TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF AN OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM: LISTENING TO PARTICIPANTSÂ’ STORIES By SHANNON DEE SHANELY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006
Copyright 2006 by Shannon Dee Shanely
Since becoming a mom, IÂ’ve often heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Since embarking on my stint as a doctoral student, I have realized that it also takes a village to raise a doctoral student. This dissertation is dedicated to those people without whose love, patience, help, and gentle shoves this dissertation wouldnÂ’t have been completed. To my parents, who have supported me in everything I do, even if you donÂ’t understand why, your unconditional love, guidance, and accep tance of my Â“road less traveledÂ” has made me the person I am today. Thank You. To my immediate family, thank you for cheerin g me on with love and laughter. To my extended family, Ingrid, Bubba, and Key, your friendship, love, and generosity has inspired me to be a better person. Thank you isnÂ’t an adequate word to express how grateful I am for everything you have done for me, but thank you for the computer, the couch, the frozen yogurt, the beach, the la ughter, and of course, the wine. To my husband, Andy. I could not be more ble ssed to have a friend, confidant, and life partner like you. Your understa nding of this whole crazy pr ocess and constant support kept me going when I wanted to quit. You are an amazing individual, and I hope that I make your life half as wonderful as you have made mine! I love you! And to my Mia bean, always remember Th e Lorax, my dear girl, because Â“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothingÂ’s going to ge t better, itÂ’s not!Â”
iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to acknowledge those who made the successful completion of this project possible: my mentor, Dr. Linda J ones; and my committee members, Dr. Paul George, Dr. Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, and Dr. Martha Monroe. Collectively and individually, my committee pr ovided me with invaluable guidance, instruction, and patience. I would also like to acknowledge Sharon Ha yes for her insightf ul reviews of my writing, amazingly quick turn-around time, inte llectually stimulating talks about school and life in general, and inspiring me to ge t it done. I thank y ou for your unconditional friendship, Sharon; I couldnÂ’t ha ve done this without you! A muddy, tree-hugging thank you goes to the st aff and Executive Director Marcia Lane of Pathfinder Outdoor Education for ope ning their doors to me, my crazy ideas, and my research study. The commitment you a ll have to bettering the lives of your participants re-ignited my passion for outdoor education and for that I will be forever grateful! A special thank you goes to Mirka Koro-L jungberg for opening my eyes to the world of qualitative research. You someho w made the abstract understandable and constantly pushed me to think outside the proverbial box. Your outlook on life is refreshing, and you empowered me to reach high er and dig deeper. I thank you for taking the time to talk and more importantly to listen. And thank you for being a friend.
v A student is only capable of what her mentor demands, and I cannot thank my mentor, friend, confidant, and surrogate mo ther, Linda Jones enough for her unwavering support of me throughout my tenure as her grad uate student. It took me a long time to discover my passion, and Linda encouraged me the whole time. You opened your heart and your home to me and have been such a la rge part of the most important moments of my life. I was blessed to have you as a gra duate mentor and look fo rward to the years of fun, collaboration, and friendship that lie ahead.
vi TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES...............................................................................................................x ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... xi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Origins of the Study......................................................................................................3 Purpose of the Study.....................................................................................................5 Research Questions.......................................................................................................6 Overview of Study Design............................................................................................7 Limitations.................................................................................................................... 8 Overview of Results.....................................................................................................9 Implications..................................................................................................................9 Summary of Chapters.................................................................................................10 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE.....................................................................................11 Introduction.................................................................................................................11 Outdoor Education......................................................................................................11 Origins of Outdoor Education....................................................................................14 Stage 1: Early Influences on Outdoor Education................................................15 Stage 2: Idea Formulation and Camp ing Education in the United States (1930Â–1940).....................................................................................................17 Stage 3: Experimentation and Standard ization of Outdoor Education in the United States (1940Â–1970)..............................................................................19 Stage 4: New Directions and Decisions for Outdoor Education as Environmental Education Emerged in the U.S. (1970Â–present)......................22 The Research Tradition in U.S. Outdoor Education...................................................25 Era 1: The Formative Era in Outdoor Education Research in the U.S. (1930Â– 1940)................................................................................................................26 Era 2: Attitude Measurement Era in U.S. Outdoor Education (1940Â–1950).......28 Era 3: The ObjectivesÂ–Based Outcom es Era in U.S. Outdoor Education (1960Â–1970).....................................................................................................29 Era 4: The Outcomes Era in U. S. Outdoor Education (1960Â–1970)...................31
vii School subject Â– learning outcomes.............................................................32 Social Â– learning outcomes..........................................................................33 Era 5: Era of Redefinition of Resear ch in U.S. Outdoor Education (1970Â– 1980)................................................................................................................34 No Child Left Inside: Outdoor Education Today.......................................................35 Looking Backward, Looking Forward................................................................36 Early Childhood Experiences in th e Outdoors (ages preÂ–K to 10).....................42 Adolescents and the Outdoors (ages 11Â–15).......................................................48 Social and Cultural Connections to the Outdoors...............................................51 Outdoor education as a social experience....................................................51 Nature/human relationships..........................................................................52 Ecology of family.........................................................................................56 Summary..............................................................................................................57 3 METHODS.................................................................................................................61 The Practice of Qualitative Research.........................................................................62 Theoretical Orientation: Hermeneutic Phenomenology......................................64 Historical roots: Phenomenology.................................................................65 Historical roots: Hermeneutics.....................................................................66 Hermeneutic Phenomenology......................................................................67 Setting of the Study....................................................................................................70 Outdoor Education Program Background Information.......................................70 The Camp Site.....................................................................................................72 Outdoor Education Program Participants............................................................72 Data Collection and Sources.......................................................................................74 Data Collection Phases........................................................................................75 Justification of Photograph Use by Study Participants.......................................79 Data Analysis..............................................................................................................82 The Critical Incident Technique..........................................................................82 Data analysis within the CIT...............................................................................83 Consistency as a Form of Validity..............................................................................85 Subjectivity Statement................................................................................................87 4 FINDINGS..................................................................................................................89 Using Critical Incident Technique..............................................................................89 Participant Introduction..............................................................................................92 Joe........................................................................................................................92 Pedro....................................................................................................................93 Judy......................................................................................................................94 Lucy.....................................................................................................................96 Critical Events Related to Community................................................................97 Hanging out with friends..............................................................................98 Working together as a group/team.............................................................101 Making friends...........................................................................................104 Feeling frustration with their group...........................................................109
viii Getting to know counselors........................................................................112 Boyfriend said Â“I love youÂ”.......................................................................113 Summary of critical events related to community.....................................114 Critical Events Related to Activities.................................................................115 Challenge course........................................................................................116 Canoeing.....................................................................................................118 Participating in the Memory Campfire.......................................................119 Participating in the Underground Railroad................................................122 Participating in Water World.....................................................................124 Participating in The Beast..........................................................................126 Summary of Critical Events Related to Activities.....................................127 Critical Events Related to The Natural World..................................................129 Interactions with trees/plants......................................................................129 Interactions with wildlife...........................................................................132 Having classes outside...............................................................................135 Not allowed to play outside at home..........................................................137 Participating in activities while it was raining...........................................138 Summary of critical events re lated to the natural world............................139 Critical Events Related to Accomplishments....................................................140 Achieving zero food waste.........................................................................140 Losing modern day comforts......................................................................143 Picked up trash while canoeing..................................................................144 Asserted individuality................................................................................145 Finding a New Learning Style...................................................................147 Caring about having friends.......................................................................148 Summary of Critical Events Related to Accomplishments........................149 Participant Epilogue..........................................................................................150 Joe...............................................................................................................150 Pedro...........................................................................................................150 Judy............................................................................................................151 Lucy............................................................................................................152 5 DISCUSSION...........................................................................................................154 Key Findings.............................................................................................................154 Research Question 1: How Do Outdoor Education Program Participants Interpret Their E xperience in the Natural World?.........................................154 A positive experience.................................................................................155 Challenge and autonomy............................................................................156 Research Question 2: How Does Participant Engagement with an Outdoor Education Program Shape Their Pe rception of the Natural World?..............157 Nature increased in importance..................................................................157 Reported comfort level in the outdoors increased......................................159 Nature as Â“out thereÂ”..................................................................................161 Research Question 3: How Does Partic ipant Interpretation of an Outdoor Education Program Shape Their Awareness of Actions in the Natural World When They Return Home?.................................................................162
ix Parents as barriers.......................................................................................162 Zero Food Waste action plan.....................................................................163 Hermeneutic Phenomenology Revisited...........................................................165 New Understandings.........................................................................................166 Implications for Practice...........................................................................................170 Classroom Educators.........................................................................................170 After-school Programs.......................................................................................171 Nonformal Education........................................................................................173 Implications for Research.........................................................................................174 APPENDIX A PATHFINDER OUTDOOR EDUCATION DAILY SCHEDULE.........................176 B PATHFINDER CURRICULUM CHOI CES AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SPECIFIC CLASSES PRES ENTED APRIL 25Â–28, 2005......................................177 C CAMP MAP.............................................................................................................180 D EXPERIENCES IN THE NATUR AL WORLD QUESTIONNAIRE.....................181 E INTERVIEW GUIDES............................................................................................183 F OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM SCHEDULE............................................184 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................188 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................202
x LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Study phases, data sources, and study dates.............................................................75 4-1 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents grouped within essential elements...........................90 4-2 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents with in the essential element of community.............97 4-3 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents with in the essential elem ent of activities...............115 4-4 ParticipantÂ’s critical in cidents within the essential element of natural world........129 4-5 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents with in essential element of accomplishments.......140
xi Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF AN OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM: LISTENING TO PARTICIPANTSÂ’ STORIES By Shannon Dee Shanely August 2006 Chair: Linda Jones Major Department: School of Teaching and Learning Today, human beings spend more than 90% of their lives indoors (Evans, 2003). Not long ago, both urban and rural children gr ew up mostly outdoors, and had direct experiences with plants, animals, and the ways in which the necessities of daily life were grown, made, and used. When they were not helping with household work, children spent much of their time exploring the outdoor environment, relatively free from adult interference. The lives of children today are much different. Children now have fewer opportunities for unstructured play and regular contact with the natural world. Outdoor education programs are one tool that can pr ovide children with continued access to the natural world. This study was conducted to determ ine how outdoor education program participants interpret their experiences in the natural world, how pa rticipant engagement with an outdoor education program shapes th eir perception of the natural world, and how
xii participant interpretation of an outdoor educa tion program shapes their actions for caring for the natural world when they return home. Using qualitative research methods, my st udy was conducted with four sixth-grade students participating in a four-day resi dential outdoor educat ion program. The participants, two females and two males, were given cameras to document the most important aspects of their outdoor education experience. The pictures were used to stimulate conversation and encourage reflec tion during the intervie w process. Data sources consisted of a pre-program interview with each student, daily interviews with students while they were pa rticipating in the outdoor education program, and a postprogram interview conducted one week afte r the program ended. Critical incident technique analysis was used to delineate the most critical elements of each participantÂ’s outdoor education experience. My study found that participan ts interpreted their outdoor education program as a positive experience. Classes that were challenging and gave independence from adults were perceived as most important by study pa rticipants. Friends were considered an important part of the outdoor education program by all of the particip ants, but the natural world became more important as the week pr ogressed. All four pa rticipants reported being more comfortable in the outdoors at the conclusion of the program, but their actions indicated otherwise. All four part icipants also viewed the natural world as something far removed and very different from their home life. Finally, after completing the outdoor education program, a ll four participants percei ved their parents as being barriers to spending more time outside and th ey all had adopted one new action to care for the natural world once they returned home.
1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Human beings spend more than 90% of their lives indoors (Evans, 2003). Between 1981 and 1997, the amount of time children ages 6Â–8 in the U.S. spent outside decreased 25% (almost four hours per week) from 15 hour s a week to 11 hours and 10 minutes per week. During the same period, the time 6Â–8 year olds spent in school increased by almost 5 hours per week (Hofferth & Sandberg, 2001). Not long ago, both urban and rural children in the U.S.grew up mostly outdoors, with multiple opportunities for direct experien ces with plants and animals, and with an awareness of the ways in which the necessiti es of daily life were grown, made, and used. When they weren't helping with household work, children spent much of their time exploring the outdoor environment, relatively fr ee from adult interference. By the late twentieth century, however, many children's environments had become urbanized (Chawla, 1999). But even as recently as 1970, children still had relatively easy access to nature. They spent their r ecreation time outdoors, using the sidewalks, streets, playgrounds, parks, greenways, vacant lots a nd backyards near their homes and schools. The lives of children today are much different. Children today have fewer opportunities for unstructured play and regular contact with the natural world (KyttÃ¤, 2004). A culture of fear has pare nts afraid for their children's safety. And, due to a fear of strangers, many children are no longer free to roam their neighborhoods or even their own yards unless they are accompanied by adults (Pyle, 2002; Herrington & Studtmann, 1998). Many working parents can not be home to supervise their ch ildren after school,
2 giving rise to latchkey children who stay indoors or attend supe rvised after-school activities. The culture of childhood that included playi ng outside is gone and the everyday life of children has shifted to the i ndoors (Moore, 1996). Kellert (2002) argues that society today has become so estranged fr om its natural origins that it has failed to recognize our species' basic dependence on nature as a condition for growth and development. Today, children's experiences are predom inately mediated in media, written language, and visual images (Chawla, 1999). The virtual is replacing the real (Pyle, 2002). Television, nature documentaries, Nationa l Geographic and othe r nature channels and environmental fundraising appeals are c onditioning children to think that nature is exotic, awe-inspiring and in faraway places they will never e xperience (Chipeniuk, 1995). Children are losing the understanding that nature exists in th eir own backyards and neighborhoods, which further disconnects them from knowledge and appreciation of the natural world (Haluza-Delay, 2001). The early years in a childÂ’s life can be vi ewed as a time of exploration, discovery, and play. It is a time marked by growt h, the enjoyment of ma ny activities, and the development of a unique individual view of the world (Holt, 1983). The outdoors reveals open spaces, natural beauty, and th e availability of the unknown, allowing for individual growth and learning (Holt, 1983) . However, do activities in the outdoors automatically lead to a development of sens itivity and eventual desire to protect and conserve the natural environment? If so, what is it about th ese early life outdoor experiences that helps to promote the devel opment of pro-environm ental behaviors later on? Several researchers report that earl y life experiences in the outdoors do play a
3 significant role in the development of pr o-environmental behaviors (Chawla, 1999; Dresner & Gill, 1994; Stapp, 1978; Tanner, 1980; Wilson, 1992). Based on the premise that children must first come to know a nd love the natural world before they can become concerned w ith its care, Tanner reported findings of research examining the significance of par ticular life experiences among conservationists in the United States and conc luded that participation in ou tdoor experiences during youth is the single most influential factor leading to ad ult concern for the environment (1980). This factor, youth experience in the outdoor s, was the focus of my research study. Origins of the Study The origins of this study began in my own childhood as I spent countless hours outdoors, developing a love and respect for al l things found in nature. From a young age I remember being baffled when some of my p eers did not want to get dirt on them and I got very upset when other peers caused harm or injury to plants or animals. Was it my experience in, and the freedom to explore, the ou tdoors that fostered my love of nature or were other factors involved? These thoughts surfaced again 10 years a go when I entered the field of outdoor education as an intern for a museum and envi ronmental education center in north-central Florida. School groups visite d on a daily basis and students had the opportunity to hike, swim, touch, look, smell, take pictures of , and explore their natural surroundings. I noticed that some students became totally absorbed in nature and embraced their experience, whereas other students recoil ed from the most harmless insect and complained incessantly about every aspect of the field trip. I also noticed similar behavior from teachers and adult chaperone s with each group. I began to wonder if students were simply modeling their teachersÂ’ behaviors, un til I observed a class that
4 thoroughly enjoyed their experience while th eir teacher stayed on the bus during the nature hike to avoid the mud on the trails. Intuitively, I knew there had to be more to these anecdotal observations and became inte rested in finding out answers to my questions about the impact of youth experiences in the outdoors. Further college-level educa tional experiences in outdoor recreation and education gave me some answers to my questions and ma de me aware of factor s such as the effect of adult role models, exposure to nature, f ears of the outdoors, beha vior change issues, and the effect of significant life experi ences on a childÂ’s level of environmental sensitivity. With continued experience and increased learning, I fe lt a mounting sense of frustration because, despite the wealth of accumulated research and information available, it didnÂ’t seem that the efforts of outdoor educators were paying off in terms of changing attitudes, fostering desirable be haviors, and promoting ideals with a proenvironmental focus. However, an article entitled Â“Nothi ng Here to Care About: Participant Constructions of Nature Following a 12-day Wilderness ProgramÂ” (Haluza-Delay, 2001) got my attention and made me realize that perhaps we, as researchers, were going about this the wrong way. In his ar ticle, Haluza-Delay moved away from the use of traditional attitude-behavior survey measurements and instead focused on examining how individual participants interprete d their own outdoor wilderness experiences. Although impressive, useful, and formative in outdoor and environmental educationÂ’s early years, the breadth of knowledge gained fr om over 30 years of research in these fields has been largely researcher-d riven. The aforementioned study inspired me to delve into a new area, to pursue a gr eater depth of knowledge driven by the
5 participants themselves. Specifically, I decide d to address how indivi duals interpret their experiences in the natural world and to expl ore how participants a pply and make use of such experiences when they return to their everyday lives. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to begin to fill the gap that currently exists related to research about participantsÂ’ subjective outdoor experiences. This study also investigated how individuals apply their outdoor educati on program experiences in everyday life to think and act in response to their personal environmental concerns. Outdoor education (OE) resear ch has established that OE experiences are formative events in participantsÂ’ live s (Sobel, 1995). However, the cumulative body of research literature in OE is relatively sparse (Bogner, 1998).The OE li terature has tended to focus on outcomes such as behavior, knowledge, and attitudes and ignore processes such as how individuals understand and make meaning out of their OE experiences. Very little research has been conducted that specifi cally focuses on how i ndividuals interpret experiences in the natural world. Even less re search has explored how participants use these experiences when they return to th eir daily lives (Haluz a-Delay, 2001; Hanna, 1995). This study had three areas of focus. Th e first involved identifying the essential elements of an outdoor education program th rough the eyes of the program participants themselves. Most research conducted in out door education has been conducted from the viewpoint of adults. Most studies have looked at what is of interest to adult researchers, not young participants. The programs are desi gned for, marketed to, and attended by children, but how can adults know what childr en view as important if they never ask them? What do participants view as the most essential elements of their outdoor
6 education program? Are they the same elem ents that we as adults have deemed important or are the elements different? The second area explored how engagement with an outdoor education program shapes participant perceptions of the natura l world. Promoting a positive and nurturing environmental ethic is an underlying focus of the outdoor education program studied. Does this make a difference in how the natura l world is seen by participants? Over 90% of the classes these participants attended during the outdoor education program were held outside. Did the outdoor setting have an im pact on the studentsÂ’ view of the natural world? If so, how? The third area investigated how participan t interpretations of an outdoor education program shapes their awareness of the natural world when they returned home. Experiences in the outdoors and the way part icipants view the natural world are related, each influencing the other as Â“the stories we tell ourselves about nature and human/nature relationships influence what, if any, nature experiences we seek out and then influence our interpretations of such experiencesÂ” (Russell, 1999, p. 127). While attending the outdoor education program, participants were given the opportunity to become better stewards of the natural world. Did the stude nts learn from this opportunity and have an increased awareness of the natural world when they returned home? Research Questions The specific research questions addr essed in this study were as follows: Research Question 1: How do outdoor educ ation program participants interpret their experience in the natural world? Research Question 2: How does participan t engagement with an outdoor education program shape their percep tion of the natural world?
7 Research Question 3: How does participant interpretation of an outdoor education program shape their awareness of actions in the natural world when they return home? Overview of Study Design The design chosen for this study was based on my understanding of qualitative research and my belief that these were the be st methods to use to investigate the three research questions. Based on a review of literature which revealed a lack of participantdriven studies, the most appropriate data s ources and data collecti on techniques for this study were repeated, individual, semi-structured interviews with four participants who had never participated in an outdoor educati on program before. Since study participants were adolescents, I also employed the use of cameras, which the participants used to record the most important elements of their pr ogram. I used the resulting pictures not as data, but as a way to stimula te conversation during our interviews and to give each individual participant a way to explain th e most essential elements of their outdoor education program experience. Data were collected during a four-day pe riod while the students were participating in an outdoor education program with the rest of their classmates. This intense collection time provided a study sample of information-ri ch participants, enabling me to obtain a clearer picture of one particular outdoor e ducation program. Collecting data while the students were participating in an outdoor e ducation program granted me real-time access to the thoughts of participants as they we re experiencing the outdoor education program. The post-interviews, conducted one week afte r the program ended, gave participants the ability to reflect on their expe riences and discuss the most important elements of their experience.
8 At the conclusion of the program, and af ter the post-interviews were completed, they were transcribed. The resulting data set was read and examined to identify patterns and emerging codes and themes. Due to the qual itative nature of this study, it is important to note that codes and themes emerged duri ng data analysis, not determined a-priori. Limitations As with all exploratory resear ch studies, the findings of this study are limited to the one specific OE program studied. The sample size was determined by the availability of schools that had already schedul ed a fouror five-day out door education program. The study focused on middle-school aged participan ts (11Â–14 years of age). Since this was one group out of over 5,000 individuals who pa rticipated in this outdoor education program during the calendar year, it may not be representative of all groups who have participated in this program previously or groups that will particip ate in the years to follow. Due to the small sample size and limited scope, the results of this study are not generalizable to a larger population of other outdoor education participants. Limiting the study to four participants enab led the study to be completed more expeditiously so that the results could help shape the dire ction and scope of future studies. All interviews were conducted by the same person and were therefore limited by the interview skills of the interviewer. Researcher subjectivities are identified in chapter 3 and were used in conjunction with herm eneutical phenomenology to gain a deeper understanding of the outdoor education progr am being studied. Although member checks and external audits were employed to streng then the study, the analys is and synthesis of study results may also be limited by the experi ence of the researcher and the chosen methods. Finally, this study did not include a long-term follow-up component to validate self-reported behavior or att itude changes of participants.
9 Overview of Results This study found that participants interp reted their outdoor ed ucation program as a positive experience. Classes that were ch allenging and gave independence from adults were perceived as most important by study pa rticipants. Friends were considered an important part of the outdoor education program by all of the particip ants, but the natural world became more important as the week pr ogressed. All four pa rticipants reported being more comfortable in the outdoors at the conclusion of the program, but their actions indicated otherwise. All four part icipants also viewed the natural world as something far removed and very different from their home life. Finally, after completing the outdoor education program, a ll four participants percei ved their parents as being barriers to spending more time outside and th ey all had adopted one new action to care for the natural world once they returned home. Implications This study is useful for pract itioners in the outdoor educa tion (OE) field. It offers an in-depth look at one OE program from the perspective of the par ticipants themselves. This Â“inside viewÂ” allows out door educators to draw their own understandings from the text and apply ideas to their own programs. Linking the elements of experience in the outdoors with the resulting interp retations of participant expe riences provided an in-depth picture of one OE program from the pers pective of four diff erent participants, highlighting important elements of participants Â’ perceptions. This study is also useful to current college and university students in th e OE field as a source of discussion and critique. This study also pr ovides useful supplements to the existing OE research literature. Finally, this study provides clas sroom teachers, after-school leaders, and
10 nonformal educators with specific recommendati ons of ways to structure school-based activities that replicate the benefits of re sidential multi-day outdoor education programs. Summary of Chapters This chapter provided an introduction to th e study and summarized the origins of the study, purpose of the study, research ques tions, study methods, and limitations of the study. Chapter 2 provides a review of th e literature focusing on the history of outdoor education in the U.S., the evol ution of the OE research trad ition of in the U.S., and the relevant research literature related to outdoor education toda y. Chapter 3 describes the theoretical framework for the study and pr ovides a description of the study design, including study setting, study sample, data sources, data collection and analysis techniques, subjectivity, and consistency. Chapter 4 presen ts the results of the study using the Critical Incident T echnique, while Chapter 5 disc usses all of the study results and presents overall conclusions of the study.
11 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction In this chapter, the literature reviewed provides a basis for my participantÂ–driven research in the field of outdoor education. One cannot know the direction for the future, however, without knowing what has happened in the past. Therefore, this chapter first defines the term outdoor education as it is used in the United States and provides a review of its historical foundation including gaps and weaknesses in out door education (OE) research. Next, existing outcomeÂ–based OE research is reviewed and the call for participantÂ–driven research is discussed. Th e chapter concludes with an exploration into the social and cultural aspect s of outdoor education to deve lop the theoretical framework that relates specifically to this study. Outdoor Education Outdoor education (OE) can be defi ned in various ways, depending on an individualÂ’s position, but the working definiti on used for this study, as well as most OE programs in use today, was proposed by L.B. Sharp in the 1930s. One of the earliest advocates of camping education, and consider ed one of the fathers of OE, SharpÂ’s definition of OE was simple but precise: Â“all of that learning include d in the curriculum in any subject matter area and at any grade level which can best be learned outside the classroomÂ” (Rillo, 1985, p. 7). SharpÂ’s definition of OE implies that it is not a separate subject in itself but rather includes content fr om several areas of the curriculum. SharpÂ’s most famous quote regarding OE makes that point implicitly: Â“Tha t which ought and can
12 best be taught inside the schoolhouse should there be taught and that which can best be learned through experience dealing directly wi th native materials and life situations outside the school should there be learnedÂ” (Rillo, 1985, p. 7). Throughout the 20th century, as the field of outdoor education matured, organizations emerged that worked to gain support for OE from KÂ–12 school personnel. For example, Julian W. Smith began the National Outdoor Education Project in 1955. Smith clarified the connecti on between outdoor education a nd the school curriculum in his definition: "Outdoor educat ion means learning Â‘inÂ’ and Â‘forÂ’ the outdoors. It is a means of curriculum extension and enri chment through outdoor experiences" (Hammerman, 1980, p. 33). Over time, definitions of outdoor educa tion became more general to accommodate a wide variety of programs. Donaldson a nd Donaldson (1958) defined outdoor education as "education in, about, and for the out of doors" (p. 63). Accordi ng to Priest (1986), outdoor education is "an experiential pro cess of learning by doing, which takes place primarily through exposure to the outÂ–ofÂ–door s" (p. 13), and Hammerman, Hammerman, and Hammerman (2001) simply stated that ou tdoor education is "education which takes place in the outdoors" (p. 5). To many people, OE refers to outdoor recreational activities such as camping, hiking, and canoeing. Others view OE as a method of expanding the more traditional indoor KÂ–12 school curriculum or as a pro cess involving more dire ct, personal learning experiences. Outdoor education contains programs that are curriculumÂ–oriented, behaviorÂ–oriented, recreati onÂ–oriented, conservationÂ–orient ed, and camping/survival oriented.
13 In its most inclusive sense, however, OE is education about the outdoors, and in the outdoors for the purpose of developing knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes concerning the world in which humans live. The term about suggests that the primary topic of OE is the outdoors itself and the biological, physical , social, and cultural aspects of the natural environment. The subject matte r of OE is a holistic combination of the interrelationships of humans and nature (For d, 1986). In broadest terms, the primary content topics of OE are th e interrelationships between human beings and the natural resources upon which they depend (Miles, 1987). SocioÂ–cultural aspects of OE include learning about social movements and history, as well as social issues and decisions that alter or determine the use of natural resources (Ford, 1986). Outdoor education can occur in any outdoor setting from a schoolyard in an urban neighborhood to a remote wilderness area. An educator may teach mathematics, biology, geology, communication, history, polit ical science, art, physical skills, or endurance, but learning occurs in the context of the outdoor s. Outdoor education can take place on a walk around the block or on a visi t to the grocery store, a grav el pit, or an urban renewal project. It can happen on the concrete of a playground, in the weeds of a vacant lot, during a trip to the city zoo, or in a nationa l park. All of these locations are conducive to firstÂ–hand experiences, direct contact with the topic, and partic ipant interaction and socialization (Ford, 1986; Hammerman, Ha mmerman, & Hammerman, 1994). Finally, the for explains that the purpose of OE is rela ted to Â“implementing the cognitive, psychoÂ– motor, and affective domains of learning fo r the sake of the ecosystem itselfÂ” (Ford, 1986, p. 1). Outdoor education promotes unde rstanding, using, and appreciating natural resources for their sustainability.
14 Programs for learning about the outdoors occur at all levels in the formal educational system. Program types include short and long field trips as well as residential outdoor schools. Some KÂ–12 sc hools operate miniÂ–farms, gardens or nature trails as part of their OE programs. Li ke most learning, OE ca n also be a lifeÂ–long endeavor and occur in the nonÂ–formal sector. People of all ages and from all walks of life can benefit from OE experi ences (Miles, 1987). No one can learn all there is to know about the world around them, so there are unlimited opportunities to enhance outdoor knowledge, skills, and appreciation. Conductin g OE programs for all ages can benefit society as well, since informed and educated voters and citizens can have a more positive impact on social issues involving natura l resources. Origins of Outdoor Education To trace the history of OE from its begi nnings is impossible. Outdoor education has been infused into our lives for as long as humans have inhabited this planet. Early hunterÂ–gatherer cultures around th e world taught their children the knowledge and skills needed for surviving in the natural world around them (Ford, 1986). In its earliest form, OE was a necessity in a world that affect ed human life but was not much affected by humans (Ford, 1986). As a resu lt, the origin of OE cannot be determined by one single event. Some reviews go as far back as Socrates and Plato to find the beginnings of OE, but multiple influences from philosophers, innovative educators, and other special programs have shaped OE as we know it today. Within the field, however, the following four basic developmental periods have sh aped the growth and development of OE.
15 Stage 1: Early Influences on Outdoor Education Using nature as a means of educating st udents is not a new idea. As early as 2500 B.C., Egyptians explored their surrounding wo rld with the goal of learning, earning credit for the first recorded traces of planned outdoor educati on (Priest & Gass, 1997). Greek philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, and Aris totle also used the outdoors in their pursuits of higher education (P riest & Gass, 1997). Millennia later, John Amos Comenius (1592Â–1670) emerged as a strong advocate for sensory learning in his native Czech Re public. He believed that a student should experience an object before reading about it a nd asserted that the use of the senses was the means by which a child should come into co ntact with the natural world. Therefore, to study nature, he argued that children shoul d first come into contact with substances such as water, rocks, fire, ice, flowers, trees, and animals (Hammerman, Hammerman, & Hammerman, 1994). Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712Â–1778) expa nded on ComenuisÂ’ philosophy while working in Switzerland, mainta ining that children should lear n by direct experience. He proclaimed Â“Our first teachers are our feet, our hands, and our eyes. To substitute books for all theseÂ…is but to teach us to use th e reason of othersÂ” (Hammerman, Hammerman, & Hammerman, 1994, p. 241). Rousseau believed that physical activity was of utmost importance in a childÂ’s educa tion and that education itself should be more sensory and less literary and linguistic. Around the sa me time, Johann Pest alozzi (1746Â–1827), a follower of Rousseau, urged teachers to take their students out of the classroom saying, Â“Lead your child out into nature, teach him on the hilltops and in the valleys. There he will listen better, and the sense of freedom will give him more strength to overcome difficulties. But in these hours of freedom let him be taught by nature rather than by you.
16 Let him fully realize that she is the real teacher and that you do nothing more than walk quietly at her side.Â” (Hammerman, Hammerman, & Hammerman, 1994, p. 241). PestalozziÂ’s arguement was based on the belief that learne rs would use these concrete outdoor experiences late r in life to formulate princi ples and draw conclusions on their own. Pestalozzi went beyond RousseauÂ’s philosophy in that he began to base his educational theory on research. He wanted to establish a psychological method of instruction that was in line with the laws of human nature. As a result he placed a special emphasis on spontaneity and selfÂ–activity. He argued that children should not be given readyÂ–made answers but should arrive at answ ers themselves by cultivating their powers of seeing, judging, and reasoning and encourag ing their selfÂ–activity. His aim was to educate the whole child and he proposed that intellectual education is only part of a wider plan. Pestalozzi looked to balance, or keep in equilibrium, three elements: hands, heart and head (Kilpatrick, 1951). The outdoor education movement in the U.S. Until this point, the formal development of OE took place in European countries. It was not until the midÂ–1800s that the concept of OE began to surface in the United States. From this point onward, this discussion of OE in a historical context will be limited to developments in the U.S.. The first iteration of OE in the United States was the nature study movement. JackmanÂ’s Nature Study for the Common Schools (1891) first gave definition to the nature study movement in the U.S. (Rillo, 1983). This movement paralleled the ideas of Rousseau and Pestal ozzi that students should study nature, not books. The nature study movement saw increasing popularity in KÂ–12 schools and nature centers in the 1900s as nature study teaching materi als were made available by Cornell University and persisted until the 1960s.
