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James T. Neill - Biography

Last updated:
25 Jul 2006

  In Brief   Work & Study   Teaching  Research & Publications    Consulting 


Brief Bio

I am a  psychologist and a researcher, with expertise and interests in outdoor education, experiential learning, and personal development.  I love working with people who strive to make the world a better place.

Hiking the Stewart Island track,
New Zealand, 1998

In the office,
University of New Hampshire,
USA, 2002

100 Word Biography

James Neill is a lecturer in the Centre for Applied Psychology, with a passion for knowledge-sharing via teaching and research.  I am particularly interested in the phenomena of human change.  I am a former Outward Bound instructor, and a keen adventurer of mind, body and planet.  I enjoy working with people who want to save the world.   My university teaching has focused on personality, intelligence, developmental and social psychology, and research methods.  Among other projects, I have created a popular online collection of group games and teambuilding activities.


In the wilderness with offspring#1, Pawtackaway State Park, New Hampshire, USA, 2001

Background In Brief

James Thomas Neill (Wikipedia; b.1970) harks from Perth, Western Australia ("the most isolated city in the world"). 

I currently work as a full-time academic in the Centre for Applied Psychology at the University of Canberra (Australia). 

During 2005-2006 I have been working on a research grant from the Outdoor Education Group to develop a web-based program evaluation tool and research program for examining longitudinal and comparative personal, social and environmental outcomes of OEG's programs.  I also teach Social Psychology and Survey Research and Design.

My previous academic appointment was teaching outdoor education and research methods in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of New Hampshire (USA) (2001-2003).  Prior to that I worked as an instructor and research coordinator at Outward Bound Australia (1988-1996).


  • B.Sc., majoring in Psychology and Human Movement
    (University of Western Australia, 1991)

  • B.Sc.(Hons) in Psychology
    (Australian National University, 1994)

  • Currently completing PhD in Educational Psychology
    (University of Western Sydney)


Background - Work & Study History

I grew up in Perth, enjoying an idyllic coastal urban Western culture, and thrived on sport, academics, and outdoor adventure.  Since then I've been exploring, working in, and researching, various forms of adventurous learning and education.

Following high school, I spent a summer fruitpicking, then worked for Outward Bound Australia over a period of 10 years (1988-1997), mainly as an instructor, research coordinator, and staff trainer.

I also completed an undergraduate science degree, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Movement studies (University of Western Australia) (1989-1991).  On an overseas trip, I worked for New York Outward Bound Center and sailed east-west across the Pacific Ocean with a youth crew aboard the 72ft ketch Sir Thomas Sopwith.

Becoming increasingly fascinated with the psychological aspects of how people behave and change during adventurous experiences, I began collating and archiving Outward Bound and adventure education research in 1992.  I completed an honors degree in psychology, with a thesis focusing on the effects of Outward Bound programs for adolescents at the Australian National University in 1994.

After leaving Outward Bound, I tutored (1996-1998) and lectured (1999-2001) in psychology at the University of Canberra and Australian National University, specializing in research methods and personality and developmental psychology.

In 2001, I moved to the USA to teach at the University of New Hampshire in the Department of Kinesiology.  I taught research and professional literature topics in the graduate program, and outdoor education philosophy and methods, and backpacking in the undergraduate program.

Since returning to Australia (mid-2003) I focused on parenting, part-time lecturing in psychology, research consulting, and working on my Ph.D. in Education. (More info about the thesis).  In 2005, I returned to work full-time in the Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra, where I teach social psychology and research methods.  During 2005-2006 I have been working on a research grant from the Outdoor Education Group to develop a web-based program evaluation tool and research program for examining longitudinal and comparative personal, social and environmental outcomes of OEG's programs.

Instructing a 9-day Outward Bound expedition program for adults, North Queensland, Australia, July, 1990

Cycling up and down hills, Tasmania, Australia, 1994


I have taught in three university departments:

  • Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra (UC)

  • Department of Psychology, Australian National University (ANU)

  • Department of Kinesiology, University of New Hampshire (UNH)

I have convened (coordinated) university courses in the following areas:

I have tutored university courses in the following areas:

  • Health psychology

  • Social psychology

  • Abnormal psychology

  • Cognitive psychology

  • Risk & resilience in childhood & adolescence


James tutoring in psychology, University of Canberra, 1999

Teaching with offpsring#2,
University of New Hampshire, USA, 2002
(they still use blackboards!)

Research & Publications

I have published or presented approximately 40 papers since the mid-1990's, all of which are available online.  The focus of James' research has been on the psychological impact and processes of interventions such as outdoor education programs.  The main topics have been:

  • What are the effects of psycho-social intervention programs on people's well-being and life effectiveness?
  • How can meta-analysis and in particular the use of effect sizes aid in program evaluation and quality improvement?
  • Development of program evaluation tools and evaluation systems to facilitate the development of effective intervention programs.
  • The role of adolescent coping skills in psychological resilience, including examination of the theory of coping with stress, the measurement of coping, and training of positive coping skills in adolescents and adults
  • The relationship between motivation and satisfaction in volunteers, university students, and participants in experiential programs.
  • Development of web-based systems for program evaluation of personal and social development intervention programs.

You may be interested to view the 10 most popular publications.


I provide research consulting, usually involving:

  • Design & conduct of program evaluations & program evaluation tools
  • Research statistics & report writing
  • Outdoor education staff training

My personality

You made it this far!?  Want to know about what I'm really like?  Here you go - my personality & more photos.