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Outdoor education theory

or Square-Blob-Star Model of Change

James Neill
Last updated:
04 Jun 2004

Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze or Square-Blob-Star Model of Change

Rhoades (1972) proposed a simple three-step "unfreeze-change-refreeze" model to describe the process of the growth and change during outdoor education programs.  This 3-step change process was first described by Kurt Lewin (see Field Theory).  It is also described as the square-blob-star model.  It basically means going from State A into an unfrozen, unformed or "blob" change, and then reforming in a different pattern, such as a star.

  1. The first step, “unfreeze” involves the process of letting go of certain restricting attitudes during the initial stages of an outdoor education experience. 

  2. The second step, "change" involves alteration of self-conceptions and ways of thinking during the experience.

  3. The third step, "refreeze" involves solidifying or crystallizing the changes into a new, permanent form for the individual, a process which takes place towards the end of an outdoor education program.

Rhoades seems to have based this individual change model on Lewin's (1951) model for organizational change.  This model has some similarities Van Gennep's and Maddern's rites of passage models.

If you're still curious about Lewin's 3-stage unfreeze-change-refreeze model, explore these links: