An evaluation of outdoor development activities
Jones, Julian Mark
University of Wales
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This study responds to an identified gap in the Outdoor Development Activities (ODA) literature. It applies a neo-positivist approach to the evaluation of ODA enabling a greater understanding of the outcomes and processes at work during ODA courses. Evaluation studies on this form of personal development are not new. Here the argument is taken further through a more holistic analysis of the contributions made by both course and participant. The thesis identifies the key characteristics of ODA and evaluates the role of learning theory in underpinning the provision of ODA. A summary of previous evaluation research findings is provided and the influence of research methodology explored. It is argued that weaknesses in the extant research literature stem from inherent difficulties associated with the subject matter and the unbalanced view gained by pursuing exclusively either a quantitative or qualitative approach. The research methodology adopted in this thesis addresses both of these limitations. The two case studies investigated in the studies, adopted quantitative and qualitative techniques to produce a complex and rich picture of the processes at work during ODA. The study's key contribution to the OMD literature is its examination of how task, review and the individual participant shape all learning outcomes. A modified version of the Lewin/Kolb model of experiential learning is advanced that explains the controversy surrounding OMD as a form of management learning and the variable outcomes associated with it.
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