The effects of an outdoor experiential education program on a student's self-concept and their perceptions of the program
Hlasny, Jason G.
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of three different, shortterm, yet intense outdoor experiential education programs on student's self-concept using the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale: Second Edition (TSCS: 2) in a pretest-posttest design. In addition, an analysis of student's self-perceptions was conducted using an interview format to determine what variables had an effect on the overall outdoor experience. Forty-five students from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, 27 males and 18 females, whose ages ranged from 18-37 years old (mean =20), participated in one of three outdoor experiential education courses: Map and Compass (14 subjects), Canoe Techniques ( 15 subjects), or Outdoor Skills (16 subjects). Results indicated a significant difference in Total Self-Concept of students from pretest to posttest when the mean score of the entire outdoor experiential education sample was used (F=5.73; p=.02). The data indicated no significant within-group differences from pretest to posttest (F=2.55; p=.09), thus no one particular course was significant by itself when compared against the other two courses. However, there was a trend in improved Total Self-Concept in two of the three groups. Student's enrolled in the Outdoor Skills and Map and Compass course had positive changes in Total Self-Concept from pretest to posttest, but student enrolled in the Canoe Techniques course demonstrated negative changes in Total Self-Concept from pretest to posttest. A significant difference was found on the Personal (F=10. 14; p=.003), Satisfaction (F=16.72; p=.000), and Behavior (F=7.25, p=.01) sub-scales of the TSCS 2 from pretest to posttest. Results from the student interviews revealed seven common themes. These themes included: Teamwork, having fun and making friends, personal growth, enjoyment of the outdoors, personal calming and solitude, adventure and challenge, and trust. These results support the notion that learning can and does take place in short-term, yet intense experiential education programs.