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The melting pot of outdoor education effects:
Testing the flavours of program type, duration and participant age

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James T. Neill

In Proceedings of the 11th National Outdoor Education Conference, 11-15 January, Perth, Western Australia: Camping and Outdoor Education Association of Western Australia, pp.112-118, 1999

Abstract

This study reports results from doctoral work on ‘life effectiveness’ outcomes for participants in Outward Bound and other outdoor education programs. Several possible factors (such as program length, age of participant, etc.) which could influence outdoor education effects are investigated. Results suggest that longer programs tend to have the greatest impacts. Adult-age participants also appear to have a greater ‘readiness’ for change. The most positive outcome was in the area of Time Management. Strong gains were also evident for ‘classic’ outdoor education outcomes including Self Confidence, Social Competence, Emotional Control and Task Leadership. Less impressive (but still positive) gains were found for participants’ initiative taking, motivation to achieve and getting actively involved. Perhaps outdoor education could explore better ways of facilitating participants’ development in these areas. Finally, the analyses show that enhancement of ‘life effectiveness’ is maintained, on average, for at least 5 months after program completion. There is some loss of gains up to 12 months after program completion, but overall, people who participate in outdoor education programs continue to feel more effective in their lives than they did prior to their big adventure.

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