17 One of the most significant American e ducational philosophers directly impacting the development of OE in the U.S. was John Dewey (1859Â–1952). In The Child and the Curriculum (1902), Dewey advocated that experiences of all kinds should be infused into the school curriculum. As a leader of the progressive education movement, Dewey argued that teachers should know how to us e the studentsÂ’ surroundings in a way that would result in meaningful learning experien ces. Dewey sought to Â“free the learner and the schools from the traditional educational practices of the timeÂ” (Hammerman, Hammerman, & Hammerman, 1994, p. 243). Dewey also believed that if lessons were more closely related to a studentÂ’s everyda y life, a natural and effortless connection would take place between the subject matter areas. All of these early influences on OE set th e stage for expansion of the movement in the United States as educators became more aware of the educational value of outdoor experiences. This early period of awareness was followed by a brief but formative period that focused primarily on camping e ducation and conservation education. Stage 2: Idea Formulation and Camping E ducation in the United States (1930Â–1940) This period is often referred to as the idea stage of OE. Camping education became popular, was discussed often, and written about, but little direct action took place at the formal school level. The KÂ–12 educational syst em was not ready to give up class time for camping trips. There was, however, a gene ral recognition of the educational value inherent in camping experiences among ma ny educators (Hammerman, 1986). In 1935, L.B. Sharp recommended that camping activit ies be made part of the regular school program. Sharp was an advocate of the comm unityÂ–centered school and felt that such a system would best serve student sÂ’ needs (Hammerman, 1986).
18 In December 1938, the entire issue of Phi Delta Kappan was devoted to camping education, providing additional evidence that OE was emerging as a topic of interest in the educational realm. Th e editorial column looked forward to the year 2000 and predicted that future educat ors would Â“in all probabilityÂ…look back upon us and wonder why we, the school people of 1938, failed to in clude the camp as an integral unit of our educational systemÂ” (Sc horling, 1938, editorial). As the idea of camping education bega n to gain acceptance among educators, another variation of OE, termed conserva tion education, was born as farming in the plains of the U.S. was taking its toll on the environment. The Dust Bowl lasted about a decade and its primary area of impact was the so uthern plains of the United States. Poor agricultural practices and years of sustaine d drought caused the Dust Bowl. During years of adequate rainfall, the former grasslands of this region produced bountiful crops, but as the droughts of the early 1930s deepened, fa rmers kept plowing and planting yet nothing grew. The ground cover that originally held the soil in place was gone and the effects were dramatic. In 1935, the National Education Associat ion assumed the leading role for conservation education in public schools as they formulated national and state laws requiring schools to develop conservation edu cation programs. The primary goals of conservation education were tree planting a nd water conservation and the movement has since broadened into an emphasis on natura l resource management. Today conservation education is supported by numerous federal a nd state natural resour ce agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
19 Even during this formative, ideaÂ–lade n period, the eclectic nature of OE was growing. There was a general recognition of the educational benefits of camping and conservation education programs, but the cam ping experience was still viewed as an enrichment of the school experience, rath er than a part of the core curriculum (Hammerman, 1986). As the educational value of camping continued to gain acceptance, and new environmentallyÂ–based conservation education programs were required to be developed, the climate was right for the next stage of OE development in the United States. Stage 3: Experimentation and Standardizat ion of Outdoor Education in the United States (1940Â–1970) The end of the Great Depression and an overall increase in economic stability and leisure time led to a rapid, nearly expl osive expansion of school camping during the 1940s and 1950s. In educational circles, the term camping was replaced with the term outdoor schools, as the trad itional camping stereotype was overshadowed by outdoor lessons and experiences designed to compleme nt the traditional school curriculum. In 1940, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation sponsor ed a national workshop devoted to Â“The Role of Camping in America TodayÂ” and funded the development of a residential community school camp at Clear Lake in Ba ttle Creek, Michigan (Hammerman, 1986). Administered by the Kellogg Foundation, Clear Lake Camp rotated groups of 90 children from grades 5,6, and 7 every two weeks through out the school year. This program also evolved into a teacherÂ–training program specializing in outdoor school curricula. Clear Lake Camp is still in operation today as a part of the Battle Creek Outdoor Education Center. Between 1940 and 1950, residentia l outdoor school programs were also
20 established in the states of California, Georgia, Michig an, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington (Rillo, 1985). The great success of residen tial school camps led to a national conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in 1942 to spread the word about putting children back in touch with nature via a school Â–outÂ–ofÂ–school environment. A 1947 U.S. Office of Education publication stat ed Â“camping can give the tr aditional school program a rejuvenation by taking education into the open whenever the outÂ–ofÂ–doors can make an experience more real and v italÂ…camping can bring about a reÂ–examination of current curriculum practicesÂ” (Hammerman, 1986, p. 6) . With few exceptions, residential outdoor programs for school children expe rienced immediate success and most have continued for many decades. By 1950, a rapid succession of outdoor sc hool programs were launched throughout the United States as a result of the stimulu s provided by the Department of Education. As outdoor programs multiplied, no less than seve n professional journals devoted entire issues to the potential positive impacts th e camping curriculum could have on schools. School camping was now characterized by a cu rriculum that emphasized conservation education, healthful living, so cialization, and democratic living (Hammerman, 1986). Most school camps were operated yearÂ–round and the emphasis began to shift from recreational activities to ward the subject matter taught in th e existing school curriculum. In 1957, with the success of RussiaÂ’s Sput nik spacecraft, a perceived educational crisis arose across the United States. In the name of national defense, the U.S. government increased funding for KÂ–12 public education in support of more programs emphasizing science, mathematics and forei gn language. The nations Â’ schools responded
21 by moving to the conservative end of the ph ilosophical spectrum and, in doing so, also changed many outdoor school camps into more schoolÂ–like academic programs. In general, there was a shift to less recreation and more focused learning of specific science and math content. With this new focus, new terms like Outdoor School, School in the Woods, and Environmental Outdoor Educati on Center evolved. The term Resident Outdoor Education, defined as an extension of schools where childre n are challenged by living together in a temporary ru stic setting for 3 to 5 days, eventually predominated with the realization that outdoor experiences c ould be both fun and e ducational (Donaldson & Donaldson, 1982). The field of OE continued to diversify w ith the establishment of the first U.S. Outward Bound program in Colorado in 1962 and with the establishment of the National Outdoor Leadership School in 1965. Manuals , guides, and handbooks were developed to aid teachers in planning for outdoor school experiences and thes e print materials introduced an element of uniformity and standa rdization to OE. Conf erences specific to the field of OE and workshops for teachers a nd other interested educators spread across the United States and by the end of this peri od, special interest groups within OE were beginning to form. In 1965 the U.S. Elem entary and Secondary Education Act was passed, which specifically mentioned fundi ng opportunities for summer or yearÂ–round school camping. Between 1965 and 1967, over $5 million was spent on federal projects involving OE, the only time in history OE received any specifically mandated funding from the federal government (Hammerman, 19 86). The diversity of program emphases, along with a renewed interest in reside ntial outdoor educa tion made the next developmental stage a crucial peri od in the development of OE.
22 Stage 4: New Directions and Decisions fo r Outdoor Education as Environmental Education Emerged in the U.S. (1970Â–present) Throughout all its stages, OE has basically adhered to the same philosophy, that is, to use the outÂ–ofÂ–doors as a laboratory for learning through the direct experience approach (Rillo, 1983). Descriptively, how ever, American educators have had a smorgasbord of outdoor programs from which to choose, and OEÂ’s sphere of influence expanded as new directions became establis hed in educational practice (Hammerman, 1986). The resulting programs that grew out of these new directions allowed OE to function using numerous terms (such as c onservation education, camping education, and outdoor schools), with a variety of programs available for interested participants. A new field began to emerge, however, that woul d challenge OEÂ’s umbrella encompassing outdoor programming. On April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million peopl e in the United States participated in a national environmental teachÂ–in, comm only known today as Earth Day. It was truly an astonishing grassroots explosion. This ev ent sparked new interest in the environment and ignited a sense of urgency to deal with environmental problems. During this time, words like ecology, energy resource conservatio n, and quality of life became familiar terms. Education began to focus on the ex tended classroom approach. The idea was to break down the four walls of the traditional classroom and extend learning into the community to encompass the total environm ent. Emerging new fields of education resulting from this shift in consciousness included environmental education, adventure education, and challenge education.
23 In some ways, environmental education (EE) became a common thread, bringing together many interests and educational emphases, but in many ways EE is a totally different creature from OE. The pressures of the late 1960s, which we re felt by the leaders in both outdoor education and conservati on education, were caused by an increased public awareness of the problems of air pol lution, water pollution, noise pollution, landscape pollution, overpopulation, and exce ss energy demands. It soon became apparent that it was not possible for edu cators to focus solely on natural resource management and that it was necessar y, when speaking about forest lands, woodlands, and open space, to make referen ce to life in the subur bs and cities. As the environmental problems increased in significance a nd in number, an educational phenomenon began to take plac e. These external pressures in our society forced the philosophical component s of outdoor education and conservation education on a collision course, and Â…there was a mixing and blending which resulted in Â…a new product, a new ph ilosophy, a new approach: environmental education. (Kirk, 1977 in Braus & Disinger, 1998, p. 4) Change came to OE in the 1970s as some educators wanted OE to remain separate and others thought it was the perfect umbre lla for EE (Rillo, 1983). The worldÂ’s first Intergovernmental Conference on Environmen tal Education, organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the United Nations Envir onment Program, was convened in Tbilisi, Georgia (USSR) from October 14 to 26, 1977. Delegates from 66 United Nations Member States and observers from two nonÂ–Member States participated, as did representatives and observers from eight ag encies and programs of the United Nations
24 system, three other intergovernmental organizations and 20 international nongovernmental organizations (Hungerford, Bl uhm, Volk, & Ramsey, 2001). In all, 265 delegates and 65 representatives and observe rs took part in the Tbilisi Conference. Adopted by acclamation at the close of the Intergovernmental Conference, the Tbilisi Declaration adopted three overall goals for environmental education (EE) programs and five categories of environmenta l education objectives. This large scale global program organization was something that never materialized in the field of OE and the sudden surge in the popularity of EE in the U.S. left some outdoor educators wondering what direction to pursue next. In his editorial in the Journal of Outdoor Education entitled Â“Words, Words, WordsÂ” Julian W. Smith stat ed Â“some of us thought and hoped that the dilemma of words, words, words would not happen to out door education and the related concerns of conservation and outdoor recreation, but at a single conference these days, one might hear the terms outdoor edu cation, conservation educati on, environmental education, resourceÂ–use education, nature education, camping education, outdoor recreation, and othersÂ” (Rillo, 1983, p. 10). Smith was concer ned about the various terms because those outside the OE field were easily confused by the numerous terms, and he also believed that OE was a simple idea best left uncomplicated by vague language. In 1980, Howenstine called for a return to th e basics of OE. He wrote, Â“the term environmental education is ofte n used now instead of outdoor education but it is too often a new name for the same old thingÂ” (p. 21). Howenstine went on to support the idea of letting EE focus on its goal of behavior ch ange and letting OE focus on its outÂ–ofÂ–doors philosophy with each unique OE program focusing on its individual program goal,
25 whatever that might be. The field of OE th rived on this simple philosophical principle and the leaders in OE wished it to remain that way, avoiding the complex program goals and objectives used in EE. Instead of trying to define a mountain, there is much to be said for letting the mountains speak for th emselves (James, 1995). This participantÂ– focused, openÂ–ended approach continued to guide participation in most outdoor education activities. Both OE and EE focus on examining human beliefs about ourselves and the world, using the lens of the entire cultural system to view each individualÂ’s environment (Rillo, 1983). The continued overlap of OE and EE pr ograms remains an issue for debate. The establishment of the Associat ion for Experiential Education in 1976 helped OE maintain its purpose of education about, in, and for th e outdoors. With the ongoing diversification of outdoor education programs, it remains extrem ely difficult to determine which types of outdoor education programs and methods are the most effective for which types of participants and for which types of outcomes. Addressing this issue via research studies has become a defining factor distinguishing OE and other educati on program models due to the lack of OEÂ’s researchÂ–based progr am evaluation track record. The following section outlines the OE research tradition in the United States from the 1930s to the present. The Research Tradition in U.S. Outdoor Education In the past, the field of OE has used a nd developed theory in rather impromptu ways. Outdoor education programs are ge nerally constructed according to theories imported from psychology or general educa tion (Neill, 2002; Neill & Richards, 1998). This is a reflection of the lack of developm ent of a specific outdoor education theory. While some initial theories have been pr oposed, none of them have been pursued,
26 researched, and developed over a signifi cant period of time (Neill, 2003). Some researchers argue that the lack of dependence on theory gives OE programs and instructors the freedom to experiment and e xplore, rather than constraining them to follow theoretical prescriptions (Neill, 2003; Neill & Richards, 1998). Other researchers claim that systematically proving the validity of OE programs is necessary to enable programs to continue (Allison & Pomeroy, 2000). Interestingly, research studies in OE have evolved along with the field of OE but with much less success than the programs themselves. A review of OE existing literatur e yielded six fairly distinct research eras within the field. Era 1: The Formative Era in Outdoor E ducation Research in the U.S. (1930Â–1940) As early as the 1930s, outdoor educators real ized the need for research to further their camping program lifespans. During this fo rmative era in OE, however, the literature was dominated by opinion pieces that were not empirically tested in any systematic way. The major position pieces and proposals that emer ged from this era are presented in this section. Dimock and Hendry (1929) wrote, Â“it can no longer be confidently assumed that the camp experience inevitably produced desira ble results in the development of boys and girls. The summer camp ma y provide a situation which is immensely potent in desirable outcomes but that is no proof that the leanings which actually do resu lt approximate these possibilitiesÂ…if the summer camp is to be a significant factor in pr ogressive education, it is essential that its purposes be carefully re Â–examined and its objectives formulated more definitely and specificallyÂ”(p. 15). These res earchers stressed the need for evaluation and proposed instruments designed to assess skills , values, and social attitudes. These
27 researchers also suggested that findings shoul d be presented in a more descriptive manner using percentages and raw scores. In 1930, L.B. Sharp published Education and the Summer Camp Experiment , which is often recognized as one of the ear liest and most signifi cant writings in OE. Sharp established camp standards, objectiv es, philosophies, and recommendations which are still in use today by many camps. Shar p asserted that while attending camp, a child should have the chance to learn about heal th by taking care of his/her food, learning about natural food and natural materials, havi ng a chance to do whatever they want to do within the programs offered, lear ning social skills, working with others, and helping in group projects. His major objective was to promote health, happine ss, and citizenship. Following SharpÂ’s landmark publication, the literature continued to raise more questions than generate answers. Heinlen (1934) reviewed the e ducational values of summer camp and questioned if camps were c oncerned more with the adults goals or those of the camp participants. She conclude d that objectives and philosophies should be written and evaluated if a cam p was to have any educationa l value. Vredevoogd (1936) described an Â“idealÂ” school camp in which students were presented a range of problems and required to solve them in various situ ations. This outdoor school camp offered an array of subjects and students were invol ved in camp budgeting, food menus, and cabin building. Kilpatrick (1942) wrote an article focusing on the importance of action, involvement, and participation in learning. He wrote, Â“before a thi ng can be learned, it has to be lived. If it has a feeling, I canÂ’t learn it until I have felt it. If it is a thought I must think it. All learning is not the sameÂ… each one learns what he himself perceivesÂ” (p. 46). This era in OE highlighted the fact that school camps had the potential to
28 become a place for action and involvement, a place apart from school and the traditional learning techniques. The lack of research studies and abundance of research ideas is a landmark weakness in the field of OE, however and has played a formative role in the overall lack of research in the field of OE since then. Era 2: Attitude Measurement Era in U.S. Outdoor Education (1940Â–1950) By the late 1940s, the conservation edu cation movement was in full swing and studies tended to focus on measuring attitude s toward conservation. Wievel (1947) used a LikertÂ–type scale to measure 500 high school studentsÂ’ attitudes toward conservation after their participation in an OE program. Results indicated that the size of the school enrollment affected types of attitudes. Identified high schools with large enrollments (more than 500 students) reported less positiv e attitudes towards conservation at the conclusion of the OE program, while high schools with smaller enrollments (less than 500 students) had more positive conservation attitudes at the conclusion of the OE program. Wievel also reported that boys had more favorable conservation attitudes than girls and that seniors had mo re positive attitudes towards conservation than freshmen. Variables such as place of re sidence, types of school c ourses taken, participation in conservation activities, listening to the radio, and movie attend ance did not seem to affect student conservation attitudes. Olsen (1950) used a preÂ–post test survey design with 50 fift h-and sixth-grade school camp participants and concluded that so me needs of students were not being met in traditional school classrooms but were being met in the school camp setting. Specifically, she concentrated on the social na ture of OE and found that 50% of students who had social difficulties in the school cl assroom did not have problems finding a peer
29 group in the OE setting. She used these results to conclude that natural resources and students can be brought together in a camp setting for the good of all students. In 1953, Bozarth designed a study to determin e the effects of a public school camp based on four research questions: Do parents and students consider camp ing as education or recreational? Does camping add or detract from traditional school subjects? Does camp help to devel op better personalities? Does camp promote social growth? Bozarth used personality tests, questionnair es, anecdotal records, and sociograms to collect data from 50 sixth grade male and fema le participants and th eir parents. Results showed that school camping increased childre nÂ’s interest in school work and tended to promote new friendships and group cohesiveness. Parents also reported that they regarded school camp as being educational and recreational. Fi nally, Bozarth reported that subject specific postÂ–test scores were higher than preÂ–test scores. Era 3: The ObjectivesÂ–Based Outcomes Era in U.S. Outdoor Education (1960Â–1970) Outdoor education research in the po stÂ–Sputnik era (after 1957) focused on identifying more specific quantifiable result s and school administrators were asking for more specific program objectives from thos e attempting to conduct school camp or OE research. The field of OE was quickly re alizing the need to enter the realm of standardizing testing that was now widely embraced by the formal KÂ–12 educational system if programs were to maintain their mainstream acceptance in a rapidly developing standardizedÂ–focused society. Olbricht (1958) conducted a study to determ ine the effectiveness of an OE program on character development and attitude cha nge in 100 camp participants aged 7Â–15. He surveyed studentsÂ’ attitudes toward self, attitudes toward morals, attitudes toward
30 Christian teaching, and attitudes toward Chri stian living. The students responded to 10 yes or no questions on a pre and postÂ–test. Ba sed on his results, Olbr icht concluded that the OE camp had a noticeable positive impact on almost all campers, but that campers over the age of 11 showed a more positiv e change than did younger campers. Stack (1960) conducted a study to measure th e conservation attit udes of 50 fifthgrade and 50-sixth grade students who particip ated in a weekÂ–long OE camp experience. Pre and postÂ–test comparisons showed no si gnificant change in positive conservation attitudes and some students even regressed in their attitudes. However, Stack labeled the results inconclusive without di scussion of the possible causes for the lack of significant change. The most significant study conducted duri ng this period was al so the first known OE study to integrate theory into the study design. Doty (1960) was interested in defining and evaluating character development as a result of OE experiences, specifically using the research question Â“Can we find evidence that one camper has grown in character as a result of someth ing we did intentionally to br ing it about?Â” (p. vii). Doty relied on character development theory as we ll as learning theory related to character change. He believed that in order to change character, one must understand the underlying learning theory related to character development. Doty developed a set of OE program activities designed to influence character development appropriate for each grade level (first to eighth) and presented a systematic way of designing a program to influence attitudes. Evaluations were c onducted using direct observations, counselor ratings, pre and postÂ–interest inventories, sociograms, and situational response scales. Results indicated that attitude s could be taught and measured in an OE setting, and that
31 rating scales and tests could be devised to m easure character and attitude change. Doty also concluded that objectives could be e ffectively used to determine program content and that OE school camps were an ideal place for applied research. HardyÂ’s research monographs (1961, 1963) a pplied DotyÂ’s methods in a different OE school camp situation. Working with 100 sc hoolÂ–aged participants, Hardy wanted to find out if conservation attit udes could be learned at camp, determine the direction and degree of the attitude change , and critically review the research methodology used in such studies. Data were collected and anal yzed from observationa l reports, critical incident records, socioÂ–metric instrument scales, and counselor and parent reports. Results indicated that attitude development was possible and could be measured, and that the methodology of the project was sound. Speci fically, at the conclusion of the camp, Hardy found that participants from high so cioÂ–economic backgrounds had more positive attitudes toward conservation and the out doors than students from the low socioÂ– economic backgrounds. In addition to his res earch findings, Hardy reported that camp participants in the low so cioÂ–economic group made greate r progress making friends and being labeled dependable which led him to sp eculate that peer acceptance had a minimal, if any, relationship to attitudinal grow th in this OE school camp situation. Era 4: The Outcomes Era in U.S. Outdoor Education (1960Â–1970) Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, OE research continued to focus on attitude change and development, but also began to measure specific learning outcomes for traditional school subjects being taught outside the classr oom. During this period, social outcomes of OE programs, specifically those focusing on social relationships and selfÂ–concept of participants were also measur ed. Research in this area focused on school subject learning outcomes and social learning outcomes.
32 School subject Â– learning outcomes Clark (1965) conducted research with a fi fth grade class involved in an OE program that taught math, reading, and spelli ng. The study lasted 18 weeks with a total of 55 students, half in the experimental gr oup and half in the c ontrol group. A math, spelling, and reading achievement test was ad ministered four times during the study to determine whether or not the groups differed. No significant gains were made with the experimental OE group and Clark concluded that the specific standard ized tests were not satisfactory for measuring gains in OE. Hoeksema (1964) studied two sixth grad e classes over a 9Â–week grading period (one control and one experimental OE class) to determine the effects of OE classes on math achievement. He used a math achieve ment pre and postÂ–test test and found that both groups showed significant gains in reas oning and computation skills but the OE group scored significantly highe r in computation skills. George (1966) developed a Likert scale to measure attitudes and content gains of students who took classes where conservation e ducation was the topic. The final revised preÂ–and postÂ–test scale was administered to three distinct groups: 50 high school students, 75 college students, and 50 adults. He concluded that conten t gained as well as attitudes toward conservation grew more posit ive with age. George found no significant difference between high school aged boys and girls in regard to their positive attitudes or content knowledge and found no significant di fference between adult men and women in terms of content knowledge. He did find a significant difference between college freshmen and seniors in terms of positive atti tude but no significance in terms of content gained. He also reported that individua l experience with summer camping, scouting,
33 conservation clubs, nature camps, and hiking cl ubs affected an individualÂ’s score in a positive direction. Social Â– learning outcomes Davidson (1965) measured 60 fifth and sixth gradersÂ’ changes in selfÂ–concept after they attended either a childÂ–centered OE camp (the traditional camp setting without attendance of parents or ot her adults containing activiti es designed especially for children) or an adultÂ–centere d OE camp (a camp setting wh ere parents and other adults were present, and activities were designed for adults with special modifications made for child participation). Significant gains were reported from the children who attended both camps in both selfÂ–concept as well as social relationships. Davidson concluded that these positive gains in selfÂ–concept and social relationships occurred regardless of camp philosophy or curriculum. Duke (1968) focused his selfÂ–concept st udy on 100 fourth through seventh grade students attending an OE camp for one week. Both control and OE group scores did significantly change on a postÂ–test of positive selfÂ–concept, and differences between the two treatment groups were not significant. D uke concluded that a oneÂ–week OE program was not long enough to expect measurable amoun ts of change to occu r in selfÂ–concept. Johnston (1969) developed a scale to determ ine if selfÂ–concept and social values changed as a result of a summerÂ–long reside ntial OE camp experience. Three camps were studied with 150 students ranging in age from 10Â–12 years. It was determined that social values were higher at the beginning of the camp than at the end of camp and that older campers did not score as high on the instrument consisti ng of 35 attitude statements as did younger campers. Campers with previ ous experience had lower postÂ–test scores
34 than those with no previous camping expe rience and shortÂ–term camping produced higher postÂ–test scores than longÂ–term camping. Era 5: Era of Redefinition of Resea rch in U.S. Outdoor Education (1970Â–1980) In the 1970s, OE research regressed back to the opinion and idea pieces of the 1930s as the OE community wrestled with its identity within th e larger research community. The Journal of Outdoor Education, once a quarterly publication, was reduced to an annual journal. Outdoor educ ation researchers had a decision to make. As Mason wrote, Â“on the one hand, the issue is the drift of our programs toward standardization, conformity, a nd routine methods and procedur es as in other educational fields; on the other it is the pr oblem of leadership, of challe nging and sustaining teachers who are faced with the same survival needs, living and working in a highly standardized societyÂ” (1981, p. 18). Outdoor educators a nd researchers alike struggled with Â“not wanting to be identified with the playÂ–w orld connotations of school camping and certainly not waiting to be associated with what William Hornaday accused nature study of being 70 years ago, Â‘an utterly sinful waste of school time.Â’ Residential outdoor education has tended to argue its case with specific objectives related to individual student competenciesÂ” (Mason, 1981, p. 20). Between 1970 and 1980, the OE research that was conducted came from universities that had OE facilities affiliated with them (Northern Illinois University and Indiana University) or private OE programs (Outward Bound and Proj ect Adventure) and the research results were not published for the general resear ch community (Neill, 2002). However, in 1980 the Association of Experi ential Education was formed and provided a new outlet for OE research. Still dealing with a type of identity cr isis, outdoor educators and researchers again looked at revising or standardizing program objectives to promote
35 OE as a beneficial and integral compone nt in schools (Neill, 2002). Eventually, a conceptualization of the pur poses of OE programs was developed by Priest and Gass (1997). They proposed a hierarc hy of four types of programs: RecreationalÂ– aims to change the way pe ople feel; the purpose is leisure, fun and enjoyment. EducationalÂ– aims to change the way peopl e feel and think; the purpose is to learn skills and/or information. DevelopmentalÂ– aims to change the way people feel, think and behave; the purpose is to undergo personal growth. Therapeutic/redirectionÂ– aims to cha nge the way people feel, think, behave. While this hierarchy was wellÂ–received in the OE community, it has still not led to the level of program standardization seen in adventure, challenge or environmental education programs. However, it has given OE research a new surge, similar to the back to the basics movement that was present in the 1930s. Even with this new surge, however, published research has primarily b een limited to university conferences and workshops, making retrieval of this information extremely difficult. No Child Left Inside: Outdoor Education Today A new initiative surfacing with in the outdoor education community is being called No Child Left Inside (National Press Club, 2006). This initiative is de signed to reconnect youngsters with the outdoors and put outdoor education back in the spotlight. This has left researchers and practitioners struggling to showcase OEÂ’s unique program outcomes. Until this point, OE research usually focuse d on a single research question: Does it (the program being studied) work ? (Allison & Pomeroy, 2000). Ew ert (1989) critiqued this standard research question sayi ng that, within the individual program participant, it Â“does
36 not answer why it happened or how it happene dÂ” (p. 5). In the field of OE, programs have assumed that Â“somethingÂ” positive is happe ning inside each participant as a result of program participation, but few studies have actu ally determined what that Â“somethingÂ” is (HaluzaÂ–Delay, 1999). Looking Backward, Looking Forward Mason (1981) called previous OE study re sults Â“not satisfyingÂ” (p. 20) because there was no measurement of outcomes that Â“lie beyond the camp experience itselfÂ” (p. 20). He identified several examples of these potential positive outcomes such as improved reading, math, and social skills, as well as more positive environmental attitudes, increased understanding of ecologi cal principles, and acquisition of skills for making responsible environmental choices. Mason posed these ideas after he facilitated an OE program with teens and engaged in conversations with part icipants during a surveyÂ–base d program evaluation. He reported that he Â“found a richness and meani ng to the program that our evaluation of outcomes couldnÂ’t touchÂ” (Mason, 1981, p. 20). When asked to describe their OE experience in a word or phrase, participan ts responded with terms such as Â“great, exciting, freedom, relaxation, joy, nature, f un, trust, outdoors, quiet, spaceÂ” (Mason, 1981, p. 21). Mason reported these findings a nd commented that although none of these responses were tied to the traditional quantifiable assessments used in program evaluation, they did Â“offer hints of the divers e personal meaning that these studies seem to bear for participantsÂ” (1981, p. 21). Ultimately, Mason called for more OE research that was focused on investigating individual participant experiences since st udies and evaluations of overall program outcomes Â“have tended not to come up with any earthÂ–shattering conclusionsÂ” (1981, p.
