Collaroy Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia: The Outdoor Professionals.
  82. 89. Lewin, K. (1951) Field theory in social science; selected theoretical papers. D. Cartwright (ed.). New York: Harper & Row.
  83. 90. Neill, J. T. (2008). Enhancing personal effectiveness: Impacts of outdoor education programs. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Western Sydney. ick to add an outline </li></ul>
  84. 91. Open Office Impress <ul><li>This presentation was made using Open Office Impress.
  85. 92. Free and open source software.
  86. 93. http://www.openoffice.org/product/impress.html </li></ul>

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