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Brief Evaluation of the Mystery Adventure Experience

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James T. Neill

University of New Hampshire, 2002

Overview

An undergraduate class of 37 American outdoor education students were involved in a one-day “Mystery Adventure”.  The program design was based on a holistic ‘wave theory’ model, as described by Martin (2001) in the context of Outward Bound program design in the Czech Republic.  The one-day Mystery Adventure was based in a small, rural town and involved students in small groups selecting their own level of engagement in approximately nine social, environmental, physical and emotional challenges.  An example of a social challenge was, as a group, to get the life story from someone who was over the age of 55 years old.  Other challenges included writing your own eulogy (emotional), 50 successive Frisbee throw-and-catches (physical), and spending 15 minutes alone in the woods (environmental).  Participants completed the short version of the Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ-H) before and after the Mystery Adventure and a program evaluation sheet at the end of the experience which asked for ratings of the challenge level and value of each activity and of the overall experience.  Results suggested that the Mystery Adventure was a reasonably successful application of the Wave Theory of experiential education.  Some particular activities (e.g., Solo) were highlighted as being more effective than others, warranting further investigation.  One of the most consistent comments from participants was a desire for the Mystery Adventure to take place in a novel location and there was a sense from the comments that participants would have liked to have a higher level of challenge, particularly physical challenge in the activities.

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