Outward Bound Australia - What the Research Really Says!


James T. Neill

Outward Bound Australia, 1998


The marketing, the stories, the instructors and the theories all give the impression that Outward Bound works. From one small idea in the 1940's there are now over 40 schools and thousands of people doing Outward Bound programs around the world everyday. This remarkable growth of an 'alternative', non-for-profit approach to education and training is testimony to the success of Outward Bound programs

For many people this sort of evidence speaks for itself .... the renewed sparkle in someone's eyes, the excitement when people realise that their potential is more than they'd previously dreamt, the close sense of community experienced by people who were once strangers .... and so the list goes on. For many people, what can be seen, heard, felt, and the stories that are told, is what Outward Bound is really about.

Indeed, this has been the approach of Outward Bound Australia (OBA). Since 1969 OBA has been inviting, initiating and doing scientific research on the processes and effects of its programs. A summary of the studies produced by extensive research program can be found at the end of this page. This current document takes a different approach. The answers to key questions such as "Does Outward Bound Australia really work?", "Do the effects last?" and "How does Outward Bound Australia compare with other outdoor programs?" are presented and illustrated in such a way that staff, clients, sponsors, researchers and other interested people can understand what 30 years of research investigation has discovered.

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