Adventure education

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Adventure education is the promotion of learning through adventure centered experiences.

Adventure centered experiences can include a wide variety of activities, due to the different ways people experience adventure. Outdoor sports, challenge courses, races, and even indoor activities can be used in adventure education. Adventure education is related to adventure programming, adventure therapy, and outdoor education. It is an active process rather than a passive process of learning that requires active engagement from the learners as well as the instructors.[1] Often adventure education is linked to an incorporation of all five senses within the experiences which can heighten the opportunities for learning and retaining information. The learning experiences within adventure education programs are structured for a potential increase in human performance and capacity[2]

Definition of adventure[edit]

Merriam-Webster defines adventure as "an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks". Danger is defined as "exposure or liability to injury, pain, harm, or loss." Danger involves two factors which are perils- the origins of injury or the causes of loss, and hazards- the conditions that emphasize the chance of injury or loss.[3] Risk is defined as "potential loss or injury". Risk can be described as "real risk" or "perceived risk" [4] such as bungee jumping; it seems as though there is a high level of risk, but with proper equipment it can be relatively safe. Danger, then is the exposure, or magnitude, of the harm a person may encounter; risk is the probability of that harm. These two variables are filtered through a person's perceptions, which may or may not be accurate.

Consequently, adventure is created through a person's perception of the magnitude of the potential risk, and the probability of loss. An activity with relatively low magnitude but high probability of harm (such as adventure racing or slacklining) may be just as much of an adventure as an activity with relatively high magnitude and low probability of harm (such as sport rock climbing, skydiving, or riding a roller coaster).

Outcomes of adventure education programming[edit]

Adventure education has many positive outcomes. A meta-analysis of adventure education studies identified forty major outcomes, grouped into the following six categories: leadership, self-concept, academic, personality, interpersonal, and adventuresomeness.[5] Adventure education often employs practical skills that will benefit an individual in areas beyond the activities in an adventure program. There are three theories of transfer in adventure education in which the participant may apply what they learned into future experiences.[6] The first of these theories is "specific transfer"- the learner applies the habits and skills learned during an experience to a new and similar experience (e.g. when an individual learns how to belay during a rock climbing experience and then applies that knowledge to rappelling). The second theory is "nonspecific transfer"- the learner establishes some common principles acquired through previous experiences and applies them in a new learning situation (e.g. when an individual develops trust through a trust building activity). The third theory is "metaphoric transfer"- the learner applies similar underlying principles to other areas and situations (e.g. when individuals utilize teamwork during an activity such as canoeing and later applies it to the workplace or other group experiences).[7]

Program characteristics that contribute to program outcomes[edit]

There are six categories of program characteristics that contribute to achieving the program outcomes described above. These are the physical environment, activities, processing, the group, instructors, and the participant.[8]

Physical environment[edit]

Unfamiliar environments contribute a great deal to program outcomes experienced by adventure education participants. Being in a new environment allows participants to gain new perspectives on familiar environments[9] and gives them the freedom to experiment.[10] An unfamiliar environment also creates some level of anxiety for the participant, as well as creating the perception of risk. Overcoming the challenges presented by unfamiliar environments through the mastery of specific tasks results in positive benefits to the individual, such as increased self-esteem.[11] Positive outcomes are offered by several types of environments, including wilderness, non-wilderness (e.g. ropes-course), or a traditional classroom. However, wilderness is often considered as providing additional benefits to participants, thus being the optimal environmental setting for adventure education programs.[12]

Activities[edit]

Rather than activities themselves, it is the qualities of activities that are responsible for achieving program outcomes.[13] The combination of challenge, mastery, and success in activities is what led to participant growth. Challenges should be holistic in order to maximize positive outcomes. Programs should include mental, emotional, and physical challenges, and encourage concurrent mastery in all three domains.[14] Challenges should also increase incrementally, so as not to overwhelm participants early on in the program but allow them to grow and develop throughout. Activities should be well organized and matched to suit the particular needs and requirements of the participants. The GRABBS model[15] (Goals, Readiness, Affect, Behavior, Body, and Stage of Development) is a good method for matching activities and participants. Success in the activities must be achievable. However, some failure may also be good for participant development.[16] Program participants can learn from their failures to achieve success. Goal-setting is critical to achieving program outcomes, at both the individual and group levels. It is also important to allow participants to have personal choice related to activities. The "challenge-by-choice" philosophy of adventure programming allows the participant to have some autonomy related to the activities s/he participates in.

While the qualities of activities are most important in achieving program outcomes, there are also specific activities that are well-suited to adventure programming.[17] These include activities related to trust and empathy (e.g. trust falls), communication, decision-making and problem solving, social responsibility, and personal responsibility.

Processing[edit]

Processing is defined as "the sorting and ordering of information" that enables program participants to internalize meaning gained from an adventure education experience[18] Three models have been identified by which participants process meaning.[19] In the "Mountains Speak for Themselves" model, participants are responsible for reflecting on their experiences on their own, without facilitation from the instructor. In the "Outward Bound Plus" model, the instructor serves as a counselor, facilitator, and discussion leader. In the metaphoric model, activities are consciously framed so that they become experiential metaphors that can be applied to challenges in participants' daily lives.

The group[edit]

Several characteristics of the group also contribute to achieving program outcomes. In terms of the size of the group, small groups of seven to fifteen individuals are usually more conducive to achieving desired outcomes.[20] Reciprocity within the group is also important. This refers to group members learning to cooperate with one another and capitalize on the strengths of each individual.[21] Autonomy of individuals and personal relationships are other aspects of the group that contribute to achievement.[22]

Instructors[edit]

Certain aspects of program instructors such as biographical characteristics, personality, and interpersonal interactions can have a large influence on participants' achievement of desired program outcomes.[23]

The participant[edit]

The age, gender, background, and expectations of program participants have also been shown to be related to the achievement of program outcomes.[24]

Applications of adventure education[edit]

Adventure education programming can be implemented in several contexts, including therapy for youth at risk,[25] survivors of sexual assault,[26] families in distress,[27] and persons with medical conditions.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2005). Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  2. ^ Miles, J. C. Priest, S. (1999). Adventure Programming. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
  3. ^ Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2005). Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  4. ^ Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2005). Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  5. ^ Hattie, J., Marsh, H., Neill, J. T., & Richards, G. (1997). Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of class experiences that make a lasting difference. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 43–48.
  6. ^ Miles, J. C., Priest, S. (1999). Adventure Programming. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
  7. ^ Miles, J. C., Priest, S. (1999). Adventure Programming. State College, PA: Venture Publishing.
  8. ^ McKenzie, M.D. (2000). How are adventure education program outcomes achieved?: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1), 19-28.
  9. ^ Walsh, V. & Golins, G. (1976). The exploration of the Outward Bound process. Denver, CO: Colorado Outward Bound School.
  10. ^ Kimball, R. O., & Bacon, S. B. (1993). The wilderness challenge model. In M. A. Gass (Ed.), Adventure therapy: Therapeutic applications of adventure programming (pp. 11-41). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  11. ^ Nadler, R. S. (1993). Therapeutic process of change. In M. A. Gass (Ed.) Adventure therapy: Therapeutic applications of adventure programming (pp. 57-69). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  12. ^ Hattie, J., Marsh, H., Neill, J. T., & Richards, G. (1997). Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of class experiences that make a lasting difference. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 43–48.
  13. ^ McKenzie, M.D. (2000). How are adventure education program outcomes achieved?: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1), 19-28.
  14. ^ Walsh, V. & Golins, G. (1976). The exploration of the Outward Bound process. Denver, CO: Colorado Outward Bound School.
  15. ^ Schoel, J., Prouty, D., & Radcliffe, P. (1988). Islands of healing: A guide to adventure based counseling. Hamilton, MA: Project Adventure, Inc.
  16. ^ Witman, J. P. (1995). Characteristics of adventure programs valued by adolescents in treatment. Monograph on Youth in the 1990s, 4, 127-135.
  17. ^ Schoel, J., Prouty, D., & Radcliffe, P. (1988). Islands of healing: A guide to adventure based counseling. Hamilton, MA: Project Adventure, Inc.
  18. ^ Luckner, J. L., & Nadler, R. S. (1997). Processing the experience: Strategies to enhance and generalize learning. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  19. ^ Bacon, S. B. (1987). The evolution of the Outward Bound process. Greenwich, CT: Outward Bound.
  20. ^ Walsh, V. & Golins, G. (1976). The exploration of the Outward Bound process. Denver, CO: Colorado Outward Bound School.
  21. ^ Hopkins, D., & Putnam, R. (1993). Personal growth through adventure. London, England: David Fulton Publishers.
  22. ^ McKenzie, M.D. (2000). How are adventure education program outcomes achieved?: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1), 19-28.
  23. ^ McKenzie, M.D. (2000). How are adventure education program outcomes achieved?: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1), 19-28.
  24. ^ McKenzie, M.D. (2000). How are adventure education program outcomes achieved?: A review of the literature. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 5(1), 19-28.
  25. ^ Cross, R. (2002). The effects of an adventure education program on perceptions of alienation and personal control among at-risk adolescents. Journal of Experiential Education, 25(1), 247-254.
  26. ^ Ross, S. (2003). The therapeutic effects of an adventure challenge program on the personal empowerment of women survivors of sexual trauma. Journal of Experiential Education, 25(3), 350.
  27. ^ Chen, T., Haljun, B., & Schwer Canning, S. (2003). Adventure as enrichment: Measuring social outcomes for families. Journal of Experiential Education, 25(1), 352.
  28. ^ Sugerman, D. (2005). "I am more than my cancer:" An exploratory examination of adventure programming and cancer survivors. Journal of Experiential Education, 28(1), 72-83.