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The effect of Outward Bound high school programs on adolescents' self-concept, mental health, and coping strategies

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James T. Neill

Honours Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia, 1994

Abstract

This study evaluated the effect of Outward Bound high school programs on normal adolescents' self-concept, mental health, and coping. A quasi-experimental design was used, with a pre-program assessment one to two weeks prior to the intervention and a followup assessment eight to ten weeks after the intervention. Subjects were 14 and 15 year old students from five Australian high schools. The experimental group consisted of 251 (143 male and 108 female) subjects. The control group consisted of 115 (56 male and 59 female) subjects.

Results showed that the experimental group had a greater increase than the control group for overall self-concept scores. The particular self-concept dimensions which changed were Physical Appearance, General School, and Maths. The experimental group also reported a greater improvement than the control group for Psychological Well-Being. An unexpected finding was that the experimental group had a greater overall reduction than the control group in their reported use of coping strategies. This finding was discussed with regard to implications for intervention programs, coping theory, and further research.

The results are considered to be valid and reliable. Unlike the majority of intervention program research, the findings cannot be questioned on the grounds of test-retest effects or contextual biases caused by administering self-report questionnaires at the beginning and end of intervention programs. Overall, the size of change for the experimental group compared to the change for the control group was small, consistent with other research on intervention programs for normal adolescents (Cason & Gillis, 1994; Hattie, J. M., 1992).

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