37 20). More importantly, he argued, Â“the concern with outcomes has overlooked the unique nature and quality of the outdoor e ducation camp experience itselfÂ” (Mason, 1981, p. 20). With funding and standardization pressu res mounting, outcomeÂ–based research still continues in OE. The research conducted thus far does support the contention that OE effectively facilitates cognitive improvement in learning environmental content (Gillet, Thomas, Skok, & McLaughlin, 1991; Purdue & Warder, 1981). However in addition to outcomeÂ–based OE research, outdoor educators a nd researchers are now realizing that the interdisciplinary fieldÂ–studies approach they have traditionally emphasized has not been as influential in achieving longÂ–term e nvironmental objectives as initially hoped (Gigliotti, 1990). As a result, in recent years, a small nu mber of studies have been conducted that involve participan ts more directly in the rese arch process and the reported results suggest that the meanings participan ts make of their OE experiences and the values they derive from them exceed those th at are conventionally identified in surveyÂ– based, outcomeÂ–focused research (Davidson, 2001). A 1999 study conducted by HaluzaÂ–Delay examined experiences of nature among eight adolescents during a 12Â–day backpack ing trip. HaluzaÂ–Delay accompanied the participants on the entire trip, took extensive field not e observations, and conducted formal and informal interviews with the pa rticipants throughout the 12 days. He then conducted two sets of followÂ–up interviews two weeks after the trip, and then again four to six months after the trip. HaluzaÂ–Delay found that as th e trip went on, participants focused more on the social nature of the group and the experience of the natural setting declined in its importance. As this occurr ed, he noted less solo time, less journaling, and
38 less individual exploring beha vior. In later followÂ–up in terviews, the participants reported that the trip generated feelings of goodwill toward nature but no significant increase in environmentally responsible behaviors was documented for any of the participants. One common concern expressed by the partic ipants was that the wilderness area in which their trip was conducted should remain untouched. Another common theme reported by all participants wa s that Â“nature doesnÂ’t really have much to do with me nowÂ” (HaluzaÂ–Delay 1999, p.134). The overall r ecommendation from this study was that outdoor educators should consciously plan for transfer of environmental awareness from the natural outdoor program to the more developed home setting because participants Â“reentering the larger society will need all the strength, commitment, and perseverance thatÂ…programs seek to develop in order to swim against the current of a society that undervalues environmentally sustainabl e lifestylesÂ” (HaluzaÂ–Delay, 1999, p. 136). HaluzaÂ–Delay went a step further and in 2001 published further findings from the backpacking trip study, which more specifically highlighted participan t understandings of the outdoor experience. During the postÂ–program interviews conducted six months later, HaluzaÂ–Delay tried to determine how particip ants constructed thei r individual views of nature and how these views infl uenced proÂ–environmental actions in their everyday lives. ParticipantsÂ’ constructions of nature fell into two categories: the qualities of nature and the feeling of nature. Qualities of nature were usually describe d as what was absent, such as, without people, not humanÂ–made, and u ndisturbed. Feelings of nature were very affective and centered around the idea that nature was out th ere and not at home. The concept of nature was most often defined in comparison to human civilization, as being
39 undisturbed, without humanÂ–made items, and abse nt in the home environment. The teens thought Â“that the home environment was already wrecked, so why bother with environmental concernÂ” (HaluzaÂ–Delay, 2001, p. 47). This study enabled the researcher to view participantsÂ’ individual constructions of nature, underscoring the importance of indivi dual interpretations within a program and how these underlying constructions must be addressed for a proÂ–environmental lifestyle change to occur. HaluzaÂ–Delay suggested that Â“If nature is out there and we humans are separated from it (as these program participants suggest) then nature has little meaning in everyday life. This mindset may indeed be the fundamental environmental problemÂ” (2001, p.48). Davidson (2001) explored subjective per ceptions of 10 boys, ages 17Â–19, enrolled in a yearÂ–long OE program. He wanted to determine the ways in which the students made meaning from their OE experiences . Davidson traveled and observed the participants for six weeks, sometimes part icipating with the group; but mostly he remained a silent observer. After six weeks of observations, Davidson conducted inÂ– depth interviews with four of the par ticipants who were chosen to include a representation of motiva tion and ability levels and cultural backgrounds. The themes discussed in the interviews focused on their background, the reasons they enjoyed or did not enjoy OE, their att itudes toward what they were learning, their feelings about the importance of this learning, their ideas about nature , and their plans for the future. The themes that emerged re lated to the ongoing enjoyment of overcoming challenges, building confidence and mental stre ngth, and the freedom to choose. All of the participants related challenge to their co ntinued learning and the role that it plays in
40 life. Â“Life would be dul l without them [challenges]. Just get nowhere. You learn the most out of doing a challenge. You donÂ’t learn anythi ng if you just sit in a class. If you do something you learn something. (Joe)Â” (Dav idson, 2001, p. 16). Motivation levels also seemed to be positively affected by the OE program as well as positive attitudes toward the outdoors and motivation. Although this study did not have a control group, Davidson reported that participants Â“clea rly perceived themselves to di ffer in critical ways from those who did not take out door educationÂ” (2001, p. 19). Davidson concluded by writing that the Â“v alue and meaning of outdoor education cannot fully be measured by outcomes or scor es increased. Outdoor educators may find it difficult to feel that they are getting a nywhere. However learning comes by degrees, as the gradual accumulation of experience helps to shift perceptions and change previous behaviors and assumptions. The benefits of this may not surface until the moment is rightÂ–which is not necessarily when the rese archers are around with measuring rods or when the teacher is taking noteÂ” (2001, p. 19). Gass, Garvey, and Sugerman (2003) inve stigated an OE firstÂ–year student orientation program in two distinctly novel wa ys. First, they interviewed participants, ages 17Â–19, at one year, three and a half year s, and 17 years after the completion of the program. Second, they gathered their data from a Â“previously unÂ–accessed source of informationÂ…participantsÂ’ perspectives 17 years following their involvement in a university orientation programÂ” (Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003, p. 35). The oneÂ–year and threeÂ–andÂ–aÂ–half year interviews were primarily used to investigate retention rates a nd grade point averages as compared with other students using a standardized inventory scale. At the 17Â–year point, however, the original
41 researcher who completed the initial field observations during the program interviewed 16 randomly selected program participants a bout their experiences in the orientation program. An openÂ–ended interview technique was used, and the participants were allowed to move in the direc tion their recollections took them . It was reported that Â“this interview format proved effective, allowing part icipants to move in the direction of their choiceÂ…also allowing him [the researcher] to change the in terview format and direction to meet the needs of the participant, thus improving the ultimate validity of the data gathering processÂ” (Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003, p. 36). The participants, although in terviewed separately, produ ced three broad categories of themes and experiences: ch allenging assumptions of self and others, peer friendships as a support network, and longÂ–term positive e ffects of the program. Reflections on the OE program provided comments such as, Â“At th at instant I knew this wasnÂ’t what I wanted and knew I wanted things to be different,Â” and Â“As I look back on this program I saw this as a pivotal point in my life. It wasnÂ’t as if one experience changed my life, but it led me to veer away from what I saw as my future to a path toward something else. The program wasnÂ’t totally responsible for getting me where I am today, but it was the first step in the trajectory away from where I was going to where I wanted to beÂ” (Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003, p. 37Â–38). Researchers reported that while different, the comments were consistently positive as they spoke about the OE program. They al so stressed Â“the narra tive recollections were rich representations of how participants inte rpreted their experienceÂ” (p. 38) as evidenced by the vivid and accurate memories of thei r experiences and the reported longÂ–term, lasting influences on their lives. Reflect ive comments included the temperature of the
42 day, the color of the sky, the feelings they had, and other individuall y relevant elements of their experiences. Finally, researchers rev ealed that very little of the participantsÂ’ narrative in the 17-year study revolved ar ound discussing actual outdoor experiences, although the outÂ–ofÂ–doors was present in at least one memory from each study participant. Most importan tly, the researchers wrote that this study indi cates that a carefully designed OE program focused on ma ximizing participantsÂ’ connections with each other as well as with the environment can have a powerful positive impact on participantsÂ’ lives. To date, very few OE studies have fo cused on research that is not based on programÂ–directed evaluations. Those researchers that have undertaken the participantÂ– led research challenge have been rewarded with rich data sets, results that are not normally collected on surveys, and promisi ng future directions for their studies. Early Childhood Experiences in the Outdoors (ages preÂ–K to 10) Children have become a major focus of many OE programs. The development of environmentally sensitive attit udes in youth is seen as importa nt to behavior later in life (Dresner & Gill, 1994). Attitude change occurs most readily in the younger years, and more solid attitude structures are formed by the end of high school (Dresner & Gill, 1994). At this time the attitude s solidify and become much less amenable to change. Therefore, early life experiences in the outdoors are important for development of positive feelings, behaviors, and at titudes toward the environment. When people explain sources of their pos itive environmental behavior, how much credit do they give to childhood learning? In 1980, Tanner sought answers to these questions by initiating the study of significan t life experiences which he defined as the formative influences remembered by peopl e whose lives demons trate environmental
43 concern. Tanner reasoned that if educators understood the ty pe of experiences that motivate responsible environmental behavior, they would be better able to foster the development of an informed and active citizenry. TannerÂ’s (1980) research has shown that st udy participants cons istently attribute their environmental interests or action to si milar sources: extended time spent outdoors in natural areas, often in childhood; parents or other family me mbers; teachers or classes; involvement in environmental organizations ; books; and the loss or degradation of a valued place. Interestingly, Tanner also f ound that participants usually began their description of events by describing how, as children, they developed habits and predispositions, which determined how they responded to later envi ronmentally related events. New opportunities allowed them to de velop new skills and beliefs, which sent them off in yet new directions, which furthe red their positive envir onmental interests or actions. In TannerÂ’s study, most people describe d childhood as the foundation of their relationship with the environment but added late r formative circumstances as well. In this study, childhood dominated in im portance both in terms of the number of types of formative experiences with which it was asso ciated and its frequency of mention. Only three of TannerÂ’s respondents did not begin their explanations of their commitment with childhood. Support for environmental education at the early childhood level is based on two major ideas: one relating to conservation of th e natural world and the other relating to the development of the child (Wilson, 1996). The fi rst idea is that unle ss children develop a sense of respect and caring for the natural e nvironment during their ear ly years, they are
44 at risk for never developing such attit udes later in life (S tapp, 1978; Tilbury, 1994; Wilson, 1992). Tilbury (1994) indicated that the importance of the early learning years has been greatly underestimated and that thes e years "can prove to be critical for the environmental education of the child" (p. 11) . Her position is based on the idea that the early learning years represent an essential period for formation of positive environmental attitudes. This position is supported by Stapp (1978), who contended that environmental attitudes developed early in life are difficult to alter. If children de velop negative attitudes toward the environment during their early y ears, such attitudes are likely to become deeply entrenched. Critical periods are times in which, if suff icient stimulus is not provided, children are at risk for never achieving their potent ial in certain areas of development (Wilson, 1996). The existence of such periods is well established and suggest s that "environmental experience in the critical phase of the ear ly learning years can determine subsequent development in environmental e ducation" (Tilbury, 1994, p. 11). Early experiences in the outdoors are also strongly supported by the idea that young children need nature and that healthy child development depends on healthy interactions with the natural environment (Wilson, 1996). C obb (1977) suggested that the human need for understanding the natural world is as importa nt as the basic needs humans share with other animals (i.e., food, air, water, shelte r). Knowledge of other living creatures, Cobb noted, is an innate aspect of an individual's identity. In Cobb's words, "Every child . . . must integrate a world image with body image in order to know where and who he is" (p. 17). Sebba (1991) concluded that "the child has a unique affinity to the environment which is connected to his/her development" (p. 411). Cobb (1977) referred to the natural
45 world as the source of creativity and imagina tion, and Rachel Cars on (1956) expressed a similar concept in her book, The Sense of Wonder . Musser and Diamond (1999) found that children learn from direct experience and from observations of others. An environmental attitude survey was administered to 42 preschool children. Their parent s (34 mothers, 30 fathers) completed two environmental attitude scales, an enviro nmental knowledge scale, a nd a questionnaire concerning environmentallyÂ–related home practices. Re sults showed that the children's attitudes were not correlated with verb al ability, but were correlate d with the degree to which children participated in environmentally releva nt activities in the home. Specifically, they reported that participation with their parents in such activit ies as recycling and organic gardening provided children with the opport unity for observation as well as direct experience In a study of 72 sixth-grade students w ho participated in a weekÂ–long camping program, Eagles and Demare (1999) reporte d that positive attitudes toward the environment correlated with talking about the environment at home, watching nature films, reading about the environment, and other previous outdoor experiences. Participants were chosen because they had not participated in the environmental program previously. Results suggest th at the students entered the camp program with moderate levels of positive environmental attitudes, derived from several influences, including family, media, and previous schoolÂ–based environmental outdoor education programs. More recently, SmithÂ–Sebasto and Semrau (2004) surveyed 541 sixthÂ–grade students who participated in a four-day c onservation education program. Researchers wanted to find out if participating in a conservation education program changed the
46 attitudes of participants towa rds the environment. Results indicate there was a significant knowledge gain and participan tsÂ’ environmental sensitivit y increased at the program conclusion. However, the program was ine ffective in improving studentsÂ’ attitudes toward the environment. In 2005, SmithÂ–Sebasto and Walker pr oposed a grounded theory regarding effective residential environmental educati on programs. The authors explored student perceptions of the residentia l environmental education program at the New Jersey School of Conservation. The authors administered a 3Â–item instrument to 2,779 fifth through eighth grade students from 31 schools. A grounde d theory approach was used to discover which areas of the program were most meani ngful, most confusing, and most interesting to the students. At the conclusion of th e program, students responded that the most meaningful aspects of their experience were social, personal, a nd wilderness survival sessions. They thought orienteer ing and environmental scien ce sessions were confusing. Based on their findings, the authors proposed a grounded theory that effective residential EE: ensures that students' safety and social wellÂ–being needs are met before engaging them in scientific or even recreational sessions is more successful when the program is presented based on a learnerÂ–centered model of content and skills selection and delivery and not an educatorÂ–driven, topÂ– down approach recognizes that students are often re ceptive to learning more about an environmental issue or problem they fi nd confusing or developing a skill they initially find challenging. This study also found that the more abstra ct concepts of conservation and natural processes were much less relevant to the st udents than sessions that focused on their
47 immediate physical or emotional wellÂ–being. Maslow (1954) theorized that all humans have basic physical and emotional needs that must be met. The five basic needs are physiological safety belongingness and love esteem selfÂ–actualization Needs at one level must be met before a pers on can deal with needs at the next level. Growth forces create upward movement in the hierarchy, whereas regressive forces can push needs further down the hierarchy. The st udents in this study found it important to fulfill the three basic needs before concer ning themselves with desires to know and understand a cognitive need. Due to the re lative importance of social and personal interactions reflected in these data, the au thors suggested using Maslow's three needs (belongingness and love, esteem, and selfÂ–actualization) as a wa y to create an atmosphere of teamwork and encouragement in a period of individual or group flux. The authors also pointed out that just as studies of indivi dual components of an ecosystem may not help illuminate the nature of the ecosystem as a w hole, research that seeks to quantify learning disconnected from the circumstances of that learning may not contribute to the advancement of theory or practice. Finally, in February of 2006, Englan dÂ’s nonÂ–profit organization, The National Trust released a study highlighting the longÂ–t erm impact of sustained relationships between schools and local outdoorÂ–based education programs. Peacock interviewed 108 past participants from eight di fferent schools, all of whom ha d participated in an outdoorÂ– based education program. The participants had been a part of the program in elementary school and were now in middle or high sc hool. The study reported that there was a positive impact on attitudes, especially the ownership of local areas. Students developed
48 social skills, research skills, and craft skills and they felt the biggest impact was on social skills such as selfÂ–esteem, confidence buildi ng, personality development, selfÂ–direction, teamwork, working with adults, and community spirit. The study also reported a positive impact on knowledge and understanding. The impact on studentsÂ’ knowledge was related mainly to wildlife, f ood and nutrition, citizenship, and environmental architecture. Most of the factual learning appeared to be ve ry contextÂ–dependent, linked to the specific site they had visited, and stude nts were unable to generalize concepts to a larger world view. Peacock also presented evidence of the impact of the outdoor education experience on enjoyment, inspiration and creativit y. There was a unanimous view among the students that work was fun, exciting, enjoya ble, better than school, and the staff were much better to learn from than teachers. Adolescents and the Outdoors (ages 11Â–15) Cultural trends such as single parent households or dual wo rking couples have resulted in less parental i nvolvement with their adolescen t children (Kaplan & Kaplan, 2002). Increasingly, young people have turned to their peers for social and emotional support (Schulenberg & Ebata, 1994, Kaplan & Kaplan, 2002). Adolescents and their social world have been described by Hersch (1998) as a secret community within community: The adolescent community is a creation by defaultÂ…More than a group of peers, it becomes in isolation a society with its own values, ethics, worldview, rites of passage, worries, joy, and momentum. It b ecomes teacher, advisor, entertainer, challenger, nurturer, inspirer, a nd sometimes destroyer. (p. 21)
49 Kaplan and Kaplan (2002) identified a seri es of needs that are important to this adolescent community: peer interaction, selfÂ–determination, and the acquiring and displaying of competence and skill. Peer soci alization is the first and foremost priority, coupled with personal freedom. These factor s have also been identified by Reiss, Neiderhiser, Hetherington, and Plomin (2000) . Socialization by definition is a process whereby a host of abilities and skills that a llow for successful integration into a culture are learned. Ideally, a social learning setti ng should allow for a high degree of personal autonomy that encourages or even forces th e making of choices for oneÂ’s self (Harris, 2000). Harris (1995, 2000) suggested that social ization is contextÂ–sp ecific and that peerÂ– driven socialization is the more dominant fo rce in adolescent beha vior modification than what is learned from association with pare nts in the home environment. HarrisÂ’ group socialization theory maintains that pe rsonality development is contingent upon identifying with, and becoming a member of, a so cial group to the exte nt that Â“the shared environment leaves permanent marks on children in the environment they share with their peersÂ” (p. 483). Hartup (1983) found that attitudes toward self and peers are more positive as a result of cooperative experiences versus comp etitive experiences. Th e social setting of a residential outdoor education program allows for individual expression in a socially diverse peer group where the new experien ces are the common components. The program in this way becomes its own culture composed of a divers e population of peers outside the typical realm of adult parental influences. Shaw, Caldwell, and Kleiber (1995) suggested that well meaning members of the adult culture ofte n interfere with the normative development of adolescent autonomy and that outdoor programs may be able
50 to counteract that interference. Owens ( 1994) found that teenagersÂ’ preferences for particular outdoor places ranked parks or spor ts fields first, followed by backyards and commercial areas. His research found that teens all visit these places with friends or they visit with the intention of meeting a friend there. In a metaÂ–analysis of studies on adol escent preference for place, Kaplan and Kaplan (2002) found that teens exhibit a lower preference for na tural areas than adults or children. They interpreted these findings as a Â“time out periodÂ” that takes place during those years when peer socializa tion is a primary motivator of interest. It is during this time that adolescent needs associated with development and maturation through socialization take first priority and often, previo us interests and activities take a back seat. Natural settings may be perceived by adoles cents as being remote, unsafe, and physically uncomfortable areas that are not conducive to meeting friends or socializing (Bixler & Floyd, 1997). Urbanized commercial areas, such as malls, are teenagersÂ’ most preferable places for socializing (Chawla, 1998; Korpela, 2002; Staats & Hartig, 2004). The group adolescents hang out with and where they ha ng out is very important to the perceived status of an adolescent. Often, their perception of the natural wo rld is that it is Â“out thereÂ” and is the domain of hunters, fisherme n, environmentalists, or birdwatchers. Undeveloped nature areas do not possess the cool factor associated with urban areas that would draw a crowd of cool people (Hur tes, 2002). Despite these documented preferences for urban areas, Kaplan and Kapl an noted that Â“this does not mean that adolescents dislike nature but rather that natural settings do not hold the powerful pull for teens that they do for those younger or olde r. While for many teens there is some
51 discomfort with natural places, there is no i ndication that they would avoid contact with nature if it were the context for activities that e ffectively meet their needsÂ” (2002, p. 252). In other words, if a natural setting provi ded an exciting and challenging curriculum or activity program, along with peer socializa tion, then the outdoor setting would meet the criteria of perceived needs for many adolescents. Outdoor education camp settings can meets social needs in a natural outdoor setting with broad lati tude for curriculum, teaching, and learning opportunities for adolescents. Social and Cultural Connections to the Outdoors Everyday experiences can have a profound effect on individual outlooks and the paths they choose to travel. Reflecting on pe rsonal experiences, indi viduals can associate major events as turning points in their lives. The people, places, ev ents, and routines we deal with on a daily basis also have the cap acity to significantly influence who we are and what we do. This aspect is quite prominent in outdoor education, as these outside factors influence a participantÂ’s expe rience and therefore, how they interpret and make meaning from their program experience. According to the research literature, three major socioÂ– cultural factors direct ly apply to the field of OE: outdoor education as a social experience, nature/human relations hips, and the ecology of family. Outdoor education as a social experience Bandura (1997) recognized that many of the personal objectives individuals seek are attained through socially mediated interdependence. Since all human endeavors are governed by social systems, the development of personal identity or self concept always takes place within a broad network of socioÂ–c ultural influences (Bandura 1997). He also expressed similar ideas as Â“perceived selfÂ–e fficacyÂ” and believed that a strong sense of selfÂ–efficacy allowed for a greater capacity to accomplish personal goals or tasks
52 (Bandura, 1997). A strong sense of self then results in feelings of personal wellÂ–being that are further fostered through the challe nge of mastery experi ences. Bandura believes that overcoming difficult tasks is a way of building self esteem and developing a resiliency to the inevitable se tbacks in life. Perseverance in the face of difficult tasks leads to a strong sense of personal worth and the ability to overcome future adversity. The outdoor context presents broad latitude for experiencing this type of personal challenge and learning. Within the research literature on outdoor education, similar unde rstandings of selfÂ– realization have been referred to as Â“selfÂ– conceptÂ” in the metaÂ–analyses of existing outdoor education research (Hat tie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards , 1997; Neill, 2002). In all of these studies, the effects of outdoor programs on self est eem were significant and Â“the continued gains and longevity of the followÂ–up effects are the most impressive findingsÂ” Hattie et al., 1997, p. 70). Nature/human relationships From a personal perspective, there is a natu ral place that is very special to me. I first went there one summer when I was in colleg e, still trying to find myself and my path in the world. It is a mountainous area consisting of mixed ha rdwoods and evergreens interspersed with large boulders . I ventured into this wild erness area on a day hike with some coÂ–workers and went looking for a place to have lunch. After following a path that paralleled a meandering stream, we found that lunch spot. Each person in the group took off his/her shoes and walked though the cold water in the fast moving stream and ate lunch perched atop a Â“personalÂ” boulder. Af terwards, we did some rock hopping until we came to a natural pool in this st ream. It was deep, at least six or seven feet in one area and we all decided to jump in. I was the la st hold out, knowing how cold it was actually
53 going to be, but I held my breath and jumped in. I can still feel my breath being taken away as the cold water surrounded me. It was exhilarating and I never felt closer to nature than at that very mome nt. I go back to this special place as often as I can, which has only been a few times since that summer. I shared my special place with my husband on our honeymoon and now we share a love for this area together. There is a term for the type of feelings I have toward this place, it is biophilia, a love or natural affinity for biological communities. E.O.Wilson (1984) coined the term bioph ilia to express a genetic evolutionary tendency for humans to want to connect with nature. From an evolutionary standpoint, it seems logical that humans would favor the natural environments that allowed their species to function, thrive, and prosper (Kapla n & Kaplan, 1982). Biophilia as an innate quality in humans was explored further by Ke llert (1993) with consideration given to the Â“link between personal identity and natureÂ” (1993, p. 43). He concluded that direct and ongoing experiences with natural environments are an essential requirement for healthy development and maturation in children. Falk and Dierking (2002) noted that e xploring physical environments is an important element of cognitive development in young children. Â“Neuroscience research has revealed that spatial learning is not just a specialized and isolated type of learning but is integrated with all types of learning; all learning is influenced by awareness of spaceÂ” (p. 62). The awareness of space highlights the preferences that humans develop for certain types of places. Natural places figur e prominently in the literature and some suggest that natural settings have the capacity to affect cognitive processes.
54 Korpela (2002) reviewed studies on th e relationship between emotion and place preference in children ages 4Â–12 and found th at the accumulated data Â“suggested that outdoor environments have more emotional significance for children than could be expected from the actual time spent in those placesÂ” (p. 363). KorpelaÂ’s findings suggest that places can satisfy an individual or pr ovide feelings of happiness and wellÂ–being. These connections can fulfill personal wants, such as privacy, stimulation, control, or security. Wells and Evans (2003) reviewed literatur e on the direct effects of nature on the wellÂ–being of children. They concluded that Â“not only do children pr efer to spend time in natural settings, but disconn ection from the natural enviro nment negatively affects the wellÂ–being of children. Furthermore, the av ailability and use of green, outdoor spaces contributes to cognitive functi on as well as to social intera ction and social connectionsÂ” (p. 315). Edith Cobb (1977) approached her expl orations into child psychology through analysis of adult memories of childhood. Her findings showed that childhood contact with natural phenomena or direct experience that took place in natural settings were often cited as having an emotional significance that persisted in to adult life. Sebba (1991) found that when adults were asked to name the most significan t place from their childhood, outdoor places were consistently me ntioned. Rachael Carson (1956) referred to the sense of wonder, via the mystery of na ture, as providing the momentum for further discovery and learning. Carson expressed an understanding that children will come to know through their sense pe rception and feelings:
55 For the child, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impression of the senses are the fertile sols in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been arousedÂ–a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or loveÂ– then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. (p. 56) The research exploring how natural sett ings can affect cogni tion is based on the idea that exposure to the natural environment he lps to maintain or restore the capacity to direct oneÂ’s attention to focus or concentr ate (Kaplan, 1993; Wells, 2000). For example, a study conducted in Sweden compared the e ffects of the natural environment on children at two different day care settings (G rahn, MÃ¥rtensson, Lindblad, Nilsson, & Ekman, 1997). The first setting was a playground ar ea surrounded by tall buildings with low plants and a brick cycling pa th. The second setting, had an old mature orchard surrounded by pasture on two sides, woodland on the thir d, and a wild, overgrown garden with tall trees and large rocks next to the buildi ng. The children attending the second day care were able to play outside ever y day. Results showed that chil dren in the more natural day care had better motor coordination and were be tter able to pay attention and concentrate then their counterpart s in the other day care. Wells (2000) completed a longitudinal study, evaluating 2,415 children (ages 3 to 20) and 3,329 parents/guardians to examine the effects of natural settings within resi dential neighborhoods. The results of her study supported previous findings which had only involv ed adults in that Â“a child living in a
56 place with more nature has more restorative resources and is likely to benefit with respect to his or her cognitive functioni ng or attentional capacityÂ” (p. 782). Ecology of family We are used to thinking about the envi ronments children experience, but the environments families encounter also contribut e to child development by virtue of their impact on family functioning (Garbarino, 1993). In a community there may, or may not, be the resources and relationships a family needs to experience nature in a positive fashion. Within its community setting, each fa mily fabricates its own web of support from the formal and informal resources avai lable. A family may forge many connections, a few strong connections, or no connections at all to community resources. These connections link families to the tangible a nd intangible resources of the community. Depending upon the setting, the family, a nd the child, urban neighborhoods have physical and/or social qualitie s that are either of interest or potentially dangerous to children's play. Margaret Mead (1966) sugge sted that neighborhoods have value for children in that they are places that can be e xplored without adults in tow, places that communicate human values outside of the fa milial unit, and places where children learn about the familiar and the strange. Mead also believed that children's encounters with the familiar and the strange are integral experi ences to understanding the urban experience and, therefore, provide children with opportunitie s to learn about qualiti es of nature that make the strange either interesting or poten tially dangerous. Novelty and strangeness can take on a variety of forms such as envir onmental hazards or safety. For many urban parents, it is the presence of the strange that most likely influences their conceptions of neighborhood safety and their children's access to places outside of the home. Children's access to their neighborhoods is ultimate ly dependent upon a system of childÂ–
57 environmentÂ–parent negotiations (Perez & Ha rt, 1980). These negotiatio ns appear to be contingent upon parents' concep tions of environmental risks, conflicts with the caretakers' schedule, the age and gender of the child, and an assessment of the child's capabilities. Parkinson (1987) added to this list the c onsideration of a neighborhood's demographics, the social milieu of areas around the neighborhood, and the cultural values of the parents. Many parents must cope with the threat of violent crime in their neighborhoods. A family's response to demands and challe nges from a community environment may include keeping children in side and restricting child activity (Blakely, 1994) which further erodes a childÂ’s tradi tional opportunities for interactin g with nature. Studies have reported that adults are critical to encourag ing a childÂ’s interest in and experience with nature and commitment to out door activities (Kelle rt, 2002). With increasing concerns about the ability of ch ildren to safely function independe nt of adult supervision, another significant barrier to interacting with nature has surfaced (Kellert, 2002). Summary Traditionally, research has been treated as an unwanted, but necessary, part of outdoor education (Neill, 2002). Studies have been mostly anecdotal , and lack the rigor found in other educational disciplines. In the past 10 years however, OE professionals have realized that Â“whether the methodology is quantitative or qualitative, the necessity of scientific documentation is paramountÂ…for the future of our professionÂ” (Bunting, 2003, p. 1) and they have been conducting mo re rigorous research to document and support program outcomes. John Dewey (1938) said that, "amid all unc ertainties there is one permanent frame of reference: namely the organic connecti on between education and personal experience" (p. 225). Outdoor education programs strive to induce some kind of longÂ–term change in
58 their participants. In OE the targeted ch ange is related to individual program goals, which may or may not specifically address environmentallyÂ–oriented outcomes. While these efforts are designed to have longÂ–lasting effects on participants , very little longÂ– term research has been conducted to exam ine the influence, or lack thereof, on participantsÂ’ lives following completion of OE programs (Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003; HaluzaÂ–Delay, 1999). Rickinson, Dillon, Teamey, Morris, Choi, Sanders, and Benefield (2004) conducted a review of 150 outdoor l earning research studies between 1993Â–2003. The review highlights demonstrable benefits for several types of outdoor learning. More specifically, the review provides a clear endorsement of certain kinds of outdoor learning. Their review indicates that the best kinds of OE programs provide longer, more sustained outdoor experiences and incorporate wellÂ–de signed preparatory and followÂ–up work. Their review also identified several im portant challenges for researchers and practitioners. These include th e fact that the aims of out door learning are not always realized in practice, and the fact that the benefits of outdoor learning are not always sustained over time. According to Rickinson, et al. (2004), in order for these challenges in OE research to be addressed, attention needs to be given to two important issues . The first is how to improve the methodological rigor of outdoor learning research and evaluation. Their review identified an overÂ–reliance on one group, preÂ–post designs, and little or no followÂ–up in the medium to long term. The second issue is how to improve and deepen the researchÂ–based unders tandings of the outdoor learning pr ocess. To put it simply, there is still much to be learned about how and w hy OE programs work and affect participants.
59 Many aspects of participantsÂ’ experiences in OE programs have not been explored in research, while other outcomes remain unidentified due to Â“lack of inductive qualitative research [in OE]Â” (McKenzi e, 2003, p. 10). Numerous researchers and practitioners have indicated a need for more inÂ–depth research on the ways OE program outcomes are used by participants after they return to their everyday lives (Allison & Pomeroy, 2000; Ewert, 1989; Flor, 1991; Gillett, Thomas, Sk ok & McLaughlin, 1991; Gillis & Thomsen, 1996; Hattie, et al, 1997; Kolb, 1991; Meyer & Wegner, 1998; Thomas, 1985; Warner, 1984). Over 80% of OE research has concentr ated on increased environmental knowledge, awareness, selfÂ–concept, and positive envir onmental attitudes produced after completion of an OE program (Neill, 2002). These studies usually consist of a preÂ–test, postÂ–test design with postÂ–test instru ments administered immediatel y after completion of the program onÂ–site, or distributed to teachers w ho then have students complete the tests when they return to the classroom. The focu s of these research studies usually centers on a single hypothesis: Does it [the progra m being studied] work? (Allison & Pomeroy, 2000). If a primary goal of OE is to promote experi ential learning, that is to help learners make their own meaning of their surroundings , how can researchers prove anything and should the it really be the focus of the study or should the participants be the focus of the study? Warner (1984) commented Â“it is para doxical that an education movement which places so much emphasis on learning as a process focuses its research efforts on documenting productsÂ” (p. 41). There have be en a few studies, however, that do attempt to find the participantsÂ’ it by allowing participants to lead the direction of the research.
60 Researchers who choose this approach to rese arch shift the focus of the questions asked and end up understanding reality in a new way: from the participan tsÂ’ point of view (Allison & Pomeroy, 2000). This study addresses the research gap related to finding the participantsÂ’ it , allowing them to lead the way under the guidance of three research questions. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to understand how individuals interpret their outdoor education program experience to thi nk and act in response to their individual environmental concerns. Chapter 3 presents an overview of qualitati ve research and how it is used in this study, followed by an explan ation of the theoreti cal framework of the study. The chapter then presents the guiding research questions of the study, the study design, data analysis techniques, and issues of consistency.
61 CHAPTER 3 METHODS The interest of this study lies in investigating a practical, educational experience in outdoor education. Outdoor education program s typically involve in tensive experiences in small groups over several days or week s as participants un dertake progressively demanding activities under the gu idance of instructors who ar e usually trained in both outdoor and facilitation skills. A variety of outdoor education programs have been developed, with relatively li ttle standardizati on between programs. With the ongoing diversification of outdoor educ ation programs, it remains extr emely difficult to determine which types of outdoor education programs a nd methods are the most effective for which types of participants and for which types of outcomes. The review of literature in Chapter 2 high lighted the evolution of research in the field of OE. Over 80% of published OE res earch has consisted of pre-test, post-test designs with the research fo cus centered on a single hypothesis. Since the primary goal of OE is to promote experiential learning, the participants themselves should be the focus of, and drive the outcomes of, the study (Warne r, 1984). Specifically, the need for more in-depth, participant focused research deali ng with the nature of learning in OE is essential to further effective program developm ent in the field. As a result, this study focused on the process occurring within an OE program as opposed program outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to understand how individuals interpret their outdoor education program experience to thi nk and act in response to their individual environmental concerns. The following re search questions guided this study:
62 Research Question 1: How do outdoor educ ation program participants interpret their experience in the natural world? Research Question 2: How does participan t engagement with an outdoor education program shape their perception of the natural world? Research Question 3: How does participant interpretation of an outdoor education program shape their awareness of actions in the natural world when they return home? These questions, derived from the theoreti cal orientation of hermeneutic phenomenology, were investigated using a critic al incident approach that cons isted of interviews with, and observations of, four students. Before delving into the design of the study, this chapter begins with a brief discussion of qualitative research and an explanation of the theoretical framework of this particular study. The chapter then outlines th e study design and data analysis techniques used and concludes with the researcherÂ’s subjectivity statement. The Practice of Qualitative Research Researchers working in the social scien ces who were interested in studying human behavior and the social worl d inhabited by human beings f ound it difficult to explain and document human behavior in easily quantif iable and measurable terms. Empirical measurements can tell us how often or how many people behave in a certain way but they cannot adequately explain the underlying reas ons for human behaviors. Research that attempts to increase our understa nding of why things are the way they are in our social world and why people act the ways they do is considered to be in the realm of qualitative research. Using qualitative research as a type of OE program evaluation has recently gained mainstream acceptance in the field. As e xplained by Guion and Flowers (2002), Â“the narrative and contextual nature of qualitative research is excellent for assessing what can
63 be done to address those needs given the real challenges and situati ons with which people are facedÂ” (p. 2). There is also a growing notion that qualitative research can provide rich information and use the data to show both what did and did not work, all the while making OE programs more effective (Guion & Flowers, 2002). The qualitative researcher seeks to understand and to rela te the subjective un derstandings and the actions of those being studied. Moreover, in some cases, the relationship between the researcher and the researched can be a very close one, ev en to the point of collaboration. Rather than suppressing traditions and pe rsonal views, qualitative researchers tend to draw attention to them (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Shank, 2002). This form of reflection and perspective allows the read er to judge the biases and pos itions of the researcher and simultaneously gives the researcher the opportu nity to rigorously e xplore his or her own interpretations of the data s/he has collected. Qualitative re search aspires to an insider view and this requires the researcher to mix in some way rather th an adopting a detached stance. Qualitative researchers do not seek 'detached objectivity;' rather they try to engage practitioners in their research and re port findings in terms that are familiar to the subjects of the investigation (Glesne1999). U ltimately, it is this engagement that gives subjects a stake in, and an understanding of, th e research. This is considered the basis for action and change. Qualitative research is concerned with developing explanations of social phenomena. That is to say, it aims to help us understand the world in which we live and why things are the way they are. It is concer ned with the social as pects of our world and seeks to answer questions about why peopl e behave the way they do, how opinions and attitudes are formed, how peopl e are affected by the events that go on around them, how
64 and why cultures have developed in the wa y they have, and the differences between social groups (Silverman, 1998). Qualitative research is concerned with finding the answers to questions which begin with: why? ho w? and in what way? Other features of qualitative research are concerned with the opinions, experiences and feelings of individuals producing subjectiv e data, describing social phenomena as they occur naturally, and direct encounter s with individuals, through one -to-one interviews or group interviews or by observation (Coffey & Atkins on, 1996). Understandi ng of a situation is gained through a holistic pers pective and no attempt is made to manipulate the situation under study. The intensive and time-consuming nature of data coll ection necessitates the use of small samples, and sampling seeks to demonstrate representativeness of findings through random selection of subjects. Qu alitative sampling techniques are concerned with seeking information from specific gr oups and subgroups in the population (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). Qualitative research takes an interpretive, na turalistic approach to its subject matter while qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings that people bring to them. Qualitative research begins by accepting that there are many different ways of making sense of the world and is con cerned with discovering the mean ings seen by those who are being researched and with understanding their vi ews of the world rather than those of the researchers. Theoretical Orientation: Hermeneutic Phenomenology Hermeneutical phenomenology was selected as this studyÂ’s approach to explore the lived experiences of students participa ting in an outdoor education program. This framework allowed me as a researcher to de velop a full description of the experience by
65 looking at it through an interpretation of each studentÂ’s program experience. This framework allows a description of how things appear, how they speak to the interviewee, the researcher, and anyone tr ying to understand the particip antÂ’s experiences. Van Manen (1990) states that hermeneutic phenomenol ogy gives a deeper understanding of everyday experiences although the person must reflect on the lived experience retrospectively or recollectively. This reflection may help in uncovering meanings, which are both explicit and hidden. Since this framework is derive d from two different perspectives, a brief description of phenomenology and hermen eutics will precede an explanation of hermeneutic phenomenology. Historical roots: Phenomenology Phenomenology has its roots in the human sciences with philosophers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, and MerleauPonty. Husserl looked at phenomenology as a reasoned inquiry into the world of app earances, an attempt to glimpse the phenomenon as an experience or a descrip tive approach. He proposed that the researcher process the information in a reductive fashion in which the core essence would be bracketed so it could be studied objectively through explicit descriptions (Husserl , 1964). Bracketing is an attempt by the researcher to eliminate prior knowledge or bias about a phenomenon. Setting aside prior knowledge or interpretive influences about a phenomenon allows a fresh impression about the phenomenon to be illuminated. This approach suspends assumptions about the phenomenon. Merleau-Ponty looked at phenomenology as a study of Â“essences.Â” According to him, the Â“essenceÂ” is the nature of a thi ng, which makes something what it is. The phenomenological description is a focus on human -lived experience in the world. Husserl referred to essences as the Â“whatnessÂ” of th ings instead of the Â“thatnessÂ” of things.
66 Essences are related to the true meaning of something (Husserl , 1964; Merleau-Ponty, 1962; Van Manen, 1990). Historical roots: Hermeneutics The term hermeneutics refers to the trad ition, philosophy, and practice of interpreting the meaning of an object, such as a text, a work of art, a social acti on, or an utterance of another speaker (Schwandt, 2001). The purpose of hermeneutics is to obtain a valid and common understanding of a text (Kvale, 1996) . Although the subject matter of classical hermeneutics included the texts of literature, religion, and la w, the concept of text has been broadened to include discourse and action (Kvale, 1996). Hermeneutics does not lend itself to objectivism. To strip it of context and possibil ity, and to claim there is an ultimate, knowable structure is the very oppos ite of what hermeneutics teaches (Grondin, 1994). Hermeneutics bridges the gap between what can be related to in the world and what is now different in our world (Heidegger, 1996) . This philosophy allows the researcher to be sensitive to the subtle unde rtones of language in conversati on and to listen to meaning (Van Manen, 1990). HeideggerÂ’s student, Ha ns-Georg Gadamer, stressed the importance of language in the research study. Words and their meanings are important in investigating human experience as this gives a fuller and gr eater depth of understanding of the experience encountered. Gadamer charact erized hermeneutics by exploring the role of language, the way in which questioning o ccurred in research, the conversations, and how the significance of prejud ice, history, and tradition im pacted human understanding (Gadamer, 1989; Van Manen, 1990). Gadamer lo oked at language as the medium for conversations. He noted that conversation has Â“a spirit of its own and that the language in which it is conducted bears its own tr uth within itÂ” (Gadamer, 1989, p. 383). A
67 conversation is a process i ndividuals go through to gain understanding, thus the essence of hermeneutics. In other words hermeneu tics is both a theo ry and practice of interpretation. Hermeneutic or interpre tive inquiry is a living tradition of interpretation with a rich legacy of theory, philosophy, and practice. For example, research interviews are Â“conversations about the huma n life world, with the oral discourses transformed into texts to be interpretedÂ” (Kvale, p. 46, 1996). In principle, hermeneutical explanation of a text is Â“an infinite processÂ” (Kvale, p. 47, 1997) that, in practice, will only end when the researcher has reached a meaning that is free of inner contradictions. Hermeneutic Phenomenology The two disciplines of hermeneutics and phenomenology have been combined to develop a unique form of phenomenology. He rmeneutic phenomenology is a discoveryproducing type of inquiry capable of uncove ring hidden meanings of human experience, which might not otherwise be perceived. While the development of both phenomenology and hermeneutics are often credited to Germ an philosophers, hermeneutics alone has its disciplinary roots in both ph ilosophy and theology (Crotty, 1998). The two approaches further differ in that hermeneutics seeks to discover the context of that which is being studied so that its meaning can be inte rpreted, while phenomenology strives only to capture and understand the essence and st ructure of phenomena (Crotty, 1998). One of HusserlÂ’s students, Martin Heid egger, introduced hermeneutics into the field of phenomena study, which moved the li ved experience into an interpretive turn rather than a purely descriptive form. He idegger believed that pure description only limited the revelation of meaning in the liv ed experience (Heidegger, 1996; Van Manen, 1990). He felt that individuals live their lif e by experiencing it. Further, the specific
68 meaning attributed to experiences that we put on life is hidden and requires interpretation to have a better understanding of existence. Heidegger focused on uncovering the hidden phenomena and emphasized the importance of an individualÂ’s preconceptions. Therefore, hermeneutic phenomenology seeks to go beyond description in order to uncover the meanings that are not so apparent. The goal for hermeneutic phenomenology is to uncover and reveal the meaning of the lived experience th rough a process of interpretation, rediscovery, and the analysis of linguistic mean ings in language (Gadamer, 1989; Van Manen 1990). Within hermeneutic phenomenology, the resear cher needs to reflect on his/her own pre-understandings, frameworks, and biases regarding the motivation and the nature of the research question, in search for genui ne openness with the phenomenon. Doing this allows researchers to overcome subjective or private feelings, prefer ences, inclinations, or expectations that may cause them to co me to premature, wishful, or one-sided understandings of an experience (Polkinghorne, 1988). This also means that researchers need to realize that forgetting all of thei r deeply ingrained pre-understandings is not really possible and therefore these various assumptions and interests may need to be explained in an attempt to let the data speak for themselves. Practically, hermeneutic phenomenology cons ists of reflectively examining the various pre-understandings that try to interr upt the reflective gaze. This does not mean that a researcher hopes to arri ve at some kind of pure vantag e point, but it requires that the various dimensions of lived meaning of a particular human experience are investigated for their various sources and la yers of meaning, rather than being overlaid with a particular frame of meaning.
69 It is not the intention of hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry to mandate the new meaning discovered of a phenomenon as author itative. Rather, it s hows what range of experiences are possible, how experiences can be described, and how language has the ability to communicate these experien ces to others in their richness. Van Manen (1997) suggests an elementa l methodical structure for hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry. These are as follows: turning to a phenomenon which seriously inte rests us and commits us to the world; investigating experience as we live it rather than as we conceptualize it; reflecting on the essential themes which characterize the phenomenon; describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting; maintaining a strong and oriented pe dagogical relation to the phenomenon; balancing the research context by co nsidering parts and whole. (p. 31) In hermeneutic phenomenology, all lived experience has meaning. Meaning is multilayered and multi-dimensional. Through reflection, the inquirer comes to distinguish structures within the lived experience, as communicated through the writing, and focuses on interpreting these communica tions (Van Manen, 1997). Making something of a text or lived experience by interpreting its meaning is more accurately a process of insightful invention, discovery or disclosure. Grasping and formulating a thema tic understanding is not a rule-bound process but a free act of seeing meaning, therefore, phenomenological themes may be understood as st ructures of experience (Van Manen, 1997). Theme is the experience of focus, of meaning. It is at best a simplification, a form of capturing the phenomenon trying to be understood. In iden tifying theme the inquirer desires to make sense of the lived experience, to be open to discovering new meanings (Polkinghorne, 1988). Hermeneutic phenomenology provides the researcher with both a philosophy and method for exploring phenomena or Â“factsÂ” of the lived experience and interpreting
70 meanings. Revealing this world is a search fo r the fullness of living. Van Manen says that hermeneutic phenomenology is Â“an attempt to enrich lived experience by mining its meaningÂ” (1990, p.38). He also mentions that language and the ability to express oneself to others is the only way to create a c onversational relationship (Van Manen, 1990). Van Manen relates how important language a nd conversation are in phenomenology as a social interaction. Conversation in research includes listening , keeping silent, and hearing the unknowing, thus allowing new ideas to take root within our beings. In this study, I searched for the unique experiences in an outdoor education program , by seeing studentsÂ’ experiences through their stories and through their own eyes. The explanation of the study follows within this theoretical orientation of hermeneutic phenomenology. Setting of the Study Outdoor Education Program Background Information The setting for this study was provided by Pathfinder Outdoor Education, Inc., a non-profit corporation founded in 1993 based in Pinellas County, Florida. Pathfinder operates at five different conference centers in the state of Florida and offers OE programs lasting from one to five days. Over 5,500 participants, ages pre-K through adult, completed Pathfinder programs in the 2004-2005 school year. PathfinderÂ’s mission is to provide outdoor e xperiential prog rams for learners of all ages, ethnicities, and economi c backgrounds in a supportive envi ronment, and to serve as a catalyst for increased social and personal responsibility. With these goals in mind, Pathfinder is designed as an educational progr am and is certified through the Association of Experiential Education. Pathfinder instructor s teach the classes, but classroom teachers and parent chaperones are responsible for the majority of discipline and non-class time
71 activities, including cabin time. Classes are br oken into blocks with breaks, meals, or supervised free time between the blocks. A full day of programming encompasses four class units (each class is about 75 minutes in length), and two evening program s. (Appendix A) Pathfinder offers over 60 curriculum choices organized under eight br oad categories: challenges, leadership, culture/history, creativ e arts, environmental issues, na tural science, outdoor living, and evening programs. Before arriving for a Pa thfinder program, each group submits its class choices from a master curriculum list (Appendi x B). Pathfinder staff members work with schools or organizations upon request to suggest classes that fit the specific goals of each group, but the ultimate class choice rests wi th the group, not with Pathfinder staff. Approximately 90% of Pathfinder pr ograms occur in the out-of-doors (weather permitting) and all are designed to be edu cational, challenging, and fun. Pathfinder activities use a minimal amount of lecture, and focus instead on experience-based learning. Participants actively engage in exploring, discove ring, pondering, creating, thinking, and doing an activity. At the conclusion of a class, participants debrief their experience with the guidance of Pathfinder faci litators. The debrief is designed to draw parallels between what was experienced by th e participant and what may be experienced in real life. Pathfinder programs are typically for groups of participants, rather than individuals, such as an entire sixth grade class, a sc out troop, or a school faculty. Each group of students is supervised by at least one Path finder instructor with a maximum ratio of 1 instructor to 15 students, and an adult fr om each school/organization also accompanies the group. Classes such as the challenge cour se, high ropes, and canoeing have additional
72 safety protocols. The instruct or to student ratio is 1:10 or less during these activities and only staff members with appropriate training are allowed to supervise. The Camp Site The specific program site chosen for this study was Cedarkirk Camp. Cedarkirk is a year-round camp and conference center ow ned by a private non-profit agency. The camp is located on 170 acres along the Alaf ia River near Brandon, Florida. The participants in this study we re all housed in the Cedar L odge. This large lodge is the location of the dining rooms and meeting rooms, upper and lower back porches, and a library. In addition, there are four wings of dormitory style room accommodations. Males and females were on opposite sides of the lodge and had teachers as chaperones during the program. Cedarkirk also has num erous outdoor pavilions, an outdoor pool, three playgrounds, waterfront activities, hi king trails, and multi-purpose fields. (Appendix C) Outdoor Education Program Participants Pathfinder offers programs that range in leng th from half-day to five days. Since other studies have emphasized the value of longer visits rather than one day visits (Peacock, 2006), I decided to use a four-or five-day program for this study. Unfortunately, four-and five-day programs do not occur frequently, therefore, the first school that had scheduled a four or five da y program was asked to participate in this study. One school that had planned a five-day program declined participation. The next school I contacted had planned a four-day progr am and they agreed to participate. The school selected was a private non-denomina tional Pre-K through 8 school located in northwest Hillsborough County, Florida. The student population for the 2004-2005 school year was 550. The sixth grade, whic h was the group attending Pathfinder Outdoor
73 Education, consisted of 55 students. Of th ese 55 students, only five were not white. There was one Asian female, a Hispanic/Polynesian female, two Hispanic males and one African-American male. Permission was secu red from both the school headmaster and the middle school principal before parental permission forms were distributed to the entire sixth-grade. Once parental permi ssion forms were returned, subject selection began. For this study, I wanted to find out how students interpre ted their outdoor education experience. Consu lting the literature, three studies helped determine my subject selection criteria. Dresner and G ill (1994) found that previous environmental experience seemed to diminish attitude and behavior change. Lisowski and Disinger (1991) concluded that students with the lowest pretest scores showed the greatest gains during an outdoor education experience, and Eagles and DemareÂ’s 1999 study found a ceiling effect for environmental attitudes of students participating in outdoor education. These studies all indicate th at children who ente r an outdoor education camp program with more positive initial attitudes towards the environment show the least amount of positive change as a result of program par ticipation. Therefore, this study focused on students participating in an outdoor educati on program who had the least amount of prior experience in the natural world. Levels of prior experience were determ ined using a brief Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” questionnaire that was ad ministered in March 2005, before the study began (Appendix D). Of the 55 potential sixt h-grade students, a total of 19 students completed the questionnaire. Only student s with signed parental permission forms
74 completed the questionnaire. Of these 19 st udents, five females and four males were identified as having the least amount prio r of experience in th e natural world. From this pool of nine students, tw o females and two males were randomly chosen from this group. The study participan ts consisted of two white males, 11 and 12 years old, one 12-year-old white fema le, and one 11-year-old female of Hispanic/Polynesian descent. Before data co llection began, all four students agreed to participate in the study and thei r parents were notified of thei r selection, as per University of Florida Institutional Review Board protocol. There are various ways of collaborating w ith participants, including participants-asresearchers, participants as problem form ulators, participants networked to share knowledge, researcher-as-colleague, and resear cher-as-participant (Schwandt, 2001). In this study, participants were encouraged to sh are their knowledge without restriction, that is, the participant interviews were guided by each participant with no attempt to stay on any particular topic, as long as participan ts were discussing their experience with the outdoor education program. This interview st yle made the study more participant-led as opposed to researcher-led, in which the resear cher would ask a prescribed, inflexible set of questions. In this study, the researcher followed each participantÂ’ s lead as they moved through the outdoor education program. Data Collection and Sources After the questionnaires were completed and study participants identified, data collection occurred in thr ee phases from April to May 2005. Table 3-1 summarizes the phases of the study and indicates corresponding data sources dates for each phase. The following sections describe each data collection phase in greater detail.
75 Table 3.1 Study phases, data sources, and study dates Study Phase Data Sources Study Dates Phase 1: Pre-Trip, Classroom Visit Individual Interviews to establish rapport, verify answers on questionnaire, & explain purpose of study. April 22, 2005 Phase 2: OE Program Days 1 through 4 (MondayThursday) Compilation of field notes and observations as students participated in OE program. Interviews of each particip ant at conclusion of each program day to debrief and discuss photos taken. Field journal updating throughout the day. April 25-28, 2005 Phase 3: Post-Trip, Classroom Visit Follow-up interviews of each participant using pictures they took during their OE program. May 6, 2005 Data Collection Phases Phase 1: Pre-trip visit to the classroom. This visit occurred on April 22, 2005 and was designed to help me, as a researcher , build rapport with study participants. Individual, open-ended 30-minute intervie ws were conducted with all four study participants. Each interview was tape recorded and transcribed. This pre-trip interview centered on clarifying student responses to the Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” questionnaire (Appendix C). Since the purpose of this study was to listen for and hear participant critical incidents through their stories, it was impor tant to make students feel comfortable with the intervie w process, let them know th at their experiences were important, explain that there we re no right or wrong answers, and clarify that they would be asked to explain their an swers throughout the study. During these interviews, students also each chose a pseudonym for their iden tity in the study and procedures for use of disposable cameras during the OE program we re discussed. The rationale for camera use is discussed in the following section.
76 Phase 2: Program Day 1 to Day 4. During th is phase, three sets of data were collected: Interviews: I chose to use interviews as the primary data collection tool in this study because in an interview conversation, the researcher listens to what people themselves say about their lived world, and hears them express their views and opinions in their own words. The qualitat ive research interview also attempts to understand the world from the subjectsÂ’ poi nt of view, to unfold the meaning of peoplesÂ’ experiences, and to uncover their lived world. Kvale (1996) presents a metaphor for the research interviewerÂ’s role as a miner, where knowledge is understood as a buried nugget of essentia l meaning. I chose to follow this metaphoric role in my study, which enabled me to uncover the cri tical incidents of each participantÂ’s experience. I used the da ily interviews to expose the most salient aspects of each individualÂ’s day as he/she reflected on experiences. I used the postprogram interview to allow each individual to further reflect on his/her week and explain why certain incidents were seen as critical at the completion of the program. All of the interviews were tape recorded and then transcribed before analysis. Field Notes: For the purposes of this st udy, field notes refer to the observational evidence used to make claims about meaning and understanding (Schwandt, 2001). A field researcher typicall y takes extensive field notes which are subsequently coded and analyzed in a variety of ways . I compiled extensive field notes during classes in which I was strictly an obser ver. For the classes in which I was a participant observer, I took qui ck notes as I was able and then further elaborated on my notes as soon as the class was comple ted. During data analysis, I went through my field notes and coded them according to critical incidents identified. In doing so, I was able to use my observations to further explain comments made by a participant, fill in gaps in th e interview data and, in genera l, paint a richer picture of each individualÂ’s outdoor education experience. Field Journal: Field journals depend on two things. First, that the researcher engage in reflection, analysis, and self -critique, and second, that the thoughts recorded in the journal be easily acce ssed for future examination (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). My field journal was used to record reflective thoughts, impressions, initial ideas, working hypotheses, issues to pursue, self-critique, and interpretations as the study progressed. Th is journal was filled in throughout each day and after the final program each evening. It was used to facilitate reflection and analytic insight. These da ta were coded as they relate d to participants and their individual critical incidents. Using these three data sources allowed fo r what Denzin and Lincoln termed data triangulation, the use of a variety of data sources within a stu dy (2000). Triangulation
77 addresses the reality that every method has its limitations and when multiple methods are combined, the study is strengthened as a result. Students completed Pathfinder Outdoor E ducationÂ’s 4-day program between April 25 and 28, 2005. Individual student interv iews began after dinner on Day 1 and continued each evening until Day 4. HaluzaDelay (1999) found that as outdoor trips progressed, participants who talk ed about nature or their conn ections to the natural world were censured by their peers dur ing group interviews. He also reported that participants would share their feelings of closeness with the natu ral world when no other group members were present. Since participants in this study were adol escents who could be highly influenced by their peer groups, each participant was interviewed individually without peers present. Three key questions guiding each interview were: What pictures did you take today?, Why did you take those pictures?, and What do you remember most clearly about your day? Other questions that were posed included: What was the best part of your day?, What was the worst pa rt of your day?, What has b een your favorite things so far?, and What things are you looking forwar d to? (Appendix E). Each interview lasted approximately 10Â–15 minutes and was conducted after dinner in an empty dormitory room to ensure privacy and to provide good tape quality for later transcription. In addition to conducting daily interviews, I also accompanied study participants to all of their OE program classes, meal time s, and recreational times. As indicated in Appendix F, my role during most of these activities was purely an unobtrusive observer, but I did slip into the role of participant observer for four activities when invited to by students.
78 As indicated in Appendix F, the daily schedule was blocked into morning, afternoon, and evening classes with rest brea ks scheduled between each session. During these breaks I elaborated on my field notes and observations before moving into the next class set. At the close of each evening, I looked through the dayÂ’s field notes again and made detailed notes and clarifi cations of the dayÂ’s events in my field journal. Each morning, I collected the cameras from each pa rticipant from the previous day and gave them another camera to take pictures for th e day. On program day 4, at the conclusion of the program, the final cameras were collected and an appointment was made with the teacher for a post-trip visit with the study participants. Phase 3: Post-program interviews. On May 6, 2006, I returned to the study participantsÂ’ school for post-interviews with each of the four pa rticipants. Each participant was intervie wed individually and each interv iew lasted about 45 minutes. The interview was structured around the daily pictures each participant took during the outdoor education program. At the beginning of each interview, students were given approximately 10 minutes to look through all of their pictures to remember what photos they took. The students were then asked to choose: Two pictures that best represented their experience in the POE program. Two pictures that best represented their thoughts about th e natural world. Two pictures that best re presented how they care for the natural world at home. A picture they feel represen ted what they would rememb er most about their week OR a picture they felt was very important th at they wish they had taken and/or one that they did take but havenÂ’t ye t used in the other categories. When students chose their pictures, the formal interview began. The interview was taperecorded and I also took ha nd written notes during the inte rview. A set of open, yet guiding questions was used to stimulate stude nt reflection (Appendix E). Students were asked to explain why they chose each pi cture for each category and explain the
79 significance of each picture. Based on res ponses to these questions, further probing questions were used to help clarify, deep en, and confirm participantsÂ’ responses and follow-up questions were used to enrich unde rstanding of the answer s to the studyÂ’s areas of interest (Kvale, 1996; Rubin & Rubin, 1995) . Using this approach allowed me to change the interview format and direction to meet the needs of each participant, ultimately improving the final validity of the data gathering process (Huberman & Miles, 1994). Student pictures were not used as data (a nalyzed for content) as that was outside the scope of this project, but th ey were used as a framework for interviews and enabled students to talk in a more relaxed setting w ith the researcher. It took one full school day post-visit to finish all four interviews. Due to the constant feedb ack gained through the use of student pictures, member checks were conducted as the interviews progressed, helping avoid another visit afte r data transcription. At the co nclusion of each interview, students were given the set of the pictures they had taken to keep and were given my contact information if they wanted a copy of the results or had other questions for me. Since the cameras and pictures students t ook were a vital part of the interview process, the following section explains th e rationale for their use in this study. Justification of Photograph Use by Study Participants Photography has been examined in school s primarily as a way of enhancing the curriculum, usually through writing, but it has al so been used to facilitate discussions on topics such as race and feelings of an individual during an event (Allen, Fabregas, Hankins, Hull, Labbo, & Lawson, 2002). Nash (1982) reported that during a photography education project Â“teachers learne d to see the world through their studentsÂ’ eyesÂ” (p. 36) and were made privy to student experiences that did not surface in everyday
80 conversation. Allen, et al. (2002) were intere sted in learning more about their studentsÂ’ out-of-school lives and decided to use photography Â“to establish, in systematic ways, the necessary social relations outside the clas srooms that will change and improve what occurs within the classroom wallsÂ” (p. 313). The teachers, in grades pre-K through 5, gave students cameras with instructions to take pictures of things that were important to them in their homes and neighborhoods. Student s then wrote or dict ated a story about each picture taken. The photographs became an accepted way fo r children to bring cultural media specifically Â“kid culture,Â” into the classroom (Allen, et al., 2 002). These aspects of Â“kid cultureÂ” were things teachers often chose to ignore or a ttempted to keep outside the classroom. One teacher admitted that she was against television and would rather see her students playing outside, but changed her attitu de after viewing the pictures and reading her studentsÂ’ stories. She commented, Â“whether I think that those th ings are valid or not is pretty much irrelevant because they are so much a part of their livesÂ” (Allen, et al., 2002, p. 315). This method allowed teachers to gain a fuller, more in-depth, complex understanding of their studentsÂ’ lives, which they had never been able to achieve with their usual practice of questions, answers, and teacher conferences. Another study conducted by Adams, F ukunaga, and Parker (2004) found that study participants aged 17-30 were able to ge t away from socially-s cripted answers when they referred back to their pictures, taken to illustrate personal struggles they had endured. They reported that th eir participants experienced an increased ownership of the interviews and felt that their personal stor ies were being heard during the interviews which used their pictures. The researchers al so reported several participant epiphanies
81 during photograph-driven intervie ws as participants reflected on the story of the picture they chose to use during interview time. Loeffler (2005) used photo-e licitation interv iews with 14 particip ants in a collegebased outdoor program. They ranged in age from 18-21, from first thr ough fourth year of college, and had participated in backpacking, rock climbi ng, whitewater kayaking, or sea kayaking programs. The trips varied in length from a weekend to thr ee weeks. Using their photographs as the basis for discussion, the pa rticipants ascribed many meanings to their outdoor experiences. These meanings were gr ouped into three expl anatory themes: (a) spiritual connection with the outdoors, (b) connections with others through outdoor experience, and (c) self-discovery and gain ing perspectives thr ough outdoor experience. Loeffler (2005) recommended that given the power of photographs to keep the outdoor experience alive long after it has been comp leted, that outdoor educators should embrace and facilitate student photogra phy during the outdoor experience. In this current study, pictures were us ed to facilitate conversation and give participants a higher degree of ownership of their OE experi ence. Based on the recommendation of previous studies, study pa rticipants were allowed to take as many pictures each day as their 24-exposure cam eras would hold. This one-camera-per-day constraint was due to financial considerations , but in reviewed studies, excessive picture taking was not a problem identified by rese archers (Allen et al, 2002; Adams, Fukunaga, & Parker, 2004). Before breakfast each day, students were given disposable cameras and reminded that their mission was to take pictures that they interpreted as important to their outdoor education program experience.
82 Data Analysis Once data collection was completed, each individual pre-trip, during program, and post-trip interview was transcribed. The data were read, interpreted, and analyzed using the Critical Incident T echnique (CIT). This analytic al approach is defined and described in the following sections. The Critical Incident Technique The term Â“critical incidentÂ” comes from hi story where it refers to some event or situation which marked a significant turni ng point or change in the life of a person, institution, or phenomenon (Tripp, 1993, p. 24). Flanagan (1953) explained the critical incident technique (CIT) as a Â“set of pro cedures for collecting direct observations of human behavior in such a way as to facil itate their potential usef ulnessÂ” (p. 327). Query, Kreps, Arneson, and Caso (2001) grounded th is method in the narrative paradigm and contended that Â“CIT is more than a t oolÂ…it is a phenomenological data-collection process well designed to capture the dominant signs, symbols, and themes that forge participantsÂ’ social realityÂ” (p. 93). The vast majority of critical incidents ar e not at all dramatic or obvious: they are mostly straightforward accounts of very comm onplace events. They are critical in the sense that they are indicative of underlyi ng trends, motives, and structures. These incidents appear to be typical rather than cri tical at first sight but are rendered critical through analysis. Critical inci dents are Â“not 'things' which exist independently of an observer and are awaiting discove ry like gold nuggets or dese rt islands, but like all data, critical incidents are created. Incidents ha ppen, but critical incide nts are produced by the way we look at a situation: a critical incident is an interpretation of the significance of an
83 event (Tripp, 1994). Interpretation is importa nt because we act according to what we think things mean (Tripp, 1993). There are two stages in the creation of a critical inci dent. First, some phenomenon is observed and noted. This leads to a descri ption of what happened. Stage one could be called the production of the incident, while stage 2 is the explanation of the incident. It is important to note that the participants themse lves, rather than the researcher, provide the explanation. The critical incident is the iden tified by the researcher as an example related to a wider, usually social context (Tripp, 1993). The CIT consists of five steps: Identifying the activity or event to be studied Developing data co llection standards Collecting data Analyzing and classifying data Interpreting data (Query, Kreps, Arneson, & Caso, 2001) The procedure is a flexible set of principles rather than a rigid protocol and includes an inductive, subjective classification of incide nts (Flanagan, 1953). Data management is the key element in the analysis of qualitativ e research, and interviews, field notes, and field journal generated ample da ta. Steps 1 through 3 have al ready been discussed earlier in this document, the next section will describe step 4, and step 5 will be discussed later in Chapter 5. Data analysis within the CIT Since data collection consisted of observat ions, interviews, and field notes, all of which were directly influenced by me, I becam e the primary instrument of data collection and analysis. Being the primary instrument a llowed me to view the context within which my research occurred. This gave me free dom to clarify and su mmarize while collecting data and to pursue new ideas and lines of thought. A degree of data analysis occurred
84 simultaneously with collection and allo wed for member checks to enhance the trustworthiness of my inte rpretations (Merriam, 1988). I conducted the more formal phase of anal ysis by coding the interview transcripts and field notes. For me, this was largely an intuitive process, but I also, as Merriam (1988) stressed, considered issues such as frequency, uniqueness, and previously unrecognized areas. After I had identified the overarching categories for my data, I sorted through each category and looked for ways to break the data down into manageable pieces which fit together. Each studentÂ’s ex perience was unique, which required that each critical incident, or essential elements as I be gan to refer to them, represent their critical experiences to the best of my abilities. Typically, collected reports are represented in a table (presented in Chapter 5) but they can also be Â“described within a narrativ e or story to provide contextual detail about the activity and indicate the significance of the incident Â” (Query, Kreps, Arneson, & Caso, 2001, p. 93). Â“The CIT may be executed through an interview or a written format to elicit responsesÂ” (Query, Kreps, Arneson, & Caso, 2001, p. 93). As Query and Kreps report (1993), the narra tive paradigm provides the rationa le for using the CIT and also Â“helps protect researchers from falling victim to atheoretical methodological approachesÂ” (p. 94). The narrative paradigm clearly s uggests that the tellin g of stories is a fundamental and widespread human activity. In dividuals use stories to account for their experiences and the resulting na rratives shape their sense of social reality (Fisher 1984). Smith agreed, stating that Â“i t is through the telling of st ories about ourselves and the events around us that we define reality, expl ain who we are to one another, and set the stage for future actionÂ” (1991, p. 17). Fina lly, narrative directly captures the lived
85 experience of participants by detailing their interpretive stories which makes the CIT well suited to help practitioners fill in knowledge gaps (Bochner & Ellis, 1992, Query, Kreps, Arneson, & Caso, 2001). Its key limitation, of course, is that it depends on the cooperation and memory of the person being interviewed. To gain full collaboration for the final interview, I visite d study participants before the program began and was with them each day at camp, sometimes participating in activities with them which helped to build trust and rapport. The photographs ta ken by the participants functioned as a memory aid as well. Consistency as a Form of Validity Qualitative research assumes that reality is constructed, multi-dimensional, always changing, and therefore, there is no such thi ng as a single reality wa iting to be observed and measured (Guba & Lincoln, 1981; Merr iam, 1991, 1995; Patton, 1991). As a result, the data generated are interpre tations of a reality resulting from interactions with study participants. Researchers who use qualitative methods s eek a deeper truth. They aim to study things in their natural setti ng, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them, using a holistic persp ective which preserves the complexities of human behavior (Denzi n & Lincoln, 2000). Lincoln and Guba (1985, p. 290) state, Â“ How can an inquirer persuade hi s or her audiences (including self) that the findings of an inquiry are worth paying attention to, worth taking account of? What makes the research believable and acceptable? Â” The reader must be provided with enough information so that the conclusions of the study seem right to them (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). Qualitative criteria of consistency is open-ended, but there are techniques that can
86 increase this concept within qualitative research (Glesn e, 1999; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1998). Consistency within this study In qualitative research, the notion of reli ability is problematic because studying people and human behavior is not the sa me as studying inanimate matter. Human behavior is never static (P olkinghorn, 1988). Qualitative res earchers are not seeking to establish laws in which reliability is essent ial. Instead, qualitative researchers seek to understand the world from the perspectives of those in it (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The real question, as posed by Lincoln and Guba (1985) is not whether the results of one study are the same as the results of a second or third study, but whethe r the results of the study are consistent with the data collected. They suggest using the term consistency instead of validity. One technique inherent in the proces s of increasing consistency is member checking. People who provide the data are as ked if the data are correct and if the interpretations and conclusions are reas onable (Glesne, 1999: Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1998; Schwandt, 2001). Another t echnique for ensuring consistency is the production of an audit trail (Glesne, 1 999; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1998; Schwandt, 2001). An audit trail includes record keeping and careful explanation of the procedures used to generate and analyze da ta (Schwandt, 2001). In this research study, daily field notes were kept of observations and impressions. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and carefully cited in the analysis. Pr ocedures and conclusions were reviewed by colleagues and doctoral committee members. This latter process is referred to as peer examination by Merriam (1998) or an exte rnal audit by Glesne (1999). Clarifying
87 researcher bias and subjectivity as discussed previously is also an important step in establishing consistency (Glesne, 1999; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1998). I presented my theoretical perspective at the beginning of this methodology section which is also an important step in estab lishing consistency in qualitative research (Glesne, 1999; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Me rriam, 1998). The identification of subjectivities (found in the followi ng section) and theoretical perspectives, as well as the inclusion of member checking and an extern al audit, are qualitative methods used to increase validity in a qualit ative study. They gave a more accurate understanding of the process and its interpreta tions and increased the consistency of this study. The goal of qualitative research is to Â“unders tand the particular in depth, rather than finding out what is generally true of ma nyÂ” (Merriam, 1995, p. 57). From a qualitative point of view, it is not up to the researcher to speculate how findings can be applied to other settings, it is up to th e reader of the research. Subjectivity Statement The subjectivity statement is provided so that all related experiences of the researcher are presented transparently. This en sures that the reader can critically examine the truthfulness of the research as being bias -free which contributes to the validity of the research and the readerÂ’s assessment of my ab ility to remain in a suspension of judgment. As a researcher engaging in a study of sixth-gradersÂ’ percep tions of an outdoor education experience, I have many life experiences that have shaped my view of outdoor education which must be bracketed in order to study the phenomenon from a fresh perspective. I am a White, middle-class female who has lived in the state in which the data are being collected for most of my life. I have been involved in the br oadly-defined field of education for almost 10 years. Specificall y, I began facilitating e ducation programs as a
88 volunteer nature guide at a state park, eventually getting a job working as an instructor in an outdoor education and envir onmental education program, and after five years of work in the non-formal setting, I earned my M.Ed. in science education and moved into the more traditional, formal education setting. I was an instructor with Pathfinder Outdoor Education for five years. My passion lie s in teaching middle sc hool students (ages 1115). I believe that anyone can have a more positive learning experience using the out-ofdoors as a classroom. I believe that outdoor education has the potential to make a significant difference in participantsÂ’ lives. I think the field of out door education is not living up to its potential. I believe that thes e programs do more than they are currently given credit for accomplishing. In addition to these professional activities I have personal life experiences that are noteworthy. I love being outdoors. I enjoy all types of outdoor activities and I want to be a through-hiker on the Appalachian Trail someday. I have a very strong, positive environmental ethic. I consider myself an environmentalist, and am in the field of outdoor education to influence ot hers toward a love for the outdoors. I also have a 17month-old daughter and we spend a lot of time outside. I want her to have a lot of positive experiences in the outdoors and help he r develop a love for the natural world as she grows.
89 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS This chapter discusses the findings of this study using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to uncover the lived experience of four students participating in an outdoor education program. After an e xplanation of the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) and a brief introduction to the participants, these es sential program experiences will be explained using the CIT. Using Critical Incident Technique The Critical Incident Technique allowed me to determine specific activities or events that the participants used to e xplain and define their outdoor education experiences. Although the participants had experiences that fell under the same grouping of critical incidents, each specifi c incident showed that each individual had his/her own unique experiences during the OE program. In the individual interviews with stud y participants, thei r outdoor education experience was discussed. The themes discu ssed in the daily interviews centered around their activities of the day, and the post-prog ram interviews centere d around the pictures the students chose to best represent their experienced week of outdoor education. The emphasis was placed on the critical incidents that emerged from the participantsÂ’ data. Critical incidents were defined in this st udy as specific activitie s or events that a participant used to explain or define his/ her outdoor education experience. In each interview, study participan ts identified most of the critical incidents themselves. In a few
90 cases, the participants did not di rectly mention some of the activ ities or events as critical. These incidents fell under research question th ree and were identified as critical by the researcher during data analysis. During sec ondary coding of the data, four essential elements emerged for grouping th e individual critical incident s. A shown in Table 4.1, these essential elements are presented in the order in which they emerged from the data. The critical incidents are presented within each corresponding esse ntial element in rank order of number of participants mentioning each incident. The critical incidents as they address each research question are also presented. Table 4-1. ParticipantÂ’s critical incide nts grouped within essential elements Essential Elements Critical Incidents Participants (N=4) Research Question Community Hanging out with friends 4 1 Working together as a group/team 4 1 Making friends 2 1 Feeling frustration with group 2 1 Getting to know counselors 2 1 Boyfriend said Â“I love youÂ” 1 1 Activities Participating in Challenge Course 4 1 Going on canoe trip 4 1 & 2 Participating in Memory Campfire 3 1 Participating in Underground Railroad 3 1 & 2
91 Table 4-1 continued Essential Elements Critical Incidents Participants (N=4) Research Question Participating in Water World 3 1 &2 Participating in The Beast 2 1 The Natural World Interactions with trees/plants 4 2 Interactions with wildlife 4 2 Having classes outside 4 2 & 3 Not allowed to play outside at home 4 3 Participating in activities while it was raining 3 2 Accomplishments Achieving Zero Food Waste 4 3 Losing modern day comforts 3 2 & 3 Picked up trash while canoeing 2 2 Asserted individuality 1 1 Finding a New Learning Style 1 1 Caring about having friends 1 1 These four essential elements identified in this study were: 1. community, which constituted any topic discussed by the study pa rticipants that was related to friends, teachers, counselors or program facilitato rs in the outdoor education program; 2. activities, which encompassed all of the ac tivities students partic ipated in during both their class time and free time throughout the OE program experience (see Appendix A for group program schedule); 3. the natural world, which included all things animal, plant, and mineral and all natural resources and even ts and the interactions each student had with them; and 4. accomplishments, which included the individual accomplishments reported by participants during the OE program as well as after they returned home. In this study, all of the critical incidents identifie d were grouped under one of these four essential elements. There were 23 critical incidents which emerged from the data (Table 4-1). Of the 23 critical inci dents, 19 were identified by more than one
92 participant. The remaining incidents were identified as critical by one participant each, highlighting the individual nature of experi ences during the outdoor education program. The following section provides a brief introduc tion to each participant before presenting the findings of this study. Participant Introduction Joe Â“I had a big voice for the first time everÂ” Using the Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” questionnaire, Joe was identified as a student with very little prior experience in the natural world and was the first white male chosen for this study (see Appendix B for questionnaire). Joe was a very shy, softspoken boy who required the greatest am ount of prompting and probing during interviews to get any conversation going. Joe always wore a baseball cap and used the bill of the hat to shield his eyes from unwanted eye contact with others. When he would make eye-contact, he blushed immediately and lowered his eyes. He was so soft spoken that his voice was extremely difficult to hear on the audiotapes and I sp ent a lot of time in our interviews asking him to repeat himself. Joe had a very slight build and was barely four feet tall, the shortest boy in the sixth-gr ade. Even when he was hanging out with his friends, Joe didnÂ’t talk a lot. He had a very sophisticated se nse of humor, and never got involved in the typical sixthgrade-boy-humor during the progr am. Joe was quick with a Â“Yes, sirÂ” or Â“Yes, maÂ’amÂ” but never quite seemed comfortable around adults. As quiet and reserved as Joe was, he had a grin that made his face light up and was the first to volunteer to help the counselors clean up after a class. In the past year, 11-year-old Joe had not been camping without his family, but had been camping once with his family. As he e xplained Â“We went to a park and came home
93 [that same day] because of bugs everywhere.Â” He had never participated in a program with Pathfinder Outdoor Education and had ne ver been to any kind of summer camp. Joe reported watching about two hours of TV each day and using his Playstation to play games about two hours per day. The last movi e he reported seeing was Â“Fat AlbertÂ” and he said that he usually went to the movies once a week, Â“i f I have enough allowance and my mom lets me.Â” When asked to elabor ate on his answer related to environmental topics studied in school, he re sponded that they had Â“a geology unit in science class. It was about rocks. It was boring.Â” The sc ience textbook provided Jo e with his reading on the subject of Â“nature about poisonous spider s and snakes.Â” Joe said that he doesnÂ’t usually talk about the environment with family or friends and that Â“Mom likes us to stay where she can see us inside.Â” Joe defined the term outdoors as Â“playing outside.Â” Joe has attended this school si nce the fourth grade. Pedro Â“Kind of like learning in disguiseÂ” Pedro was the second white male chosen for this study. He ran with the popular crowd at school. Pedro was on the student council and played football. The other students would do anything that he asked them to do, and Pedro knew he had that power. Pedro was outgoing, outspoken and had attracted th e attention of most of the girls in the sixth-grade. He was also the class-clow n and I cringed a bit during our pre-program classroom interview because I was afraid that Pedro would just have facetious remarks for all my questions. He proved my initial observation of him to be wrong however. Pedro was a thoughtful 12 year-old who treated his friends with respect. He would get involved in the most minor mischief, but di d not pawn his actions off on anyone else
94 when he got in trouble. Pedro was completely comfortable talking with adults as well as his peers and enjoyed being the center of attention. His Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” quest ionnaire revealed a l ack of experience in the natural world. He had never particip ated in a program with Pathfinder Outdoor Education; but unlike the other study particip ants, Pedro attended two football summer camps the previous summer. He said they didnÂ’t spend much time outside. As he explained, Â“we got to play inside because of the heat.Â” He had not been camping with his family or in any capacity in the past y ear. And upon further questioning, he had never been camping in his life. Pedro watches TV about 3 hours a day and gave a long list of preferred TV programs including: Â“SpongeB ob, King of the Hill, Fairly OddParents, Drake and Josh, and NFL football on Monday a nd Sunday.Â” He also plays games on his Playstation at least one hour pe r day and plays poker with his family on a regular basis. Pedro reported enjoying learning about plants in science clas s but thought that Â“learning about the kingdoms was boringÂ” and his only en vironmental, nature or outdoor-related reading came from his science textbook. He said that he does not talk about the environment with his family at all but does talk about it with his friends in the form of the peacocks that roam freely at their school. Â“W e talk about them when they get hit by a car.Â” Pedro has attended this school since the first grade a nd defines the term outdoor as Â“being out of the houseÂ…having fun outsideÂ”. Judy Â“But I donÂ’t careÂ” Twelve-year-old Judy was the first white female chosen due to her Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” questi onnaire showing a lack of experience in the natural world. Judy, whose personality most resembled the Winnie-the-Pooh cart oon character Eeyore,
95 was the cynical participant of the study from our first meeting. She functioned behind a wall of cynicism which was tough to penetr ate. She wanted to know why anyone would want to do a study with middle school students and when I told her it was because their ideas were important, she laughed and said Â“Y eah, right, no one listens to kids.Â” Judy was the tallest girl in the si xthgrade and she spent a lot of time using self-deprecating humor related to her height. She was awkward around her peers and seemed more at ease around adults. In fact, she searched out adul t contact at every opportunity. Judy spent a lot of time telling me how much she Â“didnÂ’ t careÂ” about making or having friends but spent a lot of time trying to make friends and fit in. Judy had never participated in a progra m with Pathfinder Outdoor Education, had not attended summer camps, but had wanted to attend a Girl Scout day camp the summer before with a friend and was Â“bummed when mom said I couldnÂ’t go because of money.Â” She had not been camping with her family but her post-program interview revealed that she had been camping once with a friendÂ’s Girl Scout troop in the past year. Â“We stayed in cabins, it was cool.Â” Judy said she en joys watching sitcoms, cartoons, and game shows and watches about three hours of TV each day. She said that in school, the environmental topic they talked about was th e Grand Canyon in science class as a part of a geology unit with Â“cool pictures.Â” Judy sa id that she had read an outdoor book in English class, Â“a book about a theme park with a water flume ride.Â” She initially said that she never talked with friends or her family about the environment; but upon further questioning, said that she did discuss recyc ling once with her family Â“and why it is so tough to do it, so we donÂ’t do it.Â” Judy define d the term outdoor as Â“animals, trees, no Playstation.Â” Judy has attended th is school since the fifth grade.
96 Lucy Â“It was 4 days without TV, computer, my i-Pod and stuffÂ…I have never gone a day without that stuffÂ…I didnÂ’t th ink about it really not at allÂ” Lucy was the second female chosen for this study and was the only non-white participant of this study. Lucy was of a Polynesian/Hispanic heritage, but was born in the United States. She was a bubbly girl who was quick to smile and had a very optimistic outlook on everything she did. Lucy had no idea what to expect about the trip and was bursting with excitement during our pre-trip interview. She was the participant who was the most surprised at how much she enjoyed the week and told me five times that she wished she could re-live the week over agai n. Lucy had lots of friends but didnÂ’t hang out with the popular girls Â“because they can be mean.Â” She was the only one of the four participants who had an ongoing romantic relationship with a nother sixth-grader, so she also hung out with her boyfrie ndÂ’s group of friends. Lucy was clearly liked by all the teachers and interacted with adults easily. She had an infectious giggle and always had a smile on her face. The Â“experiences in the natural worldÂ” quest ionnaire identified Lucy as a student with very little experience in the natural worl d. Lucy had never par ticipated in a program with Pathfinder Outdoor Education, never a ttended any type of summer camp, and never been camping with or without her family. She is 11 years old and watches about two hours of TV each day, primarily sitcoms and mos tly re-runs of Â“I Love Lucy,Â” which is how she chose her pseudonym. Lucy al so said that her family watches Â“dog competitionsÂ” which she defined as Â“an outdoor program.Â” She said that they discussed the benefits of recycling in science class and studied the animal kingdom but she had not read any type of book nature or outdoor-re lated book except for her science textbook.
97 Lucy said that she has discussed recycling with her family. Â“We try to recycle but we usually forget.Â” She also explained that she doesnÂ’t talk about the environment with her friends. Lucy has been attending this school since the second grade and defines the term outdoor as Â“no TV, computer, phone , but the grass and flowers.Â” The following sections will present the findi ngs of this study as explained by the study participants. The critical incidents w ill also be presented in detail within each essential element. Critical Events Related to Community The essential element termed community constituted any topic discussed by the study participants that was related to friends, teachers, or counselors /program facilitators participating in the outdoor education program (Table 4.2). Six critical incidents emerged under the essential element community. Two of them were reported as critical by all four participants, three incidents were reported as critical by two part icipants, and one was reported as important by one participant. Table 4-2 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents within the essential element of community Essential Elements Critical Incidents Participants (N=4) Research Question Community Hanging out with friends 4 1 Working together as a group/team 4 1 Making friends 2 1 Feeling frustration with group 2 1 Getting to know counselors 2 1 Boyfriend said Â“I love youÂ” 1 1 During the pre-program interview, all four students were unsure about what their week was going to entail. All four students admitted that they were excited about the upcoming week, but only Judy and Pedro ventur ed a guess as to what their week might
98 be like. As indicated in the following conversation, Judy was skeptical about the upcoming arrangements: Shannon (researcher): What do you think mi ght happen next week at Pathfinder? Judy: I donÂ’t know. Shannon: You donÂ’t know? No clue at all? Do you want to guess? Judy: Um, somebody said we have to hang out with people that arenÂ’t our friends. Shannon: Would that be a problem for you? Judy: Um, well, I dunnoÂ…I donÂ’t have a lot of friends, so I guess IÂ’ll wait and see but it could be not so cool. Pedro was a bit more optimistic, Â“I think it is going to be cool. I think itÂ’s off in the woods, yeah I think its going to be a lot of teamwork.Â” Pedro used the word teamwork more than once during our pre-program interview, but when I asked him what it meant, he just said Â“Ya know, teamwork.Â” He was simply repeating the phrase he had heard his teachers use in preparation for the trip. All four students were also concerned about having to give up their free time as particip ants in the study. Joe looked quite concerned when he said, Â“Somebody just said that we would lose our free timeÂ…I want to be able to hang out with my friends.Â” Once the particip ants were reassured that their free time would not be impacted in any wa y, they were all visibly relieved. Hanging out with friends Not surprisingly, hanging out with friends was a critical incident for all four participants and influenced how particip ants interpreted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. For example, when asked why pictures of her friends were her favorite pictures of day one Lucy answered quite adamantly:
99 I took many [pictures] of my friends. I thi nk those are my favorite ones. Because I like my friends, they are important. I wanted to take a picture of all my friends together. We tried to have Ms. R take a picture of all of us. Yeah, IÂ’ll get one maybe tonight. That evening after dinner, I watched Lucy trying to take a picture of a group of girls. She was unable to keep certain girls out of the picture and so decided to Â“wait for another chance to take it when we are alone.Â” I had never observed Lucy arguing with these girls, but she was quite cl ear about not wanting them in that picture. After dinner on day one, I noticed Lucy asking a teacher if she could talk to her about her sleeping arrangements and recorded the following conversation: Lucy: Mrs. R. I need to talk with you about rooms. Mrs. R.: Yes, Lucy, they wonÂ’t be changing. Lucy: But she is not my friend why do I have to be in that room? Mrs. R.: You will be O.K. Lucy did not argue with the teacher and di dnÂ’t look angry, but she did look worried as she walked back to the girlsÂ’ dorms to get he r things for the evening activity. After this exchange between Lucy and her teacher, I realized that Lucy Â’s roommate was one of the girls Lucy had tried to unsuccessfully exclude from the group picture the evening before. On Day Two, Lucy was beaming as she related her experiences of the day to me during our interview. When asked about pictures she woul d call her favorite for the day, she responded: I took most of them [picture s]of my friends and I wished I had taken some of like my group and what we did today because I donÂ’t think IÂ’d ever be able to do this
100 again, so I wish I had taken more pictur es of our group. There are not very many friends at all in my group actually only 2 and they were in the other traveling group today for the challenges, so no one was in my group. It was O.K. it was a good day because it was something really special. During our DayÂ–Three interview, Lucy brought up the subject of taking a picture of her friends again. Â“I have one [picture] le ft and I want to get everybody. Today, I snuck up on my friend and just told her smile and I ju st took a picture of her. That was really fun. That was my favorite picture, just because it was funny to do. And she is my friend.Â” During the post-program interview, Lucy chose this picture as special and representative of her week. That picture was of her roommate. After dinner on day three, Lucy asked one of the teachers to take a group photo and the girls who were previously excluded from the picture on day one were all welcomed in the picture. The group actually waited until one of the girls could be retrieved from her room to be in the picture. During her day f our interview, Lucy had some concerns about returning to school and explained: Well I think it will be hard to go back to school like it was before. I hope it has changedÂ…I hope people remember to be nice to each other and the things that were said at the campfire last night. That was nice. In her post-program interview, Lucy never ta lked about the evolu tion of her roommate from an undesirable person to a friend, but she did stress that, Â“Uh, IÂ’ve learned how not to judge people with stereotypes and how to respect everybody else.Â” Lucy summed up her experience with her friends by saying: Â“IÂ’m glad I took go od pictures of my friends.
101 There were other things that were important about the week, but these two, these ones, I just want to remember!Â” As her week progressed, Lucy obviously became more inclusive as she explored new friendships with her classmates. The composition of LucyÂ’s traveling group forced her to interact with previous ly unknown classmates and as a result, she made new friends. LucyÂ’s personal definition of friend had expa nded and evolved to include those peers she had previously thought of in a negative ma nner. Even though she did not discuss why she did not like her roommate at the beginning of the wee k, Lucy talked about ignoring stereotypes, learning not to judge others at the end of the week, and had made new friends as a result. Working together as a group/team Another critical incident sh ared by all four participants was working together as a group/team. This incident influenced how par ticipants interp reted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. When the students arrived for the Pathfinder program, they were immediately divided into traveli ng groups of 20 students each. Each traveling group had its own leader, a Pathfinder couns elor, who led their group away from the other groups to learn each otherÂ’s names and ha ve a tour of the camp. They also began completing ground initiatives. Ground initiative s are activities, much like ice breakers, designed to build rapport and trust among group members. One example of a ground initiative is the hula-hoop. Group members st and in a circle and all hold hands. The counselor breaks one set of hands and re-joins the pair of hands through the center of a hula-hoop. The challenge is for the group to somehow move the hula-hoop all the way around the circle without breaking hands.
102 On this first day, groups typically atte mpt to complete four to seven ground initiatives, depending on each groupÂ’s ability to work together. Age of the group is irrelevant when on a challenge course. At times adult groups can barely complete two ground initiatives and other school-aged groups eas ily complete seven or eight initiatives. It is an incredibly interesting process to be a part of and it was amazing to see even a skeptic like Judy immerse hersel f in the process. Â“Oh, this one [looking at a picture from day one] was like the first time we met. And, th at was pretty cool because we just played some games and thatÂ’s the dinosaur, I was at the back. And we passed around and we did the name game. It was hard but a lot of fun a nd I did what no one else could do! Cool.Â” The name game she mentioned involved each student saying his/her name and then doing some sort of physical movement at th e same time to represent themselves. The next person in line would say their name, do a physical movement, and then say the person or personÂ’s name who went before them along with their physical movement. There were 20 people in JudyÂ’s group. I wa tched Judy play this game and correctly recite the names and movements of all 20 gr oup members. The counselor ran over, gave her a high five and had everyone give a cheer and clap for her. Judy smiled and blushed bright red. This was the fi rst time that Judy peered around her cynical wall and although it was only for a moment, she was truly happy that she had completed something that no one else in her group had been able to do. One day two, the traveling groups were in troduced to the challenge course, also known as a low ropes course. The low ropes activities take place outside on a specially designed course and are anywhere from one to three feet off the ground. They build on the skills developed during the ground initiatives. Low activitie s also involve the idea of
103 perceived risk, which greatly enhances trus t within a team. These activities engage participants both physically and mentally. Sometimes taking students on these courses can be like watching paint dry. As a facilita tor you do not want to make it easy and give the participants the solution, but you also wa nt them to have a positive experience and learn from the challenge. Pedro talked alot about his experience on the challenge course when I asked him why a certain picture was representative of his week during the post-program interview: And, it was really neat because we were tr ying to get across like the river with the carpets, but if we werenÂ’t touching the car pets while they were on the ground they lost them, and we had to get everybody across. And we didnÂ’t have that many carpets. We kept losing carpets and having to start over. Yeah, our counselor had magic to help start us over, [ laughs ]. It was kind of frustrating sometimes but I know they made us do it to learn someth ingÂ…I just donÂ’t know what we were supposed to learn at first so I just kept doing it. Yeah, it was cool though. Pedro got extremely upset with his group dur ing this activity and told his group: Â“We have to finish this, you know! We have to work together to finish th is, donÂ’t you get it?Â” Once his group finished one activity, they moved on to the next activity, which was designed to be progressively tougher to co mplete. When asked about his challenge course experience, Pedro explained: That one [challenge activity] was another one of the activities we did. It was where we had to all get on a wire and all try to get around without falling off the wire. It was all about teamwork too, because we had to like help each other get across. I
104 made it, but not many people did. Yeah. We had to like push ourselves off trees and stuff to get across it. We had to help each other do it. During this challenge, Pedro wa s cheering loudly that he wa s the only person to make it around the wire. A girl in his group scolded him for not helping the rest of the group and Pedro got upset with her. After standing at the end of the wire by himself for 10 minutes and yelling at his group members: Â“Come on! LetÂ’s finish this !Â” Pedro went back to the beginning of the wire to help his other group members try to complete the challenge. After this final challenge, I overheard Pedro talking with another group member, saying: Â“Man, that was tough. I havenÂ’t not talked th at much in a long timeÂ…it was hard letting [another girl in the group] be in ch arge but it worked out finally.Â” Pedro was the only study participant who played group sports and used the word teamwork quite often when he talked. He wa s, however, unable to define the concept for himself or anyone else. He was immersed in the concept of teamwo rk by day two of the program, but still didnÂ’t connect with what tr ue teamwork entailed until he was standing alone on one element of the course. It was then that he began to r ealize the true concept of teamwork when he abandoned his own su ccess to go back and help his teammates finish the challenge. This was a defini ng moment for an outgoing boy like Pedro who found a benefit in the silen ce of listening and helping. Making friends Making friends was mentioned by two of the participants, Joe and Judy, and influenced how they interpreted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. I watched both of these students come out of their shells and make new friends as the week progressed. This was especially dr amatic for Judy, who was a self-proclaimed
105 loner and did not have many friends at schoo l. Judy took most of her pictures of classmates and I asked her if having all these pictures of her classmates would help her remember the week more than if she had take n pictures of say, the water or trees, she responded: Yeah, maybe, but I will remember this week a lot without the pi ctures. Cause it was cool and there was stuff that wonÂ’t happen in school that happened here ya know. Like people talking to each other that would never talk to each other at school or not caring if there are boys or girls, ju st people that you can be nice to each other and help each other out. Not caring what we were wearing or that kind of junk. Yeah like it matters what we wear and I donÂ’t care and so I donÂ’t fit in usually but here I made friends that I didnÂ’t have before so I am interested if it keeps up next week or what. Yeah, that way if they diss me, like they probably will I can remember good things about this week with them [because I have these pictures of everyone]. I donÂ’t care but I hope they donÂ’t though. At first I worried about Pathfinder a lot, and now I wish it would keep going longer. I think being out of school was such a good thing and it was fun to have a lot of people who would talk with me and hang out with me when they never would here. I mean I donÂ’t care, but I guess I do and so that is what I wish would happen and keep going. Like no one is helping you do stuff like here at school and then the kids who are in the cool tables well they actually listen to me and think that I am not so below them and maybe they think that just because I donÂ’t have the clothes to wear I am still O.K. But I donÂ’t care.
106 During our post-program interview, Judy did tell me that the girls she had started hanging out with during the program were still her fr iends back at school and she was thrilled, although she still said she Â“di dnÂ’t care.Â” After our post-pr ogram interview was over, I saw one of the more popular girls (identified as popular by Judy) waiting to walk to lunch with her. Judy was all smiles as they went to eat lunch with the rest of the group. Judy had built what I termed a cynical wa ll around her to keep from being hurt by her peers. She had a stoicism about her and told me that she Â“didnÂ’t careÂ” about almost everything, from food to the weather to friends . In reality, Judy cared deeply about her lack of friends and was quite concerned th at the success she had with making friends during the program would evaporate as soon as she returned to school. Judy mentioned that being out of school was a good thing, a nd it was. Removing these students from their school setting gave them permission to br eak out of their tradit ional peer roles and broaden their social circles, and because th e whole sixth-grade went through the program together, the students were able to keep thei r new friends when they returned to school. Joe dealt with making friends by distanci ng himself from other friends during the outdoor education program. On program day one, JoeÂ’s friends stole his camera and picked on him. At the end of the day one interview I added a question due to an observation I had made during the day. I asked if Joe had taken all the pictures on his camera or if he let friends take some too. He said with a sigh: Â“U m, my friends took two. He stole it, yeah.Â” I saw the camera being st olen and the ensuing in teraction between Joe and his friend. Joe was about to take a picture of something and a boy came up from behind him and grabbed the camera. He held it high just out of JoeÂ’s reach (Joe is barely four feet tall) and laughed. Joe was immediat ely upset and yelled, Â“This is for something
107 important, not to play with!Â” A teacher asked what was going on and the boy snapped two pictures and threw the camera back to Joe. Joe was clearly upset by this interaction with his friend but didnÂ’t tell the teacher. Even with more probing, he wouldnÂ’t divul ge any other information to me about the incident. However, Joe did allow his fr ustration to show during our interview on day two: Joe: Oh, a couple pictures might be bad. My friends took the camera. Yeah, they thought it was funny. Uh, they kinda stole it because they were doing some stupid stuff and then they just took the picture even though I asked them not to. IÂ’m not liking them a lot right now. There were ot her pictures I wanted to take and they used them all up. Yeah and there were some cool outdoor pictures I tried to take but they wouldnÂ’t let me. I just wonÂ’t be near them with my camera anymore. I thought they were my friendsÂ…(long pa use). Do you have any other questions? Shannon: Was there a favorite pict ure that you remember taking? Joe: Oh, maybe doing the, on the challenge c ourses. Yeah, mostly cause I got to be around different people. That evening, I noticed that Joe was eating dinner with a different group of boys than those he had been eating with at all the previous meals at camp. During the day three interview, Joe had a different attitude when his camera was taken again: They stole mine. I tried to get it back and th en they took a picture with it. But, I got it back. Yeah I told them that they had to give it back to me! And they listened! They took like two pictures. Sometimes it bothers me when they take my picture.
108 But they are not always nice, not to me at school, but I still hang out with them, but I got the camera back! I donÂ’t know if IÂ’l l be still hanging out with them. I donÂ’t think friends should be mean to you. For the remainder of the week, I did not see Joe hanging out with the group of boys that included the one who stole JoeÂ’s camera. During the day four interview I asked him about dealing with his friends w ho had been stealing his camera: I just stayed away from them. Well it was hard and annoying at times but ya know. Well even people I donÂ’t usually hang out with, we were in the group together which was kind of weird. Um, cause they were nicer to me than some of my friends. Yeah, (pause and then he smiles) so I guess they [the boys who stole his camera] werenÂ’t my friends after all. Joe wasnÂ’t willing to re-hash his feelings or attitudes towa rd the first group of boys during the post-interview, but his idea of friendship had changed: There arenÂ’t too many nice people at our school sometimes. Well some of them are my friends now, I mean they were nicer to me and didnÂ’t steal my camera like some other friends. My group was some people I didnÂ’t know so well but that was O.K. since we worked really well togeth er. I learned a lo t about talking and listening and knowing who your real friends are and that is cool. Yeah, school has been a little bit better. Pr obably people, I mean I have a different idea of who my friends are and that is cool. Being mean just isnÂ’t too cool! During the post-interview, there was a fire dr ill and we all had to leave the building. As we were waiting for permission to return to the building, Joe went over to his new group
109 of friends and talked with them. He was mu ch more outgoing and ch atty with this group than with the first group of fr iends I had seen him with. In order to get to his new friends, Joe had to walk right by the group he had been hanging out with before the outdoor education program. He di dnÂ’t even glance their way. Joe was the smallest and quietest boy in th e sixth-grade and as a result, was picked on by the other boys. It was obvious that he had fallen into this role with his peers and at the beginning of the week had re signed himself to this fate, you could even see it in his body language. Joe walked with his head down and shuffled his feet and wouldnÂ’t make eye contact with anyone. As the week progr essed, however, Joe began walking taller and smiled a bit more often. He started taking charge of his outdoor education experience instead of letting his peers dictate what his week would be like. One teacher commented that Joe finally had a backbone. Joe had i ndeed found an inner strength during the week and it supported him as he stepped away from an oppressive group of friends and joined a more accepting group of friends. Feeling frustration with their group Feeling frustration with their group was al so something that Judy and Joe discussed in their post-program interviews and infl uenced how they interpreted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. J udyÂ’s frustration stemmed from the way she was viewed by her group members: O.K., well, my group finally started listening to me a little bit. But it was cool to be right and have them be like, duh, maybe Judy is not stupid after a ll. Just because I am not all AÂ’s doesnÂ’t mean I am stupid, ri ght, so I kind of didnÂ’t always listen to them either because they werenÂ’t liste ning to me, which isnÂ’t all good, but like it was annoying sometimes. I dunno.
110 It was very difficult to get Judy to talk in any greater depth about feeling like her peers viewed her as stupid, and she would only tell me that she does Â“O.K.Â” in school. However, Judy did make the frustration connec tion to something concrete, as I heard her say on day three, Â“If we tried again, we can do that better. Yes I remember. This reminds me of that lab we did in science class. I wonder if Ms. R. was as frustrated then as we were when we didnÂ’ t listen to directions?Â” JoeÂ’s frustrations stemmed from not being listened to by his new group of friends. JoeÂ’s group was observed having an extremely difficult time completing The Beast. The Beast is an activity designed to focu s on skills of observation, listening, and communication while teams try to accurately replicate a pre-constructed "beast" made of toys or clay. Only one team member act ually sees the beast even though all team memberÂ’s roles contribute to the solution. The team members are also spread out over a course length so that they can only communi cate with one person at a time, never as a whole team. JoeÂ’s group members were yelling at each other to the point that the counselor had to stop the team, bring them toge ther and talk with them for a few minutes before allowing them to continue. During the post program interview, Joe talked about a picture he had taken at the conclusion of the activity: Well like the beast game, we had to work t ogether and it was really hard because we werenÂ’t listening or talk ing and it was a hard game Â…they could make it a little easier where they could see some of the parts. Because no one was listening to me or anyone on our team. Then they would tr y to do it and fail. Well, they could also try new things but some people are stubborn. So I just tried building it myself. When that didnÂ’t work, our team got like ki nd of outta control. We were yelling
111 and throwing things [ laughs ] it was funny but we were mad at the time! Syd made us finish and so we tried but we di dnÂ’t get very far before time ran out. Joe laughed more than once when recounti ng his experience with his team in The Beast. However, during the activity, I watche d him get very upset and at one point, he sat on the bench, arms crossed, head down, and ignored his team members who were screaming to get his attention. Finally he ye lled, Â“Stop yellingÂ’ at me!Â” and he stomped over to complete the task his team wanted him to do. The teams were given a second chance to build the Beast correctly and each member assumed a different role the second time. As he continued explaining the pictur e to me during the post program interview, Joe seemed much happier with the outcome of the second Beast: Yeah the second time. This time a few of my ideas got listened to. We still didnÂ’t finish building the Beast but the parts we had built were exactly right! That was cool! Like, we didnÂ’t get the top part, but the bottom part was perfect, colors and all! No other team got it th at perfect! So we did better, but like, I really was glad that we like didnÂ’t have to do it again. During the second building attempt, Joe was much more communicative with his group members and his suggestions were listened to readily. I overheard Jo e telling a teacher: Â“I wish people listened to me like this all the time!Â” Joe and Judy had both transitioned to their new group of friends when these frustrations surfaced. It is common in group dynamics after the formation of a new group, to go through a period of storming. St orming occurs when group members try to define their roles within th e group as the group tries to ach ieve a level of cohesion. Group members must feel safe enough in th e present group to enter into a period of
112 storming that allows for the growth and evolution of the group as a whole. It is interesting to note that the two students whos e social situation experienced the greatest amount of flux during the week were also th e ones who experienced frustrations with their new groups of friends. Although their friend groups were new, Judy and Joe felt safe enough to enter into this storming proce ss with their new friends and problem solve toward a common goal. Getting to know counselors Getting to know counselors pl ayed a critical role for Pedro and Lucy during their program week and influenced how they interp reted their outdoor educ ation experience in the natural world. I observed Lucy talking wi th her counselor about the challenge course after lunch on day two, Â“it seems like magic th at we were all arguing and then we figured it out and solved the challenge ! You guys rock!Â” This c onversation with the counselor lasted for five minutes and Lucy was quite in terested in the concept behind the challenge course as well. She told the counselor: Â“So you let us get frustrated on purpose and donÂ’t tell us the solutions or all the rules. IsnÂ’t th at hard to do? I think th is would be a fun thing to do as a counselor someday!Â” Lucy talked about this conversati on in her post-program interview and made the comment that she t hought being a counselor would be a Â“great job to have someday.Â” PedroÂ’s interactions with the counselor s made him realize that there are more important things than friends. During our post-program interview, Pedro mentioned how important the counselors were during his week and so I asked him what made them so important. He responded: The counselors were really nice and we ha d fun while we were with them. They taught us a lot of stuff, but it was fun. I mean, they could relate to us and didnÂ’t
113 treat us like little kids like our teachers do sometimes. They treated us with respect and that was totally cool. They were th e best. Well I mean we all had fun because of the counselorsÂ…but I have to say that without them, it wouldnÂ’t have been as cool, so I guess the counselors were more important than my friends. Yeah, (laughs) just donÂ’t tell my friends I said that! Earlier in the week, on day one, Pedro had made a comment about friends being the Â“most important thingÂ” but participating in th is program gave him a different perspective on that topic. Since they were not changing friend gr oups like the other two study participants, Lucy and Pedro were able to look outside th eir peer groups toward their counselors. Pedro made numerous comments about how important his friends were throughout the program. When he said that the counselors were more important th an his friends, he was quite serious. But he also immediatel y looked around and laughed nervously to make sure none of his friends overheard him. Pedro was a part of the popular group and although he pushed his boundaries by realizing that there was something more important than friends, he didnÂ’t feel safe enough to go too far or be overheard by a friend. Boyfriend said Â“I love youÂ” The final critical incident within the co mmunity component belonged to Lucy. As mentioned before, Lucy was the only study pa rticipant who had a si gnificant other. During the final evening of camp and in front of everyone at the closing campfire, LucyÂ’s boyfriend said Â“I love you.Â” This incident influenced how she interpreted her outdoor education experience in the natural world. Lucy mentioned it during our post program
114 interview and blushed when she chose a pict ure of him as an important part of her program experience: No. I couldnÂ’t believe it [when her boyfri end said I love you]! Even though it was cold outside I felt all warm inside and it was really special but I couldnÂ’t make myself say anything back. Yeah, what an amazing thing that made my week even better. (She blushed a bright red) I told him that I loved him back that night on the way from the campfire to our rooms. I ju st couldnÂ’t say anyt hing at the campfire, but it was so special. It was quite interesting to see how LucyÂ’s classmates dealt with this proclamation at the campfire. No one laughed or teased her and no one made fun of the boyfriend for sitting with Lucy at lunch. In fact, the boys invited Lucy to s it with them at some meals. As far as I could tell, this was the only c ouple in the sixthgrade and they had been together for almost the whole school year. Lu cy said her boyfriendÂ’s declaration of love was an aspect of her experience that sh e would Â“never forgetÂ” and would Â“always remember.Â” First love is a life changing experience fo r adolescents. Lucy experienced it fully during her program week and knew it was a special thing. She made an effort to integrate it into her overall experience by not making her boyfriend the only thing she concentrated on while at camp, but it was still a major highlight of her week. Summary of critical events related to community All four students participating in this study mentioned friends quite often as being an important part of their outdoor educa tion program experience. Judy and Joe had a different perspective on friendship at the e nd of the program week and, even though they
115 experienced frustrations with their groups, both made new friends. Lucy took the chance to learn about the program from a counselor and Pedro thought the counselors were of a greater importance in his camp experience when compared with his friends. These seven incidents influenced how the participants in terpreted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. Interestingly, none of the students mentioned the role of their t eachers as critical in their outdoor education experien ce, even though the teachers played important roles as chaperones and were with the students th roughout each day and night during the whole week. The second essential component that em erged from the data was Activities. These findings will be discussed in the next section. Critical Events Related to Activities The essential element of activities encompa ssed all of the activities the students participated in during both their class time and free time throughout the OE program (Table 4.3). Six critical inci dents emerged within this essential element. Two activities were identified as critical by all four students; three activities were identified as critical by three of the students; and one activity was identified as critical by two of the participants. Although all students participated in the same program classes and had the same amount of free time each day, each student focused on different individual activities during the week. Table 4-3 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents within the essential element of activities Essential Element Critical Event Participants (N=4) Research Question Activities Participating in Challenge Course 4 1 Going on canoe trip 4 1 & 2 Participating in Memory campfire 3 1
116 Table 4-3 Continued Essential Element Critical Event Participants (N=4) Research Question Participating in Underground Railroad 3 1 & 2 Participating in Water World 3 1 & 2 Participating in The Beast 2 1 All four participants deemed participati ng in the challenge course and going on the canoe trip as important elements of their pr ogram experience. These activities were quite different in their purpose, but contained some similarities as well. Both activities took place exclusively outside and were described by the participants as Â“hard,Â” Â“tough,Â” and Â“fun.Â” The challenge course and canoeing se gments were of a longer duration than any of the other classes. Each was three hour s long. Canoeing was an environmentallythemed class with an emphasis on promoti ng environmental knowledge and sensitivity while learning the new skill of canoeing. The challenge course was designed to promote teambuilding, but since the course was built in the woods, interac tions with nature occurred frequently. The participantsÂ’ experiences on the challenge course will be discussed first, followed by the canoe trip. Challenge course The challenge course was completed by all four participan ts on day two and influenced how participants interpreted their outdoor education experi ence in the natural world. During their post-program interviews th e amount of detail each of the participants remembered about their challenge course e xperience was impressive. Each student was able to tell me exactly what they did on th e course, the set-up for the challenge, and how they eventually solved the challenge. For ex ample, Joe recounted his experience with the challenge called Â“nitro crossingÂ” dur ing his post-program interview:
117 There was a rope hanging from a tree. Of course we couldnÂ’t reach the rope from where we were allowed to stand. So first we had to get the rope into our hands. We used a human chain for that. Then we ha d a pail of water which they said was nitroglycerin and it was really, really full and we had to bring it across the pit from one side to the other without touching the ground using that rope somehow. And we all had to get over to th e other side too. And if you spilled the water, even a drop of it you had to start over, cause n itroglycerin would have exploded. So, um, what we decided was we would hold it and then send it across with the tube on the end of the rope really slowl y. We got wet but eventually we solved that challenge. It was hard but fun. These challenges were perceived as hard by all four participants and the difficulty they encountered was clearly a part of the f un of the course for them. Pedro was wideeyed as he recounted his experience on the challenge course to me during the postprogram interview. Lucy talked animatedly about how tough the course was in her post program interview and how much she enjoyed the challenge. Teachers were allowed to participate in these challenges but were not allowed to talk or take charge of any of the activities . This allowed the st udents to think on their own, come up with their own conclusions to the challenge, and also allowed the teachers to see their students in a diffe rent light, as leaders instead of followers. This activity influenced how they interpreted their outdoor education experience in the natural world. All of the participants talked about how the difficult nature of the challenge course was what they liked most about it. Adolescents need challenge and thes e participants thrived on the autonomy that this situation gave them.
118 Canoeing During the four day program, each group spent an entire morning or afternoon canoeing in the reservoir located about fi ve miles from the camp. This incident influenced how participants interpreted thei r experience and shaped their perception of the natural world. During the post-progr am interview, Lucy explained: I have never felt so free as I did on the wate r, ya know? I mean we were just gliding along the water and it was quiet and it wa s coolÂ…even though it was hot. (laughs) At first we were talking and then we all kind of stopped talking and just looked around and enjoyed the canoeing I think. We were allowed to be somewhere without adults watching us like crazyÂ…well except we needed help at the end but that was O.K., we were getting hungry fo r lunch, but I liked being on our own it was cool! All four students also related to the f eeling of being free on the water, not bogged down by anything else. As Pedr o explained: Â“Being out on th e water was incredible. I wasnÂ’t tied to anything and I thought that was co ol!Â”, or as Joe exclaimed: Â“Free, I felt freedom on the water.Â”, and as Judy conc luded: Â“Yeah, it was great not being around adults for a change, cool!Â” Since these student s were all in the throes of adolescence, it makes sense that any chance for them to be more independent and removed from the adult culture would be a positive experience. At the same time, they were happy that the adults were available to bail them out when th ey needed help. It was a challenging canoe trip due to the wind and the counselors made su re that the students knew what a great job they had done. The canoe trip functi oned as what Bandura would call a mastery experience and had a definite effect on the participantsÂ’ self-efficacy.
119 Participating in the Memory Campfire Participating in the Memory Campfire occu rred on the last evening of camp and was a critical incident for Lucy, Pedro, and Joe. This incident influenced how these three participants interprete d their outdoor educati on experience in the na tural world. After the sun had set, the entire group, along with all th e teachers and counselor s, gathered at the outdoor fire pit. One of the counselors pl ayed a bongo drum and got the group singing an African chant which is translated to m ean, Â“We welcome you with open hands, open hearts, and open minds.Â” The chant ended a nd the group quieted as another counselor lit the campfire, which was quite large. After the fi re was lit, the concept of keeping the fire alive after camp ends was introduced. The counselor then began talking about me mories and how special they are if you make them special. He told the kids to think about the one thing that was the most important thing to them and as ked them to think about why it was so special. He said, Â“This group has been special to us and we hope that this has been a special week for you all as well.Â” He then told the kids to th ink about the one thing that they would want people to remember if they were gone tomorrow. And since they were leaving to go back to school the next morning, he asked them to think about what they were going to take with them from this experience. Another counselor then introdu ced the concept of a Native American talking stick. The legend says that the holder of th e stick must always tell the truth, and as long as they hold the stick, they can talk for as long as they want until they pass the stick to the next person. Th e counselors each held the stick and began the campfire by discussing highlights of their we ek that made this group special to them, what they wanted to remember, and why. The stick was then passed to a student who could choose to say something or pass th e stick silently to the next person.
120 The energy and emotion that came out duri ng this campfire was as intense as the large fire that roared in the middle of the fire pit. I sat on the edge of the fire circle, wanting to hear and experience everything but at the same time feeling like a bit of an intruder in this experience. I was more like a privileged fly on the wall and wished that I had permission forms from everyone so I could have tape recorded the whole campfire. It was amazing. Teachers talked about how speci al their students were to them, as well as the other teachers they worked with. On e student talked about middle school being a big puzzle, how they were all the pieces, and that after this experience, the pieces seemed to fit together much better. It was a special time and when the students were dismissed to their rooms for the night, everyone was quiet and the mood was somber but happy. Lucy talked at length about the camp fire during her post-program interview: Lucy: I hope people remember to be nice to each other and the things that were said at the campfire last night. Um, I think it brings everybody a lot closer and everyone just, at the evening campfire especially, everyone was so nice, and the experiences were incredible, it was the most incredible experience I have ever had. Shannon: What made it so incredible? Lucy: Well, I mean, everything we learned and people we met and became closer to and that just canÂ’t vanish from our memory so quick! It is so easy to forget and I donÂ’t want to forget! But things like that are why we have to remember and that campfire was such a big moment for a lot of people, not just me and it made me realize how lucky we are and how cool this experience it was, weÂ’ll never be here again and how I donÂ’t want to forget even a second of it, not even a second!
121 Lucy chose not to speak out loud at the campf ire, she just smiled when the talking stick was handed to her and she quietly passed it to the person beside her. This was the first time I had seen Lucy pass up a chance to spea k. There was nothing to indicate that Lucy felt uncomfortable about talking during the ca mpfire but from her actions, she felt safe enough to not have to speak and just enjoy the moment. Pedro also talked about how special th e campfire was for him. During the postprogram interview, he was lamenting about th e campfire being an event where he wished he had taken pictures Â“Of people standing a nd talking around the campfire, just cause it was so nice and I wanted to preserve what they said. It was cool.Â” Pedro also commented that he was Â“surprised at what some people saidÂ” during the campfire. I probed to get more information, but he only said , Â“Um, just that some people arenÂ’t like that in school and so I wonder if they were for real and I donÂ’t know them like I thought I did or they were just talking to talk.Â” He paused and then said, Â“I think I hope that they werenÂ’t just talking to talk.Â” Pedro was as serious as I had ever seen him be when he said that last sentence. He did not want to divulge all of thought s to me, but Pedro was clearly deep in thought about the thi ngs his friends had said duri ng the campfire. Pedro spoke when the talking stick was passed to him and mentioned several of his friends by name. It was obvious that he had spent some time thinking about what he was going to say. Pedro had opened himself up at the campfire and left himself in a vulnerable position with his friends if they were, in Pe droÂ’s words, Â“just talking to talk.Â” Joe also mentioned the campfire during his post-program interview and said he had wanted to say something but didnÂ’t because he had lost his courage to speak out in front of his classmates. Â“Well, some of them are my friends now. I mean they were nicer to
122 me and didnÂ’t steal my camera like some of my other friends. I stayed with them the rest of the week. I was going to say something at the campfire about thanks for new friends but didnÂ’t at first, then I did.Â” When I asked him why he chose not to speak at the campfire at first, he changed the subject and I couldnÂ’t get him to talk about the campfire anymore. What Joe wouldnÂ’t talk about wa s a comment made by one of his new friends during the campfire. When his friend got the talking stick, he had said he was glad to meet new people and Â“make new real friends.Â” Some of JoeÂ’s old friends snickered between themselves at that comment. I saw Joe look toward the ground when he heard the snickering. It was as if at that moment, he had reverted back to his old self: the quiet, shuffling Joe who let others dictate what hi s experience would be like. However, when the talking stick came back around the second ti me, Joe said Â“IÂ’m glad I made new real friends too.Â” Changes in an individualÂ’s self concept take time, but Joe was clearly on the road to a new definition of self. The memory campfire was a powerful experience for all three of these students, both thro ugh their voice and their silence. Participating in the Underground Railroad Participating in the Underground Railroad was identified as critical by Pedro, Judy, and Joe. This incident influenced how par ticipants interpreted th eir outdoor education experience in and shaped their perception of the natural world. This evening program transforms participants into runaway slaves fleeing from southern U.S. plantations. The program is obviously historical in its content, but since the program took place outside after sunset, there was much talk about living on the land and how the environment impacted the slaves. Students were split in to small groups of eight and became slaves embarking on a journey on Harriet TubmanÂ’s Underground Railroad. While using a camp map to find the safe houses needed to take them to their final destination of
123 freedom, students had to be prepared for encounters with enforcers, who were slave hunters out to return slaves to their owners for a hefty price. They had to work with their groups to come up with good stories as to why they were outside walking around after dark. Walking around after dark was a big reason th is event was so critical for Pedro, as he admitted: Â“I have never been this far wit hout a flashlight before.Â” I was an enforcer during this game and was able to observe a ll of the participants as they moved through the game. Pedro was very quiet during th is game and looked nervous when I watched him deal with another enforcer. During our post-program interview Pedro admitted: I mean this was a game but it freaked me out thinking about sitting in the swamps just hoping that someone doesnÂ’t find you and shoot you or take you back and then you get shot or beat or worse. It was real ly scary running in the dark and in the rain and I could feel my heart beating when we got stopped by the enforcers. It felt like it was so loud! I canÂ’t believe that this r eally happened to people here. What an awesome night. JudyÂ’s group had a really tough time moving through their safe houses. Every time they got caught, they had problems and got sent back to the last place they had visited. I watched the group struggling and overheard them arguing, and not making progress. Judy spoke up with an idea and the group went for it and it and it enab led them to make it through to the end and celebration. Her idea ce ntered around the garbage bags that they were wearing to keep dry dur ing the rainstorm. Everyone had white garbage bags on except for one boy. Judy explained how it happen ed: Â“IÂ’m just like, you look like the Ku
124 Klux Klan. And, IÂ’m like, wow, that was weird. I donÂ’t know, I didnÂ’t think. I donÂ’t think anybody would get it. I just saw it and was like that was weird.Â” After the game was finished, the groups a ll assembled at the campfire, and part of the debriefing centered on JudyÂ’s group and th e unique strategy they used to get through the enforcers. The counselors talked about Am erican history and the role racism played in our history and the issue of slavery. Judy saw the situation quite differently and explained, Â“It wasnÂ’t about black or white, it was about gettin g to the safe house. I bet those slaves would have done it too. We were desperate! Not as desperate as real slaves but wow, if we felt only a littl e bit of how they felt, man, that was tough. Just tough.Â” This activity gave students a unique ch ance to work together to solve their dilemmas, experience the outdoors at night, a nd walk in the shoes of a group of people they would have never identified with previous ly. As Joe explained: Â“I couldnÂ’t imagine living like that. Nature is a scary thing when you are alone and they had no one but themselves. Slaves were tough!Â” Pedro was forced to confront his uneasiness about being without a flashlight in the darkness in order to con tinue playing the game. Pedro never would have admitted that he was scared of the dark to his peer group. JudyÂ’s peer group listened to her idea, which enabled them to complete their task. This was the first time that I saw Judy smile for more than a mo ment. At the jubil ee celebration after the game, Judy was fully engaged with her peer group, talking and laughi ng with them. She had taken a few steps away from her cynical wall. Participating in Water World Participating in Water World was another activity identified as significant by three of the participants. This incident influenced how participants interpreted their experience in and shaped their perception of the natural world. This activity en tailed a hike to the
125 Alafia River to learn about the concept of water quality and conduct testing on the river water. While some participants conducted tests to measure pH, tu rbidity, salinity, and temperature, other participants completed vi sual surveys of the flora and fauna of the area. Once all the data were collected, th e groups re-assembled to talk about their findings. Students who were given the task of conducting the visual surveys were more engaged than those who did the water testi ng, yet the water testing was what students remembered and talked about, as Pedro explai ned: Â“We didnÂ’t just talk about the water, we actually were doing stuff in the river and te sting pH and stuff like that. It was cool and I learned alot.Â” Pedro took nine pictures of this activity because, as he told me: Â“I learned so much about the water and how it wo rks and why it is important that we keep things clean.Â” This was the one class in which Pedro ventured out on his own to complete a task, measuring the turbidity of th e water. He took hi s task quite seriously and when some of his friends started fooling ar ound, he told them to Â“leave me alone so I can finish this.Â” During her post-program interview, Lucy made the following observation about water testing concepts: Oh the water cycle was really cool and the water testing we did of the river, that was great. I didnÂ’t know that you could tell about the water bei ng healthy by using chemicals. That is kind of weird, putting ch emicals in the water to see if it is clean. I mean, if you put chemicals in the water it isnÂ’t clean anymore, right? I watched Lucy struggle with this concept of testing the water with chemicals. As the class was ending I overheard he r telling a classmate, Â“I know I am not stupid but I am really confused by this. I hope it makes sens e when we take chemistry in high school.Â”
126 She finished her assigned task, but had a thoughtful look and furrowed brow until the class was over. Joe had an entirely different experience with the Water World class. He was interested in the water testing aspect of the class as well but had an unresolved conflict at the end of the class. He knew he shouldnÂ’t pu t trash in the water bu t was frustrated when he saw others polluting and asked the instruct or, Â“but what can I do about that?Â” The instructors started to talk a bout things he could do but th e lunch bell rang and the class ended before he got his answer. Joe had taken five pictures of this activity, talked about each one in detail, and it was clearly an importa nt experience for him, but he wasnÂ’t sure how to process the new information he had been given about water pollution. Participating in The Beast Participating in The Beast was the final ac tivity seen as critical by Joe and Judy. This incident influenced how they interprete d their experience in the natural world. As described previously, The Beast is an activity designed to fo cus on skills of observation, listening, and communication while teams try to accurately replicat e a pre-constructed "beast" made of toys or clay. Judy talked a bout being frustrated when they were building the first Beast, Â“I mean how can they [the other group members] build something that I am the one observing? My group didnÂ’t listen to me at all.Â” I watched Judy get very upset that her team members didnÂ’t listen to her during the first game. She tried to get their attention but the other team memb ers were trying to buy parts to build the beast. Judy exclaimed: Â“You havenÂ’t see it yet! How can you buy parts for something that you havenÂ’t seen! You arenÂ’t listening to me! O. K., fine. Whatever. I donÂ’t care.Â” She then went over and starte d playing with the tetherball until she was asked to go back to her post by the instruct or. She complied with a shrug and scuffed
127 back to her post. The groups are given a s econd chance to complete a different Beast, and this time Judy felt better about the outco me, explaining: Â“We got like close except that was supposed to be standing up. Yeah, and we put that on a gray stick, we just put in on the wrong gray stick.Â” Joe talked about how Â“hard and really trickyÂ” this activity was and Judy acted surprised when she told me how the game enab led her to Â“talk better with my friends.Â” In both cases, Judy and Joe were observed hang ing out with their new groups of friends, as discussed earlier. JudyÂ’s group came the cl osest of all the groups to correctly copying the original Beast and they were very proud of themselves. Interestingly, this was also the activity that caused both Joe and Judy fr ustrations with their group. This activity functioned as a critical and positive turning point in their relationships with their new groups of friends for both of these students. Summary of Critical Events Related to Activities Students participated in 16 di fferent activities during thei r program week. Nine of these activities had a total or partial envir onmental focus. During data analysis, six activities were iden tified as critical by students (Table 4-3), all of which were conducted outside. Three of these classes had a comple te or partial environmental focus (canoeing, water world, and the underground railroad), tw o of these classes were at night (the underground railroad and the memory campf ire), two classes were centered around the water (water world and canoeing), and all of the activities were considered Â“tough,Â” Â“hard,Â” or Â“different than school .Â” These classes were all st ructured so that the students were in charge of their experiences, the a dults involved had supporting or safety roles only, and the participants enjoyed that aspect of the classes.
128 All four participants identified the ch allenge course as important in their experience. Joe and Judy found a new sense of self in the challenges, whereas Pedro experienced the benefit of silencing himself, and Lucy discovered the utility of teamwork and investigated the workings behind facilitating a challenge course. Canoeing was also identified by all four students as important in their week. Students mentioned the experience as Â“cool,Â” Â“fun,Â” and Â“tough.Â” Lucy discussed at length the experience of feeling free when she was on th e water, even when her group struggled against the wind. All of the students enjoyed th e independence they had from the adults while on the canoeing trip, although they were glad to have the adult help when they needed it. The Memory Campfire, Underground Railr oad and Water Worl d were identified as important by three participants each. Lucy discussed the campfire as being Â“the most incredible experience sh e had ever hadÂ” and Â“wanting to remember every second of it.Â” The students talked about iden tifying with the past, lear ning about the slaves, being scared while living in the footsteps of some one else, and having a new experience in the outdoors while it was dark a nd raining with the Underg round Railroad. Water World surprised Pedro with the hands on learning as pect and gave the ot her two students new issues to think about. Finally, Judy and Joe identified The Beas t as being an important experience. Both of these students experienced frustrat ions with their groups and experienced a turning point in the re lationships with their new friends . Interestingly, although all four students were quite concerned about the amount of free time they would have during the pre-trip interview, during the post-trip inte rview, none of the students mentioned free
129 time as being as important to their experience. The third essential component that emerged from the data was the Natural Worl d. These findings will be discussed in the next section. Critical Events Related to The Natural World This essential component includes all things animal, plant, and mineral, in other words, all natural resources and events and the interactions each student had with them (Table 4.4). Five critical incidents emerged w ithin this essential element. Four activities were identified as critical by a ll four students and one activity was identified as critical by three of the participants. This program took place at Cedarkirk camp, which is owned by a private, nonprofit group. It is lo cated on the Alafia River within 170 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and uplands just outside of Brandon, Florida. During th e outdoor education program, students spent about 90% of their program da y outdoors and were in contact with the natural world for about 95% of that time. Table 4-4 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents within the essential element of the natural world Essential Element Critical Incident Participants (N=4) Research Question The Natural World Interactions with Trees/Plants 4 2 Interactions with Wildlife 4 2 Having classes outside 4 2 & 3 Not allowed to play outside at home 4 3 Participating in activities while it was raining 3 2 Interactions with trees/plants Interactions with Trees/Plants was identified as important by all four participants. This incident shaped the participantsÂ’ pe rceptions of the natural world. All four participants talked about the Â“branchesÂ” th ey encountered during a hike they took when
130 they first arrived at camp on day one. The camp had sustained significant damage to many trees during the previous hurricane seas on, leaving their hiking paths less than clear for walking. Lucy was surprised by Â“how many trees are out here. IÂ’ve never seen so many trees in one place before!Â” Pedro was excited by the hike his group t ook on day one as he explained during the day one interview: My favorite picture was when we were hiking down by the little stream Â‘cause it was really cool. The Tigger tree that was hanging out over the water like this [leans sideways on one foot] was so cool and the sand was so white. On their hike, their counselor walked them by the Â“Tigger TreeÂ” which is an old bald cypress. If you look at the fr ont of the tree from the corr ect angle, it has a knot that resembles the face of Tigger the Tiger from Winnie the Pooh stories. Pedro asked all three of the Pathfinder staff about this tree a nd talked at length with one of the counselors about bald cypress and how the Â“faceÂ” on the tree came to be. During his post-program interview, Pedro exclaimed: The Tigger tree, it was so cool! Yeah, s eeing that made me want to learn about trees and how they work. That is so cool, I mean, that the tree is alive and had this face that we donÂ’t know how it happened. Y eah, I want to learn more about trees! During her post-program interview, Judy c hose to talk about many pictures whose focus was the natural world. Judy also talked about trees and how they reminded her of the hurricanes because Â“I have a bunch of r eally tall treesÂ” at ho me and many of them were damaged or fell completely during th e hurricanes. She then found a picture that reminded her of a hike her group took during a class where they found a dry, brown,
131 dead-looking resurrection fern and decided to put it in wate r to see what would happen. Judy stood up in front of the whole school gr oup after lunch and showed them the green resurrection fern and told the story of how they found it, where they found it, and what they did to make the fern turn green again. She was careful to point out to the group that it was the same fern and said: Â“We didnÂ’ t use magic, it is like cool huh.Â” Joe talked about his expe rience with trees at camp during his post-program interview: And I liked being out under the trees. I donÂ’t remember the name of all the trees, Syd was telling us about them on a hike to the river but there were so many and I knew them that week but I forgot now. Oh well. Uh, well they were hard but if I saw them more maybe I would remember. I do remember that there was one tree that she said always grew by the water caus e it likes water a lot, which is different than the pine trees in the challenge course. Just before free time on day three, I watched Joe trying to explain to a classmate how to identify a pine tree using just the pine cone s from the tree. Â“It is like a fingerprint, they are all different, like CSI.Â” Both students spent 30 minutes of their free time identifying the different pine trees. Joe told the student he was worki ng with, Â“yeah, I hadnÂ’t thought of trees like this before. I thought they were all the same until seeing them like this. Cool.Â” All four participants had interactions w ith the trees/plants during their program experience that influenced their perception of the natural world. These spontaneous experiences with trees/plants would not have occurred in a traditional school setting.
132 They all were clearly engaged and interested in learning about the fl ora at camp and three of the participants wanted to learn more. Interactions with wildlife Interactions with wildlife was identified as important by all fo ur participants and were incidents that shaped the participants Â’ perceptions of the natural world. LucyÂ’s encounters with the natural world did not star t out positively in her eyes however. As she explained on day one: Â“I did not like the hike because it was really hard because there were all these trees and branches in the way and there was poison ivy and bees.Â” I watched Lucy run from Â“something buzzingÂ” as she finished this statement, and she brought a shirt to sit on when they were Â“in th e grass or dirt.Â” Although all of her classes were held outdoors, Lucy didnÂ’t mention an ything associated with the natural world again until day three after her canoe trip: Â“I was kinda worri ed about the alligators but more really about the spiders and bees.Â” Lu cy saw a spider and ran away screaming as she finished this statement. Lucy carried he r shirt with her every day of camp and always sat on it when she was outside , even on human made surfaces such as benches or picnic tables. During her post-program interview, Lucy also talked about the things she did involving the natural world a nd her thoughts about the wildli fe she saw while at camp: But we saw some really neat stuff! The wild life was so cool! I have never seen so many things in one place like that except the zoo and now I donÂ’ t think that counts anymore because they arenÂ’t there by choice, they live there kind of like we have to go to school each day, cause they have to be there.
133 As the interview continued, Lucy talked about some of her other encounters with wildlife. Lucy admitted to being Â“a little bi tÂ” afraid of lizards but Â“not as muchÂ” as before camp. Â“Their noise scares me, but they are not so scaryÂ”, she was referring to the rustle of the leaves or branches that would make her jump as the animal would run away. During the canoe trip, Lucy had an encounter w ith an alligator and also had to deal with her fear of bees and spiders. She said that she wasnÂ’t scared of th e alligators and couldnÂ’t understand why her classmates were freaking out about the alligator when there was a spider in her canoe to worry about. During his post program interview, Pe dro was also quite excited when he explained his close encounter with an alliga tor on the canoe trip as he explained: On the canoeing, there were lots of alligato rs but I wasnÂ’t really scared of them cause they were not going to climb into our canoe or anything. IÂ’ve seen them at the zoo, but I have been pretty close to them. Yeah, I was on a golf course once and I was going down to find my golf ball ne ar the lake and I wa snÂ’t looking where I was walking and then I looked, oh my gos h, there was like a alligator and it was like from here to the wall it wasnÂ’t looki ng at me, so I just got away. One of the alligators was kind of following our canoe Â…kind of, it was kind of creepy. Well, it wasnÂ’t so much following me, but there wa s one canoe that ran over one. Like ran into one. That was pretty scary. I think the alligator got away, but they were like, aaahhh! JudyÂ’s described her first encounter with th e natural world at the end of day one. She was not sure that she liked being outside and had a frown on her face as she told me about her first hike:
134 Weird, I donÂ’t know. The hike was kinda weird cause there was like bugs in my face. Oh, and I thought SarahÂ’s shoelace wa s a snake for a minute there. And, IÂ’m like aaahhh! I was screaming like a gi rlÂ…Yeah, that was kinda weird. Judy also mentioned Â“lots of dirtÂ” on the ch allenge course, which is located in a pine grove. On day one and two, I watched Judy pl aying in the sand, lean ing on the trees in the challenge course, and attempting to kill every insect she saw as she screamed: Â“Another bug, yuk!Â” She didnÂ’t mention insect s again until day four at which point her view toward insects seemed to have softened somewhat when she said: But IÂ’m not scared of the bugs anymore like I wasÂ…well I mean they are still a little scary and some of them are really big and gross but I can stay away from them and not have to kill them allÂ…but I might kill some ya know if they really scare meÂ…like THAT. (she stomped her foot) I am O.K. sharing my world with bugs as long as they donÂ’t invade my space.Â” I watched as Judy killed an entire line of s ugar ants with her foot while she was talking about sharing her wo rld with insects. Finally, Judy talked about watching the migrating swallow-tailed kites fly overhead during her time on the challenge cour se. I watched Judy take five or six pictures trying to get a Â“good picture of the birdÂ” because she hadnÂ’t seen one like it before and Â“wanted to remember how cool it was.Â” Joe also talked about the alligators he saw during his canoeing trip during his post-program interview as he described the enco unter: Â“I have never been that close to an alligator before.Â” There were other anim als on the canoeing trip that were memorable for Joe, as he explained: Â“I saw an owl a nd a hawk. I have never seen one they are so
135 big!Â” and Â“We found ant lions. Well we were tr ying to get them to come out and grab the sand. Yeah and Amalia told us what they are and that they are larv as and eat a lot of whatever falls into their trap. Totally cool! That was something I didnÂ’t learn before at all!Â” Joe explained that he wanted to reme mber the wildlife because they were Â“coolÂ” and Â“not something I see at home.Â” Lucy and Judy both started out with some misgivings about interacting with animal, specifically insects. While they both talked about being more comfortable dealing with the insects as the week progresse d, their actions told otherwise. Lucy kept her shirt with her and never sat on the gr ound or any surface without her shirt and was still uncomfortable around insects. Judy said she was comfortable sh aring her world with insects, yet was observed systematically kill ing insects the entire week. However, Lucy did make an observation where she compared zoo animals with school students, so she was able to see the difference in wildlife sh e had seen before outside of camp and the wildlife she saw while at camp. Having classes outside Having classes outside was important to all four participants. Th is incident shaped the participantsÂ’ perceptions of the natural worl d. On the last day of camp, Lucy shared her thoughts about the natural world: I thought it would be just hiki ng and all that kind of stuff but it took a lot of time, it was hard sometimes, but it was so awesom e and we were outside all the time which I really liked which also surprised me because I spend my time indoors at home, not outside and now I am wondering if I can do things outside too. I dunno. I wish I could do it all again!
136 Lucy did express a regret regarding her e xperience with the natural world during her program experience, Â“I wish I had taken more pictures of the outdoors because I took lots of pictures of my friends a nd I see them everyday but I can never go back and see that stuff at camp again. Nature is so far away. There were many things to remember. The outdoors, just being outdoors.Â” Pedro summed up his experience in the out doors during the day four interview: Â“I loved being outdoors and having the classes th at way was cool and fun. I liked not having walls around me and hearing the birds, it was cool.Â” Pedro also wished he had taken more pictures of the Â“outdoors, the cr itters, and plantsÂ…Â’cause we just donÂ’t have this at home. Nature is cool.Â” During her post program interview Judy said Â“oh, I really liked being outdoors and not having to be sitting in my seat all w eek. It was easier to pay attention to some stuff when I wasnÂ’t sitting still all day.Â” She said that she took a lo t of Â“nature picturesÂ” but wished she had taken more so she would remember them at home. Judy explained that even though they have Â“a lot of trees stillÂ” in her yard at home, Â“they arenÂ’t the same as these trees out here.Â” Joe enjoyed being outside, as he explai ned during his post-program interview: Â“cause we could walk around and look at the lake. ItÂ’s not like just stand there, we get to walk around, and have classes outdoors not like sc hool. I like that part of being outside.Â” Joe said he felt like he took a lot of pictures of Â“nature a nd the outdoorsÂ” and he wanted to be able to remember camp because Â“you donÂ’t see stuff like this everyday.Â” All four participants enjoye d having classes outside. Th e students talked about the program being different from school. Participating in this program, they were not
137 confined by walls or forced to sit in a seat all day. The uniqueness of the setting was important to these students. All four student s also viewed nature as something that was different than what they usually see at home. Study participants di d not equate the trees and birds in their backyard to the trees and birds at camp. They viewed nature as a separate entity, novel from thei r home setting to the camp setting. Not allowed to play outside at home This critical incident came up during the post-program interviews when all four students became aware that their parents did not allow them to play outside at home. This shaped their awareness of their actions in the natura l world when they returned home. All four students expressed a desire to spend more time playing and hanging out outdoors once they returned from their outdoor education expe rience. Study participants made comments similar to JoeÂ’s when I aske d if they were spending more time outside after their program, Â“Yeah I think so, but mo m is kind of crazy about where we go, she worries, I think she wants us inside so she doe snÂ’t worry about where we are. But I have been going out a little more when I am not pl aying the Madden game.Â” I found this to be an extremely interesting finding. The study pa rticipants perceived their parents as not wanting them to play outside for fear that th ey would be hurt, get lost, or be kidnapped. Judy explained: Â“Well, I want to go out more , ya know, but I am not supposed to go very far so why bother. I just stay in.Â” Pedro la ughed as he said: Â“I can go places with my dad but he is busy, and mom wants us near her so she can get stuff done. ThatÂ’s how I got to be so good at poker.Â” Lucy thought about it fo r a few minutes when asked if she spent more time outside since participating in the OE program: Â“Um, well, I try to. My sister and I can go out sometimes, but I think mom likes it when we are inside and she knows what we are doing all the time.Â”
138 Participating in activities while it was raining Participating in activities while it was rain ing was mentioned as critical by three of the participants. This incident shaped the participantsÂ’ perceptions of the natural world. Rain was viewed both negatively and positively by the study participants. On day two, a typical Florida afternoon thunde rstorm began just as free time was starting, so swimming was cancelled for the day. As Pedro explained: Â“The rain was a bummerÂ…I wanted to swim.Â” This sentiment was echoed by J udy who was Â“sad to miss out on swimming cause of the rain. I mean, we are wet eith er way, so who cares?Â” I watched everyone squeal and run for cover when the rain starte d. No one wanted to get wet and they all stayed inside even after the ra in had subsided because accord ing to Judy, Â“things were all wet and gross.Â” On day three, a large thunders torm with torrential rain started after the groups had left the pavilion to play the Underg round Railroad game. It was about 20 Ã» F cooler and the rain was literally blinding. If the rain had starte d 10 minutes earlier, the counselors would not have let the student s go out into the storm, but by the time the rain began, the game had started and the students were already wet, so they decided to let the game go on as planned. Pedro was all smiles when he talked about it during the post program interview: Â“The rain was really cool. Yeah, it ruined my shoes, and theyÂ’re still in the garage trying to not smell anymore, but it wa s really fun because we got to get wet and that doesnÂ’t normally happen.Â” Joe agreed du ring his post program interview, Â“I wished it rained more at night. Well, it was fun when it rained because we got to get wet. It was hard to run through the mud all wet and nasty. That was good, I didnÂ’t really want to be inside.Â”
139 Judy had a unique experience, as she wa s one of the students who was asked to help move the campfire from the fire pit to the covered pavilion. Â“I got so wet. Some people only got a little bit wet, but I was soaked totally. Â‘C ause I had to go get the wood, that was like in the outdoor fire pit, Â‘cause it was covered, to make that fire in the pavilion. It was so cool.Â” I watched the same students who had run for cover from the rain the previous day, squeal w ith delight and run out to stomp in the mud and play in the rain. It was interesting to see how perspec tive changed the studentsÂ’ attitudes about the weather. I would venture a gue ss that if the rain has cause d the game to be cancelled, their memory of the rain would have been completely negative. Summary of critical events related to the natural world All four students talked about enjoyi ng the outdoors in varying capacities. Interactions with wildlife, plants and trees were talked about a lo t by all four of the participants. Lucy and Judy began their week with a negative feeling about insects in the natural world, and both girls repor ted that their initial fears were diminished somewhat by the end of their camp experi ence, but their actions showed otherwise. Pedro, Judy, and Joe mentioned their experiences with the w eather and their changing attitudes according to the situation at hand. Each of the stude nts had unique individual experiences with the natural world as well. Lucy realized the difference between wild and captive animals, Joe learned about trees and took his own time to continue explori ng them, Pedro enjoyed being outside the school walls, and Judy stood up in front of her group to explain a new plant and how it worked. Interestingly, all four students perceived their parents as barriers to spending more time outside on ce they returned ho me after the outdoor education program. All four students also expr essed a desire to remember nature because they viewed not having nature at their homes. One final in dicator of the value students
140 placed on the natural world was that, although th e studentsÂ’ pictures were only designed to be used as a way to stimulate discussion during our interviews, the content of all four studentsÂ’ pictures became more nature-focused as the week progressed. The fourth and final essential component that emerged from the data was Accomplishments. These findings will be discussed in the next section. Critical Events Related to Accomplishments The final essential component includes the individual accomplishments reported by participants during their week at camp as well as after they returned home (Table 4-5). These accomplishments highlight both shared and individual experiences during the outdoor education program. Six cr itical incidents emerged within this essential element. One incident was identified as critical by all four students; one incident was identified as critical by three of the participants; one incide nt was identified as critical by two of the participants; and three incidents were identifi ed as critical by an individual participant. Table 4-5 ParticipantÂ’s critical incidents within the essential element of accomplishments Essential Element Critical Incident Participants (N=4) Research Question Accomplishments Achieving Zero Food Waste 4 3 Losing modern day comforts 3 2 & 3 Picked up trash while canoeing2 2 Asserted individuality 1 1 Finding a New Learning Style 1 1 Caring about having friends 1 1 Achieving zero food waste Achieving Zero Food Waste was identifie d by all four students as a shared accomplishment. This incident shaped partic ipantsÂ’ awareness of their actions in the natural world when they retu rned home. At the conclusi on of the first meal at camp, students were introduced to the concept of zero food waste. Food waste was considered
141 anything edible that was taken from a serving bowl, platter, or pitcher and put on a plate or in a cup, but not eaten. Counselor s led a discussion about the food chain, consumption, and each individualÂ’s role in reducing consumption. The goal for each meal was to not waste any food and to reach zero food waste as soon as possible and maintain zero food waste for the duration of th e program. Pathfinder takes this task quite seriously and awards certificates to each group that reaches the goal of zero waste. After each mealtime, different groups of students were in charge of weighing the food waste of the entire group. They would dress up and do a skit whose theme was zero food waste. This class reached the goal of zero food wa ste one time during thei r stay at camp, dinner on Day Three. The study participants had differing view s about the concept of zero food waste initially. Lucy was observed throwing a whol e plate of food away during the first lunch as she told a friend: Â“I donÂ’t know why this ma tters, but I guess weÂ’ll see what happens.Â” On Day Two, LucyÂ’s table didnÂ’t throw a ny food away and on Day Three, they were quite upset when someone spille d their juice and it had to be scraped into the food waste bucket. Lucy exclaimed: Â“We have to be mo re careful!Â” After dinner on Day Three, the whole group celebrated when they attained zero food waste, and were arguing on Day Four when a small piece of pancake kept them from zero again. In her post-program interview, Lucy said Â“We tried so hard for zero food waste and at first I didnÂ’t get it but then after we talked about it well it made sense so we tried so hard. I was kind of mad when we only got it on ce.Â” Lucy said that this behavior was something she was trying to carry over at home with her family:
142 Pedro also mentioned the zero food waste as an accomplishment that he hadnÂ’t considered before camp, but that he realized now that everyone needed to work together because one person couldnÂ’t do it alone: Um, well the food waste thing, it helps us conserve the environment. And, we all have to work together to do that, cause it Â’s not like it only ta kes one person thing. If one person has zero food waste, thatÂ’s great. But, everybody has to have zero food waste. I hadnÂ’t ever thought about that before not really. I wish we had done it again. That was such an awesome thing to have gotten zero waste! I donÂ’t know how we would do it at home or at school, but I guess if the teachers started it up at lunch that would be really cool cause th ere are a lot of lunches that get tossed. During the post-program interview, Pedro admitted that he had Â“tried to do zero waste at homeÂ” but the idea wasnÂ’t well-received by his fa mily, so he Â“would just try to have zero waste myself and not try to get my family to do it right now.Â” Judy thought that not wasting food at camp was Â“coolÂ” but that doing it outside of camp was going to be really tough to acco mplish, Â“We donÂ’t do pig posse at home or school, not really. But, we us ually, we have leftovers. We keep things in leftovers like all the time, if thereÂ’s enough. If thereÂ’s like an ounce we ju st like throw it away, but we try.Â” Zero food waste was also a topic of accomplishment for Joe and he was proud that his table had not thrown any food away since Day One. He then talked about the zero food waste and how it turned into an acco mplishment since he had returned home: Well, I hadnÂ’t thought about not wasting food or how much is really costs to make food for us everyday and where it comes fr om. That was rea lly interesting and funny pig posse too! I think about was ting food at home well sometimes, at least
143 more than I was before. I try to take a little at a time and then go back for more instead of a lot on my plate at once. I think it annoys my mom. She hates it when we get up from the table but she told me that she likes not th rowing food away so I think she is dealing with it O.K.. I donÂ’t recycle much so I think not wasting food is a good thing I can do now. I think that is a good idea. All four of these students embraced the concept of reducing their food waste and were quite proud of their accomplishment at cam p. They all talked about trying to reduce their waste when they returned home. It w ould be interesting to find out if this postprogram behavior persisted for any length of time. Losing modern day comforts Another dramatic accomplishment was the i ndividual realization that these students lost all of their modern day comforts during camp. This incident shaped the participantsÂ’ perceptions of the natural wo rld and shaped their awareness of actions in the natural world when they returned home. Joe laughed when he realized in his post-program interview that Â“Yeah, I think th at is the longest IÂ’ve gone wi thout Coke. And T.V. too!Â” Judy echoed that sentiment during her post pr ogram interview, Â“Wow, no T.V., that is something I didnÂ’t think I could do really, wo w.Â” Lucy had the most dramatic moment, however, when she realized on day four that she had been roughing it without any type of technology for an entire week. She surp rised herself when she realized it: It was so much fun and I learned so much stuff and what really surprised me was that is was 4 days without T.V., comp uter, phone, I-pods, and stuff and it was so much fun and I wish I could do it again. (long pause) That is the longest IÂ’ve ever gone without T.V., computers or anything lik e that. Usually I have never gone, um
144 (pause), a day without those th ings and I didnÂ’t even think about it really not at all! (long pause) I wish I could do it again! And, IÂ’m just surpri sed because I didnÂ’t think like I could go a like week without T.V. or computer, and I did. (pause) And, it was just so much fun, I di dnÂ’t even think about the T.V. or the computer while I was there. Lucy stopped talking several times as she wa s formulating these thoughts and was talking about her realization in an animated, excited manner. During her post-program interview, wh en asked if she spent less time on the computer and on the T.V. since returning fr om camp, Lucy replied that she had been catching up on T.V. and computer too but t hought she had been watching less T.V. and on the computer less since being back. Lucy summed up the importance of her accomplishments when she said, Â“If someone told me that IÂ’d not be missing T.V. at the end of the week IÂ’d say that they were crazy a nd I was just going to deal with it this week and then go back to school. This week ha s changed my life. Th at sounds crazy huh?Â” Picked up trash while canoeing The final shared accomplishment was when Joe and Pedro picked up trash while canoeing. This incident shaped their percep tions of the natural world. Both of them mentioned this event in passing during thei r day 3 interviews wh ile describing their canoeing trip, as explained by Joe: Â“Yeah, we were just st anding there because we were picking up trash on an island and then we got in and we started rowing and then this alligator was like right with us. It follo wed us.Â” Both Pedro and Joe were more concerned about the alligator than they were proud of all the trash they had picked up.
145 When they brought it up while looking at a picture during the postprogram interview, they were more proud of themselves. Pedro said: Well, it just seemed like a good thing to do. We had talked about how important it was to be good to the wate r during the Water World cla ss, so I figured that it couldnÂ’t hurt doinÂ’ that. I mean it wasnÂ’t a lot but it had to help right? The counselors seemed impressed that we di d but we didnÂ’t do it to impress anyone. Just for ourselves. Joe smiled when he said Â“yeah, it was just some thing we did. And I was glad we did, but we didnÂ’t plan on doing it, but I would do it agai n!Â” They actually picked up a half bag of trash while they were on the canoe trip. And the counselors mentioned that they were the first group to have done some thing like that at this location. Asserted individuality Joe had three individual accomplishments that were critical to his outdoor education experience, all of which were asso ciated with him asserting his individuality. All of these incidents influenced how he inte rpreted his experience in the natural world. During the post-program interview, he descri bed them as having a big voice, listening to yourself and not going along with the group. He talked about one challenge called the teeter-totter, which is an ove rsized relative of the playgr ound variety and is mis-weighted, so that it cannot balance w ithout group members placing them selves at various points on the boards. The group challenge is to balan ce the totter so that it does not touch the ground for five seconds. It is a difficult challenge to complete. As Joe told this story, he spoke loudly, with confidence, smiled and even made eye contact with me: Joe: Â“It was my idea and they listened to me!Â”
146 Shannon: Â“Wow, and so your idea worked?Â” Joe: Â“YeahÂ” Shannon: Â“So, what did that make you feel like when your idea worked?Â” Joe: Â“Uh, special. But, it was the first time that anyone listened to me. Yeah. I usually get forgotten and I donÂ’t make a lot of noise cause it isnÂ’t worth it. yeahÂ…like on the teeter thi ng that we had to balance and it would hit the ground well until then I just was in the group a nd didnÂ’t always help (half-laugh) yeah, well, its cause no one listens anyway but I said something then and they heard me and tried it and it made us finish the thi ng and balance it correctly and Syd said it was one of the fastest times ever! Yeah, I am a small kid and I felt like I had a big voice for the first time ever.Â” Shannon: Â“Do you still feel that way?Â” Joe: Â“Yeah, I mean I am still small, duh (laughs) but yeahÂ” Looking back, I noticed that Joe was talki ng out in his group more often and being listened to more consistently by his group memb ers after this experience which occurred on day two. During the post-program interview, he we nt on to tell me about learning about himself during camp too and how his big voice st ayed with him the rest of the week, until the memory campfire on the last evening. During the campfire, he decided not to talk when he got the talking stick because he decided that he would save his big voice for
147 Â“when it was really needed.Â” He did have a special realization wh en he talked about going along with the group: Â“Sometimes it is easier to go along with the group but this week I didnÂ’t always go along with the group an d that was good I think! You have to listen to yourself sometimes which I want to do now more even if no one else is listening to me.Â” This was a defining moment for Joe and his self concept was strengthened by his outdoor education experience accomplishments . Joe had found a new voice during the outdoor education program, one he hadnÂ’t found inside the traditional school setting. Finding a New Learning Style PedroÂ’s individual accomplishment centere d around his learning style or as he called it, learning my way. This incident influenced how he interpreted his experience in the natural world. I observed Pe dro telling a teacher he had no memory of learning about the water cycle back at school. When the te acher reminded him that they had studied it the year before, Pedro looked surprised and said Â“Oh. I just get it bett er out here.Â” Pedro said that he enjoyed the out door education experience Â‘bei ng different from regular school.Â” He admitted to liking school and that he was expected to Â“not get any CÂ’s.Â” But, he went on to explain, was often bored and Â“sometimes I can get in trouble for being a cut-up and I know it is when I am bored that I get in trouble.Â” He was quick to say that he hadnÂ’t been in trouble once during the w eek and he Â“even got an award for being good!Â” Pedro was awarded a certificate for being a good team leader at dinner on day two. He had clearly learned a lot about himself and his individual l earning style while at camp. For example, in his post-program interview, Pedro talked about realizing he was learning something during cla ss Â“I thought there would be more like learning like we have to do in schoolÂ…but I wasnÂ’t feeling that way, I just realized th at I knew stuff that I
148 didnÂ’t know beforeÂ… like learning in disgui se!Â” When asked why he thought that learning at Pathfinder was so different, he thought for a moment before saying: Oh cause they have to do things their wa y in school and getting wet isnÂ’t the way they do it. I mean it would be so cool to do that more often and let us learn about that kind of stuff our way instead of thei r way. IÂ’m not sure what my way is, just yet, I just know I had a lot of fun an d it was cool and I learned stuff without knowing I was learning. ThatÂ’s pretty cool. Pedro was already an outgoing person whose lif e centered on his frie nds and activities at school, but this program gave him the chance to focus on himself for perhaps the first time ever. Caring about having friends Caring about having friends was JudyÂ’s bigge st accomplishment of the camp trip. This incident defined how she interpreted he r experience in the natural world. She talked about Â“not having many friendsÂ” at the beginning of the camp experience, but I saw her talking with many classmates and she talked about friends in her post-program interview: Having friends. I think being out of school was such a good thing and it was fun to have a lot of people who w ould talk with me and hang out with me when they never would here. I mean I donÂ’t care, uh, I dunnoÂ…uh, cause then we had to work together the whole time, like no one is help ing you do stuff like here at school. But I could be myself and ya know I donÂ’t care but it was O.K. to not have to change to make friends. Maybe no one changed, I dunnoÂ…that is funny, hmmÂ…well , whatever, I donÂ’t care reallyÂ…(very long pause), um, well I guess I do care after all, huh?
149 This was a big breakthrough for Judy, and alt hough she still reminded me of Eeyore with her gloomy voice, I definitely saw her smile more and laugh more as camp progressed and when I visited her for the post program in terview than I had seen before. Judy, who had for so long had hidden herself behind th e cynical wall, was stepping out from behind the wall and emerging with a new outlook on herself and her friends. Summary of Critical Events Related to Accomplishments All four students mentioned zero food waste as being a significant shared accomplishment during their week at camp. This was also the only action that the students reported trying to cont inue once they returned home. Three participants were all surprised that they could go without their modern day comforts for the entire week at camp. Tw o of these participants couldnÂ’t remember having ever gone without T.V. or sodas for more than a day in their life. Two participants voluntarily picked up tr ash while on their canoe trip. Both of these students initiated this action on thei r own because they thought it was the right thing to do. The counselors were impressed by the amount of garbag e they collected and were quite proud of the students. Both of the students were surprised at the attention they received and didnÂ’t see their actions as si gnificant until the post-program interview. Although there were commonalities, each student identified very different individual accomplishments. Lucy learned that she could live without technology. Pedro was able to learn about himself in terms of his own individual lear ning style. Joe decided that he didnÂ’t always have to go along with the group to be successful and asserted his individuality. And Judy realized that she really did care about making and having friends as she stepped out from behind her cynical wall.
150 Participant Epilogue This section summarizes each participantsÂ’ overall experience as reported by them during their individu al interviews. Joe Â“You have to listen to yourself sometimes.Â” For Joe, this outdoor education program was about so much more than the outdoors. He came to camp as a timid boy w ho wouldnÂ’t speak above a whisper, didnÂ’t make eye contact, hunched and shuffled when he walked, and emer ged stronger, taller, and spoke with a voice instead of a whisper. JoeÂ’s experience on the challenge course started his transformation. He offered up a sugge stion and his peers listened to it, tried it, and when it worked, he was celebrated by his group. Joe said it made him feel Â“specialÂ” and that was when his Â“big voiceÂ” emerged for the first time. For the remainder of the week, Joe c ontinued his transformation through his experiences in the outdoors. He was very in terested in learning a bout trees and spent his free time teaching another student how to identi fy them. Joe felt Â“braveÂ” when he saw an alligator during the canoe trip and stopped canoeing to pick up litter along the way. Joe experienced frustrations with his new group of friends, but instead of reverting to his timid self, he spoke out and problem solved until, as a team they found a solution. JoeÂ’s timid side emerged again at the campfire, but he took the opportunity to speak about his new friends with resolve and determination. Joe found a big voice in the outdoor setting, where he had previously been silenced in the traditional classroom setting. Pedro Â“I liked not having walls around me.Â”
151 Pedro was a popular, talkativ e boy. His friends were fi rmly established and he was confident and comfortable around everyone . For Pedro, this outdoor education program enabled him to learn about the natural world as he learned a bout himself. Pedro was unable to define the concept of teamwor k, even though he used the word frequently. It wasnÂ’t until he was on the challenge cour se that he experienced teamwork and was then able to understand the concept behind the word. Pedro also chos e to be silent and listen to his peers, when his peers usually lis tened to him. This was a totally new and foreign action for him, and he admitted it was tough, but useful. During the Water World class, Pedro came to the realization that he had a different learning style, one that was not represented in his school classroom. He was excited when he realized that he Â“got itÂ” easier and learned more during the Water World class than he had in school. He was surpri sed to learn from his teacher that they had already had a unit on water and he didnÂ’t remember any of it. Pedro admitted to being bored in school, which would lead to him getti ng into trouble. However, he received an award while at camp and was proud to report that he hadnÂ’t gotten in trouble once. Pedro unselfishly picked up trash dur ing his canoe trip and didnÂ’t ask for praise or seek the spotlight for his actions, like he would normally do. He simply said Â“it seemed like the right thing to do.Â” Pedro enj oyed Â“learning in disguiseÂ” a nd learned a lot about both the natural world and himself during this program. Judy Â“Um, well I guess I do care after all.Â” JudyÂ’s outdoor education expe rience facilitated her stepping out from behind the cynical wall she had built around herself. J udy admitted to not having friends at school and was nervous about having to interact wi th her peers during the program. She spent
152 the entire week saying that sh e Â“didnÂ’t careÂ” about what her peers thought of her and she Â“didnÂ’t careÂ” about her lack of friends at sc hool. She had this wa ll around her to shield her from everyone she came into contact with, from friends to teachers to counselors. Due to the set-up of the program, Judy was forced to interact with her peers and her peers were forced to interact with her. Judy slow ly began to realize that she did care and did enjoy having friends to be with. Judy first briefly stepped from behind her wall on day one during the get-toknow-you games, when she was able to comple te a task that no one else in her group could do. She left the safety of her wall more frequently during the challenge course and found that her peers would listen to and tr y her ideas, and that they worked. She experienced frustrations with her new group of friends and hid behind her wall until her friends coaxed her back into the group. Judy was the hero of her Underground Railroad group when her unorthodox idea enabled her group to finish the game in a timely fashion, and stood in front of her wall while she explai ned the biology of a resu rrection fern to the entire sixthgrade. By the post-program interview, Judy had not entirely abandoned her cynical wall, but the structure and activities of the program had assisted Judy in finding success with her peers outside the wall. Lucy Â“This week has changed my life.Â” Lucy was honest when she said Â“we were out side all the time which I really liked, which surprised me!Â” She did not think that she would enjoy being at camp for a week at all. Lucy liked her comforts of home and admitted that she had never gone one day without using technology. This program was definitely pushing her outside her comfort zone and she struggled with it at first. LucyÂ’s definition of friends evolved to include
153 those she had previously excluded from her peer group when she had to room with a girl she didnÂ’t know beforehand, and be in a trav eling group that did not include any of her school friends. Lucy was also pushed out of her comfor t zone having to be outside everyday. Lucy carried a shirt everywhere with her so th at she would not get dirty and have to take another shower. She admitted to being scared of insects but she wasnÂ’t worried about alligators. By the end of the week, Lucy said that she felt more comfortable being in the outdoors, even though she still carried her shir t with her to sit on. Lucy embraced the challenges that being pushed outside of her co mfort zone presented to her, which enabled her to make new friends and gain a ne w appreciation of th e natural world. Chapter 5 includes a discussion and interpre tation of the data presented in this chapter by addressing the three research questions of this study. The implications of these conclusions are also discussed.
154 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to determin e how four participan ts in one outdoor education program interpreted their experi ence in the natural world, how participant engagement with an outdoor education progr am shaped their perception of the natural world, and how participant interpretation of an outdoor education program shaped their awareness of actions in the natural world when they returned home. Interviews conducted during and after the outdoor educa tion program were the primary sources of data used to obtain these i ndividual program interpreta tions. During the interview process, participants elaborated and refl ected on their outdoor education experience, resulting in four unique interpretations of one outdoor education program. This chapter discusses the findings from this study and th eir relation to releva nt outdoor education research. As a researcher engaged in he rmeneutical phenomenology, it is necessary to include a reflection session which ties the key fi ndings from the participants with the new understandings that emerged through the course of this study. The ch apter concludes with a discussion of implications for research and practice. Key Findings Research Question 1: How Do Outdoor E ducation Program Participants Interpret Their Experience in the Natural World? With regard to the first research questi on, the two most salient findings were that all participants reported having a very pos itive experience during their outdoor education program and that the classes that were ch allenging and promoted autonomy, especially
155 from adults, were considered most im portant. These findings are discussed independently in the following sections. A positive experience All four study participants reported having a very positive outdoor education experience. They used words such as Â“fun,Â” Â“cool,Â” Â“amazing,Â” Â“incredible,Â” and phrases such as Â“I wish I c ould do it over again!Â”, Â“I wi sh the week was longer!Â”, and Â“camp was awesome!Â” to describe their feelings towards the program. This finding is important because studies on young children and adolescents have veri fied that through regular positive outdoor experiences, an emoti onal attraction for nature can be developed that motivates and maintains environmentally protective behavior (Hartig, Kaiser, & Bowler, 2001; Kals & Ittner, 2003; Kals, Sc humacher, & Montada, 1999). Experiences that provide the appropriate place and allow pa rticipants the time to explore the natural world and just have fun are necessary for de veloping the emotional conviction needed for long term, systematic changes in behavior. There are additional benefits for children who have positive outdoor experiences. For example, Joe dealt with friends who bu llied him and stole his camera during the OE program. Malone and Tranter (2003) found that play in a natural environment reduces or eliminates bullying. Additionally, Moore (1996) found that children who played in nature had more positive feelings about each other and Wells (2003) reported that nature buffered the impact of life stress on children a nd helped them deal w ith adversity. These outcomes are quite significant and may have played a role in JoeÂ’s overall success dealing with the group of p eers who bullied him.
156 Challenge and autonomy The six classes that participants singled out as critical during their OE experience were the canoe trip, challenge course, U nderground Railroad, Memory Campfire, Water World, and The Beast. These classes were different from the other 10 classes they participated in during the program in that they were labeled as Â“very hardÂ” by participants (canoe trip, Challenge Course, and The Beast) or they were mostly independent from adult influences (canoe tr ip, Underground Railroad, Water World, Memory Campfire). Participants used words such as Â“tough,Â” Â“really hard,Â” Â“tricky,Â” and Â“exhaustingÂ” to describe these classes and said that a lthough they liked these cl asses, they wouldnÂ’t want to do some of them again. These cl asses are designed to be tough and that was frustrating for these participants. They had not encountered challenges such as these in their school classroom previously and a phras e heard on day one was Â“You want us to do what?Â” Once the participants realized that the adults were not going to give them the solutions to the challenges, the students were fo rced to rely on each other for solutions. This is an important finding because childre n at this age use nature to secure an identity apart from parents, the immediat e home, and other people, and establishing familiarity in nature provides opportuniti es for generating feelings of autonomy, independence, and self-sufficiency (Kellert, 2002). Bartlett (1996) also reported that outdoor environments are important to ch ildrenÂ’s development of independence and autonomy. As Erik Erikson (1968) suggested, middl e childhood marks the time when children are especially interested in making things , in demonstrating industry and competence, and in establishing a self separate and apar t from the continuous care and control of adults. While the students in this study enjoye d their freedom from adults, they also were
157 quite relieved when the adults were nearby to help them out on the canoe trip: Â“Well we needed help at the end but that was O. K.Â” These students found themselves at a crossroads between enjoying the challenge, wanting autonomy, and realizing that they still needed help from adults. The natural world provides an excellent "classroom" for developing autonomy. An outdoor environment in a small group setti ng provides an immediate and simplified environment. Participants must deal with ba sic issues like staying warm and dry, getting used to a new routine, and traveling from pl ace A to B. As a result the skills needed to Â“surviveÂ” are basic ones whic h yield immediate feedback. Fo r example, if students do not maneuver the canoe correctly, they tip ove r and get wet. Thus, OE programs like Pathfinder expose children to an environment where new skills must be learned quickly. The fact that all of these challenges occur outside helps link those good feelings that come from overcoming a challenge with pos itive feelings about the environment. Research Question 2: How Does Part icipant Engagement with an Outdoor Education Program Shape Their Perception of the Natural World? Regarding the second research question, th ree salient findings were identified. First, although friends were deemed as impor tant, nature became mo re important as the week progressed. Second, partic ipants all said their comfort level increased at the conclusion of the outdoor education program, bu t their actions showed differently. Third, all four participants perceived nature as be ing Â“out there.Â” These findings are discussed independently in the following sections. Nature increased in importance It was not surprising that the participants c onsidered their friends to be an important aspect of their outdoor education progra m experience. Previous research has
158 demonstrated that peers dominate the so cial context of adolescence (Hartup, 1983; Hussong, 2000). Although relationships with parents determine, in large measure, childrenÂ’s longer-term preferences, attitudes, and, values during adolescence it is often relationships with friends that preoccupy the thoughts of young people as they grow up (Hussong, 2000). Adolescents spend twice as much time with peers as they do with parents or other adults and adolescent peer groups function with much less adult supervision than do childhood p eer groups (Hussong, 2000). However, the results of this present st udy are unique in that the participantsÂ’ perception of their friendsÂ’ importance decrea sed during the program week. This refutes Haluza-DelayÂ’s (1999) findings that as the OE program he studied progressed, participants focused more on the social natu re of the group and the experience of the natural setting declined in its importance. The data in the current study suggest, however, that the natural world increased in im portance as the outdoor education program progressed. For example, on day one, all four participants took almost all of their pictures of their friends, and did not talk about the natura l world in the end of day interviews. By day two, participants reported taking more pict ures whose focus was the natural world. Beginning on day two participants also discu ssed the natural world more frequently with comments such as, Â“We spent time down at the river,Â” Â“I liked walking through the trees,Â” and Â“The ant lions were cool!Â” The frequency of these types of comments continued to increase throughout the program week, whereas pi ctures and stories related to friends remained steady (for Joe and J udy) and decreased sli ghtly (for Lucy and Pedro). The fact that Judy and Joe were expe riencing a great deal of social flux during the
159 program week and still deemed nature as importa nt is a testament to the fact that nature did indeed increase in its importance for these participants. The Â“time-outÂ” theory proposed by Kaplan and Kaplan (2002), suggests that during adolescence, a brief shift to a lowered nature preference occurs. During this time period the Kaplans suggest that nature activities that allow particip ants to exercise autonomy, make choices, and acquire and display comp etence are more likely to qualify as meaningful to an adolescent. The particip ants in this study clea rly had strong social orientations, which did not vanish during the we ek. Yet, they all expressed an idea of the natural world as being more important as the week progressed. Since the Pathfinder program is designed to facilitate individua l autonomy, encourage making choices without adult influence, and provide opportunities to acquire and di splay new competencies, the study participants were able to have a meaningful experience. Reported comfort level in the outdoors increased At the beginning of the outdoor educati on program, two of the participants (Judy and Lucy) expressed negative feelings about co ming into contact with insects. By the end of the program, both participantsÂ’ feelings, while not overwhelmingly positive, had softened somewhat. As Judy expressed, Â“I am O.K. sharing my world with them [insects].Â” Although children are naturally curious about the living world around them, their learning is in part influenced by the personal ideas and understandings they construct about the world. During the OE pr ogram no overt attempt was made to change the ideas these participants had about insects, so the fact that their descriptions of encounters with insects was somewhat more positive is noteworthy. Follow up interviews would be required to determine if these participantsÂ’ more positive feelings towards insects remained positive or if they eventually returned to being negative.
160 Although both Lucy and Judy talked about feeling more comfortable in the outdoors, their observed behavior s conflicted with their self-re ports. Judy said she was Â“O.K.Â” with Â“bugs outside,Â” but during our da y four interview, she continually stomped on a line of sugar ants on the pavement as we spoke. She defended her actions by saying that the ants had Â“come too closeÂ” to her pe rsonal space. Similarly, Lucy talked about feeling more at home when she was outside, yet she continued to carry an extra longsleeved shirt with her so that she wouldnÂ’t have to Â“sit on th e grass or in the dirtÂ” during class time. According to Maslow (1954), physical need s (basic needs such as health and security) must be addressed before social and personal development occurs. Adjusting to the demands of outdoor activities and living can be physically taxing. Exposure to the elements, unfamiliar settings, rustic living, a nd increased physical activity can lead to exhaustion and fatigue, increasing both physic al and mental stress (Maslow 1954). These newly introduced stressors, al so called regressive forces, could have temporarily pushed the study participants further down MaslowÂ’s on hierarchy. This would have students functioning from a lower leve l on the hierarchy rendering th em incapable of moving to the higher levels until there lower levels were again satisfied. For example, Pedro talked about Â“being more tired than at football camp Â” after dinner on day one, Lucy told me that she did Â“not like the showers here, they are not like mine [at home],Â” and Joe sighed Â“I havenÂ’t walked this much in forever.Â” Con tinuing with this application of MaslowÂ’s theory when the study participants began thei r Pathfinder program, they are reduced to the lowest level on the hierarchy and had to first spend time meeting their basic survival
161 needs before they could focus on higher-level issues such as lear ning about the natural world. Clearly, the Pathfinder program is designed to be safe and immediately satisfy the most basic physical needs of participants, such as food, wa ter, and shelter. However, some of the study participants like Lucy and Judy viewed the outdoors as something so different from what they were used to that th ey spent the entire week trying to re-gain the homeostasis that they were used to in th eir everyday lives at home. This included seemingly minor adjustments such as accepting getting dirty or being hot or wet. Participants were actively encouraged to expl ore their surroundings and since most of the classes were held outdoors, th e class setting was much diffe rent than what the students were used to. Getting dirty, hot, and we t was a natural by-product of the outdoor education program, and managing personal hygie ne was something participants had to adapt to immediately upon arriving at camp. Lucy talked about Â“feeling goodÂ” when she was outside by the end of the week and for he r, that meant carefully spreading out her shirt each and every time she sat down outside of the dining hall. Nature as Â“out thereÂ” Interestingly, all four of this studyÂ’s participants viewed the natural world as something removed from them and out ther e, a finding that mirrors Haluza-DelayÂ’s findings (2001) from interviews of 18 teen s who completed a three-week backpacking program. Lucy described the Â“out thereÂ” when she discussed the fact that she wouldnÂ’t be able to see nature again like she had seen it during th e program week, that it was different and beautiful and not something she ha d seen at home before. Judy talked about the trees and saw them as part of the natura l world at camp, but viewed the trees in her back yard at home as Â“bad, Â‘cause they fell on our house during the hurricanes.Â” During
162 post-program interviews, all four participants stated that they wished they had taken more pictures of the natural world, for example, Â“ it [the natural world] is important to me, I wished I had taken more pictures of it [the natural world]. The participants felt that if a photograph was not taken, the moment would be lost forever. In his study, Haluza-Delay suggesed that th is construction of nature as something removed from everyday life might result in le ss environmental concern from those who perceive nature in this way. Measuring pa rticipantÂ’s long-term environmental concern would be another avenue of follow-up with these participants for future study. Research Question 3: How Does Part icipant Interpretation of an Outdoor Education Program Shape Their Awareness of Actions in the Natural World When They Return Home? Regarding the third research question, the tw o most salient findings related to this research question were that pa rents were seen as barriers to spending more time outside and that zero food waste action plans were the most common action identified by participants. Both of these findings are discu ssed independently in th e following sections. Parents as barriers During our pre-program interv iews, Pedro was the only student who told me that he regularly spent any time outside and that was only for playing football. All four students spent the majority of their free time play ing video games or wa tching television, not playing outside. During our post-program in terviews, the concept of their parents as barriers to outdoor activity surf aced with all four participants . I talked with all four students about this concept, and they were al l quite matter-of-fact when discussing it. Joe told me that Â“my mom wants to be able to s ee meÂ” and that means that they are expected to play inside.
163 These findings mirror the family ecology lite rature, which proposes that a family's response to demands and challenges from a community environment may include keeping children inside and restricting child activity (B lakely, 1994). None of the students in this study discussed living in a tough or violent ne ighborhood and none cited danger as a reason for not playing outside at home. However, all four participants in this study do reside within a large metropolitan ar ea, so that may account for their parentsÂ’ heightened sense of fear fo r their childrenÂ’s safety. All four participants said that they want ed to spend more tim e outside during their post-program interviews. Lucy said that she and her sister talked their mom into letting them play outside a few times and Joe told me that he had gone fishing with his dad, Â“cause I wanted to be outside and I knew he would go fishing.Â” These actions are what Perez and Hart (1980) termed child-envir onment-parent negotiations. In these negotiations, children's access to their nei ghborhoods is ultimately dependent upon a system of checks and balances between parent and child. All four participants entered into these negotiations after completing the outdoor education program. It would be intriguing to find out if these negations persisted over a long period of time and if they resulted in these individuals being able to spend increased amounts of time outside. Zero Food Waste action plan At the conclusion of this outdoor educati on program, all the participants mentioned one planned action, continuing the idea of zero food waste wh en they went home. During our follow-up interview one week post-program, all four of the study participants talked about successfully continuing the concept of zero food wast e upon returning home. Even Joe, whose family was not on board with hi s attempt to not waste food said he was committed to trying to make it work Â“for a wh ile.Â” Pedro said his parents were on board,
164 but not his little brother, Judy said her brot her was trying but not he r parents, and Lucy said her whole family was actively involved in trying to attain zero food waste. People care for the natural world for many r easons, but the best motivation is to act in the public good and knowing how to do it. Much of our society is urban based, sedentary, and has become increasingly withdr awn from community life. The concept of community itself has become so varied that it no longer conveys meaning in a traditional sense. Ideals of community often imply an individual and collectiv e concern for others along with a sense of self as a contributi ng member (Ridley, 1997). They can include civic pride, or duty towards the physical spa ces in which we work, play, live, and learn (Putnam, 2000). Traditionally the inclusion of natural spaces has also been part of our understanding for the overall health of a community (H ough, 1990). Community counts in terms of environmental quality and can turn peer pressure into a positive force impacting the most basic community, natural spaces. Crompton and Sellar (1981) maintained that outdoor education programs provide a motivating learning environment if they are of an adequate duration, and research has shown that one-time experiences are usually not as important as exposure occurring periodically over the early years of life (Gillet, Thom as, Skok, & McLaughlin, 1991; Haluza-Delay, 2001; Newhouse, 1990). Howeve r, a 1990 study confirmed that although one-day and multi-day residential programs caused significant knowledge gains with participants, only the multi-day residential outdoor education programs had any effect on environmental behavior (Bogner, 1990). Environmental learning cannot take place in a social vacuum. Â“The environment is something linked to us; it is not a reality se parate from ourselves, and therefore it has to
165 be understood as a social constructÂ” (Bogner, 1990, p. 27). In the case of zero food waste, there was a social climate established within the sixth grade that it was vital and, more importantly, cool to not waste your food. It took some time to establish this climate at camp and at the post-program interview, th is action of zero food waste seemed to have followed the students back to their school. Judy told me about a group of sixth graders Â“going to the principal about starting a zero food wast eÂ…cause do you know how much food gets thrown away here, yuk!Â” The community that the students had created at camp focused around seemed to have returned to school with them. However, since attitudes and behaviors are inevitably slow to change, follow-up at a la ter date in this area would provide more data about each individualÂ’s caring for the natural environment. Hermeneutic Phenomenology Revisited This section is included to round out th e hermeneutic phenomenological process. Chapter 4 presented my pre-understandings as they emerged from the participantsÂ’ stories. Up to this point, Chapter 5 has presented an inte rpretation of these understandings. The process of interpreta tion involves entering in to the hermeneutic circle. The hermeneutic circle is not a method for uncovering meaning, but a metaphorical way of conceptualizing understa nding and the process of interpretation. When one enters into the ci rcle, it is not without the bringing of culture, gender, understandings, experiences, prejudices, an ticipations, expectations, and changing biological structure, which in the end determ ines what can be received and brought forth as understanding (Kvale, 1996). The hermeneutic circle is a constant return between the whole and the part. Being in the circle is disciplined ye t creative, rigorous yet expans ive (Kvale, 1996). There is an inherent process of immersi on in, and dynamic and evolving in teraction with, the data as
166 a whole and the data in part, through exte nsive readings, re-readings, reflection, and writing (Schwandt, 2001). In this process there is a focus on recognizing the particular, isolating understandings, dial oguing with others about interpretations , making explicit the implicit, and, eventually finding language to describe the findings. The following section focuses on my understandings as they have em erged from the participantsÂ’ experiences and integrate with the literature. New Understandings John Burroughs (1914) cautioned that knowle dge without love will not stick, but if love comes first, knowledge is sure to fo llow. Often, outdoor education programs try to impart knowledge and responsibility before children have been allowed to develop a loving relationship with the earth (Sobel, 1995) . Since children's emotional and affective values of nature develop earlier than thei r abstract, logical and rational perspectives (Kellert, 2002), we need to al low children to develop biophilia , their love for the Earth, before we ask them to save it. The more pe rsonal children's experi ence with nature, the more environmentally concer ned and active children are lik ely to become (Bunting & Cousins, 1985; Harvey, 1989). All four participants in this study were selected du e to their lack of prior experience in the natural world, and, according to Pathfinder staff, over 80% of their participants have little or no prior experience in the natura l world before participating in a Pathfinder program. In order to offset this lack of experience, allowances need to be made for adolescents to have the time to make meaningful emotional connections to the natural world. Without empathy for the natu ral environment, it is difficult to later attempt to suggest an ethic which could lead to environmentally protective behavior. The
167 power of individual actions can result in widespread change, but first it requires emotional conviction. Increasingly, youth are becoming disconnected from the natural world. Ideas about how relationships might be established betw een self and nature are often difficult to conceptualize living within a landscape dom inated by urban sprawl. I believe that outdoor education experiences pr ovide learning opportunities that lead, over time, to an affirmation of self that is inclusive of society and the environment. As evidenced by JudyÂ’s experience in this st udy, outdoor experiences can break down social hierarchies that are often barriers to l earning within the school setting (Lieberman & Hoody, 1998). Outdoor education is recognized as prom oting the development of self-concept, interpersonal skills, and self -regulation (Csikszentmihyi, 1991; Neill, 2002). Residential camp programs have been shown to devel op strong links between youth and community (Bialeschki, Krehbiel, & Hende rson, 2002). Most importantly, an opportunity to reside in a nature setting can make for a greater appreciation and unders tanding when learning about the natural world a nd natural processes. The most serious long-term threat facing th e world is the danger that human actions are producing irreversible and harmful cha nges to the environmental conditions that support life on Earth. If this problem is not overcome, there may be no viable world for our descendants to inhabit. Enormous change s in human lifestyles a nd cultural practices may be required to reach the goal of a sustai nable level of impact on the environment. These students took a small step toward that by their adoption of zer o food waste. Each student had his/her own individu al strategy for connecting to the natural world during this OE program. Even thought she kept killing insects, Judy found a c onnection with plants,
168 JoeÂ’s connection was with trees, Pedro expr essed a connection when he learned about water, and LucyÂ’s connection came in the form of disconnecting with technology. After observing and listening to these students, I realized that how they defined their connection to the natural world was less important than the fact that they actually connect with the natural world on a level which is important to them. In developing this connection to the natural world through outdoor education, a more collaborative approach with other prof essional fields is needed. Outdoor education, outdoor recreation, environmenta l education, and experiential education share common ground--the values of respect, social responsibility, self -actualization, justice, and freedom for all living beings and the earth. Conducting additional long-term participant-focused rese arch would provide much needed documentation of the success of outdoor education in developing a connection to the natural world. The majority of the results in this study would not have been captured in a paper and pencil measure of this OE program. For this group of participants, teaching in the natural world was a more important tool than teaching about the natural world. Each student took a new piece of lear ning home with them related to the natural world, but it was their being out in the natu ral world that facilitated this learning independent from the classes. More experien ces in natural world are essential to opening students up to the vast amount of c ontent related to the natural world. And finally I come back to the participantsÂ’ it . Each participant had a different experience in the OE program but the overall essence was that of safety. The campfire is the perfect example of this safety elemen t that was present during the OE program. Students and teachers alike were open and honest with each other and expressed
169 themselves accordingly. The darkness circled the campfire circle like a blanket and the fire burned brilliantly. In a situation that tw o participants had previously admitted scared them (the darkness), there was no fear. In stead, there was openness, acceptance, and a comradery which had been growing throughout the week and had blossomed the final evening of camp. We, as educators, need to e ndeavor to create this feeling of safety and security with our students and keep that campf ire burning in them so that they feel safe and able to fully participate in the lessons pr esented to them. For those who have had the opportunity to participate, outdoor education has made a positive difference. As an outdoor educator, the greatest cha llenge is to continue to cr eate better and more powerful interactive activities that a ffect participants in the pl aces where they live. As a researcher, the greatest challenge is to conti nue to listen to the participants and determine what these interactive activities need to be. Interestingly, the importance of the socioc ultural context in an informal learning setting such as Pathfinder is emphasized in Falk and DierkingÂ’s Contextual Model of Learning (2001). I was unfamiliar with this model, but upon reading it, found it to address this situation in a highly relevant manner. This model suggests that the sociocultural context as we ll as the context of persona l experience and the physical environment all interact to contribute to the learnerÂ’s experi ence. Although the researchers applied this model to museum vi sitors, as I expand and continue on this research track, I will apply this model to outdoor education, since the model involves more than just the intellect of an individual; it includes his or her emotions or feelings as well.
170 Implications for Practice The description of an outdoor education program presented through this research has shed light on what experiences are important to a group of OE participants. In light of these findings, it is important for OE program di rectors and facilitators not to rely solely on quantitative measures to determine program outcomes. To truly measure the quality of experiences being provided, OE programs should view participants as capable of defining their OE experience in depth. OE program directors and facilitators should actually seek input from partic ipants regularly to ensure th at their needs are being met. This study has demonstrated that outdoor e ducation programs, such as Pathfinder, are special experiences. Howeve r, not all adolescents have the opportunity to participate in multi-day programs such as Pathfinder. This study provides implications for programs that students participate in more frequently, specifically: schools, af ter school programs, and programs in nonformal educational settin gs (e.g., zoos, aquariums, and museums). Classroom Educators Teachers, pre-service educators, and ot her education professionals can use the results of this study to develop outdoor le arning experiences that promote social and personal skills, knowledge of the environmen t and associated issues, and encourage autonomy. Suggestions as reported by the par ticipants include: learning outdoors, using small groups, embracing the social side of middle school, and allowing time to complete challenges without adult interferen ce. Specifically teachers should: Give students opportunities to develop a personal connection with nature. We protect what we care about, and we care about what we know well. If students are encouraged to explore the natural world Â— to learn about local plants and animals, to observe and anticipate seas onal patterns, to get their feet wet in local rivers Â— they are more likely to develop a lifelong l ove of nature that will translate into a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship.
171 Provide and encourage Â“hands-onÂ” learni ng. The benefits of hands-on learning are widely acknowledged among educators, and during the past 20 years brain research has underscored its importance. Learning is a function of experience and the best education is one that is sensory-rich, em otionally engaging, and linked to the real world. Be facilitators and co-learners. The teacherÂ’s role is to fa cilitate inquiry and provide opportunities for learning, not to provide th e Â“answers.Â” Teachers do not need to be experts to teach in the outdoors. As co-l earners alongside their students, teachers both model and share in the joy of learning. This mirrors the recommendations found in the National Middle School Association 2003 report Â“This We Believe: Su ccessful Schools for Young Adolescents,Â” which identified several characteristics of e ducation that successfully meets the special learning needs of this age group. They in clude opportunities fo r active leadership; partnerships between schools and communities; curriculum that is relevant, integrative, exploratory, and developmentally appropriate; and the use of multiple learning strategies and interdisciplinary team t eaching. The participants in this study corroborate these recommendations. After-school Programs Today, more than 28 million school-age children have parents who work outside the home and an estimated 10 to 15 million "latch-key children" return to an empty home after school (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). In respon se to this pressing concern, many communities have created after-school programs to k eep children and youth out of trouble and engaged in activities that help th em learn. Nearly 100% of people polled in a recent survey agreed that it is important for ch ildren to have an after-school program that helps them develop academic and social skil ls in a safe and caring environment (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).
172 While both schools and after-school program s serve students, many kids who feel disenfranchised at school blo ssom in after-school settings. Real learning can happen in a setting where kids feel less intimidated or more comfortable than they do in a formal classroom. The ultimate goal is that their su ccess in an informal setting can lead to greater confidence in the formal classroom. Findings from this study can benefit those involved in these after-school programs as well. After-school programs offer unique opport unities for educators to share outdoor resources and reach out to groups of students that may not ordinarily have access to OE. The pressure currently being placed on classroom teachers to improve studentsÂ’ performance on standardized tests often make s it difficult to integrate hands-on learning into the curriculum. In contrast, the conten t of after-school programs is flexible and can readily include OE activities that help stude nts get to know their community, peers, and the natural world around them. The small class size makes hands-on and exploratory learning possible. By providing opportunities for students to face and overcome challenges, learn group living skills, and unders tand the way the natural worl d works, an after-school program supplements the academic rigors faced by the individual student. An afterschool program also allows students to break out of their tradi tional classroom peer groups which, as evidenced by the students in this study, facilitates personal growth and individuality. A program usi ng findings from this study coul d broaden the education of students by fostering their self-awareness, exposing them to new environments and challenges while providing im portant leadership opportuniti es that they might not otherwise get in the traditi onal school classroom. Also, si nce parents view after-school
173 programs as a safe place for their children, more frequent experiences in the natural world during the after-school program may give parents a more positiv e and safe view of the natural world, which in tu rn could transfer to increa sed time spent outdoors at home. Nonformal Education For those involved in the nonformal educat ional setting, this study also provides useful information. Typically nonformal settin gs provide day-long experiences for their participants and use hands-on experiences. Th ese day-long field trip s are more accessible for the average student and provide contact with the natural world that these students would not otherwise have. The commonplace takes on different meanings in the nonformal setting and designing ex periences that give particip ants a positive experience in the outdoors is often the focus. While positive experiences are of vital importance, educators involved in nonformal programming at places such as zoos, museums, and aquariums, should strive to promote handson and exploratory lear ning, incorporate an element of challenge into their lessons wh enever possible, and allow students the opportunity to safely explore on thei r own without adult interference. Conservation is now a significant theme in nonformal education. It is commonly incorporated in programs on vanishing species as well as in a variety of other ways in increasing public environmental awarene ss. One important means that nonformal educators can use in increasing public apprecia tion of and respect for nature is by giving visitors a more personal experience th rough small group interaction. Developing the connections between the general public and the natural world with small group, hands-on activities can be an effective means of lear ning for adults and child ren and can encourage families to learn together.
174 Implications for Research "Childhood has its own way of seeing, thi nking and feeling and nothing is more foolish than to try to substitute ours for theirs." Jean Jacques Rousseau This description of an outdoor educati on program presented through this research has shed light on the programÂ’s essential components through the eyes of the participants Although this study has given voice to particip ants in a more in depth manner, future research is warranted. This study reflects the perceptions of four participants from one four-day outdoor education program. It is unlik ely that one study of f our participants will have a significant impact on how outdoor e ducation experiences are viewed in the educational community. Future participant-based research should be conducted that incl udes larger sample sizes, participants of other ethnicities, a nd students from different locations. Future research should also be conducted that fo llows up on participan tÂ’s specific long-term environmental concerns, to find out if their se lf-reported action-orient ed behavior (in this case adopting Zero Food Waste) pe rsists over time. Further res earch is also warranted to discover if time spent outside increased over time, and how the parents of participants viewed their role in either promoting or discouraging outside pla y. Interviewing these students again after a longer period of time could increase our knowledge of how these critical incidents persisted ove r time, and if other incidents that did not surface during the program surfaced as important to particip ants long after the program ended. Since the analysis methods for the current research project may have influenced the understanding of the outdoor education progr am, future research should be conducted that employs different analysis procedures to determine if different results might be
175 found. Of specific interest is th e ability to capture and descri be the uniqueness of each of the studentÂ’s descriptions of their outdoor education program experience. Davidson wrote that the Â“value and mean ing of outdoor educa tion cannot fully be measured by outcomes or scores increased. Outdoor educators may find it difficult to feel that they are getting anywhere. Howeve r learning comes by degrees, as the gradual accumulation of experience helps to shift perc eptions and change previous behaviors and assumptions. The benefits of this may not su rface until the moment is right-which is not necessarily when the research ers are around with measuring r ods or when the teacher is taking noteÂ” (2001, p. 19). We, as researchers and practitioners, have to be willing to invest time in these programs and their resultant outcomes. By including participantsÂ’ voices in the description of an outdoor education program, we can broaden the perspective used to define outdoor edu cation experiences. Th is increases our understanding of how programs are interpreted and internalized by participants, thus increasing our ability to provide more target ed opportunities for all program participants.
176 APPENDIX A PATHFINDER OUTDOOR EDUCATION DAILY SCHEDULE 7:30am Wake up & clean up 8:30am Breakfast 9:30am Classes* 10:45am Classes 12:30pm Lunch 1:15pm Classes 2:30pm Classes* 4:15pm Sports/Swimming/Free activity time 6:00pm Dinner 7:15pm Evening Program/Class** 10:00pm Program/Class Ends 10:30pm Lights out *Depending on the program chosen by the school, classes can be from 90 minutes to 180 minutes in length. Therefore, participants can have two long block classes or four short block classes each day. **Schools can choose to have a long block cl ass in the evening, a long campfire, or a combination short block class and campfire . The latter option is the most popular.
177 APPENDIX B PATHFINDER CURRICULUM CHOICES A ND DESCRIPTIONS OF SPECIFIC CLASSES PRESENTED APRIL 25Â–28, 2005 Complete list of Classes Challenges The Beast Challenge Course Diverse Universe Ethical Decision Making Eye Opener FeudÂ’s Folly High Ropes Course Incredible Journey I Incredible Journey II Incredible Journey III The Odyssey Venture Out What Did You Say? Creative Arts Nature Art Poetry In Nature Writing Origin Myths Culture/History Drums as Language Florida Country Impressions of Yesterday Native American Life Pioneer Life Fair Rafa Rafa Underground Railroad Environmental Issues DeveloperÂ’s Dilemma Earth Defenders Project Planet Earth Scavenger Hunt Zero Food Waste Natural Science Avian Adventure Enchanted Forest Estuarine Ecosystems Fossil Fever Life Unchained Reptile Review Tree-mendous Vital Signs Water World Outdoor Living BuckyÂ’s Bungalo Canoeing Firequest Mission Impossible ExplorerÂ’s Orienteering Orienteering Outdoor Living Skills Outdoor Gourmet
178 Evening Programs Campfire & SÂ’mores Challenge Games Earth Defenders Glow in the Dark Scavenger Hunt Gold Rush The Great Escape Memory Campfire Night Hike PiratesÂ’ Plunder Reptile Review Round Auction Solo Walk Square Dance Tribal Council Trust Walk Underground Railroad CLASSES TAUGHT APRIL 25-28, 2005 THE BEAST Boost skills of observation, listening, and communication while your team tries to accurately replicate a pre-constr ucted "beast" made of toys or clay. The catch? Only one team member actually sees th e beast even though all team members' roles contribute to the solution. CANOE EXPLORER Practice cooperation and communication as t eams of two or three canoe while learning about the environment and each other. Each site offers a unique paddling opportunity! CHALLENGE COURSE Tackle a series of physical, mental, and em otional challenges (with safety rules and facilitator monitoring) in small groups that will increase iden tification of group strengths, practice group problem-solving, and develop leadership as well as collaboration. DRUMS AS LANGUAGE Play with African, AfroÂ–Cuban, and Native Amer ican drums and learn how they are used as a method of communication. Many percus sion instruments are demonstrated as participants find their own percussive voi ce and learn to communicate as a team. EYE OPENER An energetic opening that combines an or ientation along with small and wholeÂ–group activities that set the tone for your program. Participan ts create a foundation to work cooperatively as well as learn importa nt safety and site information. FIRE QUEST Participants cooperate in small groups to build their own contro lled campfires after learning about fire safety, the fire tr iangle, and low-impact techniques. FLORIDA COUNTRY Cooperation and teamwork are tested as partic ipant "families" are challenged to Â“surviveÂ” in this re-creation of Florid a pioneer life in the mid-1800Â’s. Time is precious as families try to get all the necessiti es of life through mock hunti ng, trading, staking land, and negotiating with the sometimes shady characters they meet.
179 GLOW IN THE DARK SCAVENGER HUNT Follow clues to find all your teamÂ’s glow-i n-the-dark mascots scattered throughout the site. Teams will need to be clever, coordina ted and cooperative to solve all these riddles in time! INCREDIBLE JOURNEY Journey as a group through a series of initia tives where you'll be challenged to use the skills necessary to work as a team. Each pe rson in the group will be vital and responsible for potentially incredible outcomes. Progressi ve levels provide for harder challenges and may be as complex as a Challenge Course. MEMORY CAMPFIRE Close with a campfire that solidifies toge therness, fellowship and powerful memories on the final night. Relax on benches surrounding a large communal fire as each member of your group adds a stick to the campfire while relating a memorable experience from your program. ZERO FOOD WASTE Improve health and environmental awarene ss at meals through dial ogue about choices to make to reduce food waste. Keep track duri ng your stay to watch the improvement! PIG POSSE Ham it up! To help encourage participants to lower their food waste, they can dress as the Pig Posse to weigh the wasted food, perform skits about food waste, and then tell pig jokes if the waste decreases. RAFA' RAFA' Experience the issues surroundi ng cultural differences and cu ltural sensitivity through a role play of fictitious cultures. Watch and interpret the cultures, discuss differences and similarities, and identify the source s and pitfalls of stereotypes. TRIBAL COUNCIL Experience the complex decision-making requir ed in this re-creation of a late 1800Â’s Native American tribal council th at is faced with a treaty agreement and must cast a vote for a decision that has profound historical impact. UNDERGROUND RAILROAD In small groups, participants are runaway slaves and conductors who attempt to reach safe houses and Jubilee along a simulate d Underground Railroad. Experience the outdoors at night while working together in groups to gain insights about slavery and historical events in a tr uly unforgettable program. WATER WORLD Use field instruments to study water quality in cluding salinity, temper ature, and turbidity, while identifying organisms that live in wate r. Each site offers a unique opportunity either in a river, pond or lake, wher e concepts are practiced and applied.
180 APPENDIX C CAMP MAP
181 APPENDIX D EXPERIENCES IN THE NATUR AL WORLD QUESTIONNAIRE Name_____________________________________ Date_____________ There are 10 questions for you to answer on this sheet. There are NO right or wrong answers to the questions and you will NOT be given a grade for answering these questions. Please use your best handwriting! It is OK to write on the back of this paper. Thank you! 1. Have you ever attended a program with Pathfinder Outdoor Education? ________ 2. Have you attended another outdoor education program that was not Pathfinder?_____ If you answered Â“yesÂ”, please tell when and where? How long was this program? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 3. Did you attend a summer camp this past summer? _______ If you answered Â“yesÂ”, please tell wher e was the camp? How long was the camp? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 4. How many times have you gone camping with your family in one year? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 5. How many times have you gone camping wit hout your family in the past year? ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 6. Give some examples of movies or TV programs you watch with your family. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 7. Have you spent time in school classes talking about the environment? _________ If you answered Â“yesÂ”, please tell wh ich classes? What topics have you discussed?________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
182 8. How many times have you read books or magazines about nature, the outdoors, or the environment this year? __________________________________________ Please name the books or magazines have you read about nature, the outdoors, or the environment? __________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ 9. Do you ever talk about the e nvironment with your family? ________________ If you answered Â“yesÂ” please te ll me what you talk about? ________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 10. Do you ever talk about the e nvironment with your friends? __________________ If you answered Â“yesÂ” please te ll me what you talk about? __________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
183 APPENDIX E INTERVIEW GUIDES All interviews were semi-structured and open-ended. A. Pre-Program Interview Guide: 1) What does the word outdoors mean to you? 2) What kinds of things do you enjoy doing outdoors? 3) What do you like to do in your free -time? Where do you play or hang-out? 4) Participants were then asked to elaborat e on each of their answ ers on the questionnaire (Appendix D). B. Daily End of Day Interview Guide: 1) How many pictures did you take today? 2) What was your favorite pictur e you remember taking? Why? 3) Was there a picture you wish you had b een able to take? What was it? Why? 4) What did you enjoy most about your experience today? Why? 5) What did you enjoy least about your experience today? Why? 6) Did you take all the pictures yourself or did someone else take pictures with your camera too? C. Post-Program Interview Guide: 1) Did you have a good week? Why or why not? 2) Did you like taking pictures? Why or why not? 3) Why did you choose these two pictures to represent your Pathfinder outdoor education program experience? 4) What do these pictures remind you of? 5) Why did you choose these two pictures to represent your thoughts about the natural world? 6) What do these pictures remind you of? 7) How do these two pictures represent how you care for the natural world at home? Why? 8) Why did you choose this last picture as very important? 9) What else would you like to add about your pictures? 10) What else would you like to add about your week with Pathfinder outdoor education?
184 APPENDIX F OUTDOOR EDUCATION PROGRAM SCHEDULE Day 1 April 25, 2005 Participant Activities 10:00am Arrival, unpack, meet at Pavilion, pick up first camera 10:45am Incredible Journey 12:15pm Break 12:30pm Lunch 1:30pm Challenge Course 4:00pm Free activity time 6:00pm Dinner 6:30pm End of Day Interviews 6:40pm End of Day Interviews 6:50pm End of Day Interviews 7:00pm End of Day Interviews 7:15pm Glow in the Dark Hunt 10:00pm Program Day Ends OI observed students and took notes during classes. POI observed students, took notes, and also participated in the class with them Researcher Activities Meet with students, hand out cameras O Elaborate and compile notes O/PO O Elaborate and compile notes O/PO Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes O Compile and elaborate on notes, interview notes for the day.
185 Day 2 April 26, 2005 Participant Activities 7:30am Wake Up 8:30am Breakfast. Hand in first camera, pick up second camera 9:30am Water World 10:35am Break 10:45am Rafa Rafa 12:15pm Break 12:30pm Lunch 1:30pm Native American Life 4:00pm Free activity time 6:00pm Dinner 6:30pm End of Day Interviews 6:40pm End of Day Interviews 6:50pm End of Day Interviews 7:00pm End of Day Interviews 7:15pm Underground Railroad 10:00pm Program Day Ends OI observed students and took notes during classes. POI observed students, took notes, and also participated in the class with them Researcher Activities Wake Up Breakfast Meet with students, Collect first cameras, hand out second cameras O Elaborate and compile notes O Elaborate and compile notes O/PO O Elaborate and compile notes O/PO Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes PO Compile and elaborate on notes, interview notes for the day.
186 Day 3 April 27, 2005 Participant Activities 7:30am Wake Up 8:30am Breakfast. Hand in second camera, pick up third camera 9:30am Drums as Language 10:35am Break 10:45am The Beast 12:15pm Break 12:30pm Lunch 1:30pm Canoeing 4:00pm Free activity time 6:00pm Dinner 6:30pm End of Day Interviews 6:40pm End of Day Interviews 6:50pm End of Day Interviews 7:00pm End of Day Interviews 7:15pm Tribal Council & Memory Campfire 10:00pm Program Day Ends OI observed students and took notes during classes. POI observed students, took notes, and also participated in the class with them Researcher Activities Wake Up Breakfast Meet with students, Collect second cameras, hand out third cameras PO Elaborate and compile notes O Elaborate and compile notes O/PO PO Elaborate and compile notes O/PO Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes O Compile and elaborate on notes, interview notes for the day.
187 Day 4 April 28, 2005 Participant Activities 7:30am Wake Up 8:30am Breakfast. Hand in third camera, pick up final camera 9:30am Florida Country 12:00pm End of Day Interviews 12:10pm End of Day Interviews 12:20pm End of Day Interviews 12:30pm End of Day Interviews 12:45 Lunch 1:30pm Hand in Final cameras. Departure OI observed students and took notes during classes. POI observed students, took notes, and also participated in the class with them Researcher Activities Wake Up Breakfast Meet with students, Collect second cameras, hand out third cameras O/PO Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes Record interview and take notes O/PO Collect final cameras. Compile and elaborate on notes, interview notes for the day and the week.
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202 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Shannon Shanely earned a bachelorÂ’s de gree in outdoor recreation from the University of Florida. After working at an outdoor education cente r, Shannon returned to school and earned a Master of Science in outdoor recreation from Indiana University. She continued to work in the outdoor/envi ronmental education field until earning her Master of Education in secondary scie nce education. After working as a 6th grade science teacher, Shannon returned to the University of Florida to work on her Ph.D. under the guidance of Dr. Linda Jones. Upon gra duation, Shannon returned to the outdoor education field and began work with teach ers and middle school students as they investigated water quality mon itoring issues in Missouri.