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Developing groupwork through outdoor adventure education: a systematic evaluation of learning and transfer in higher education

Cooley, Sam Joseph (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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For the majority of students, the ability to work effectively with others is an important part of higher education and future employment. Outdoor adventure education (OAE) courses are therefore used in higher education to provide students with a unique and challenging environment for developing transferrable groupwork skills. Working in an action research setting and informed by the Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation, the aim of this thesis was to investigate students’ experiences of OAE and the processes that underpin learning and transfer. Following a review of existing literature (Study 1), four empirical studies were employed using mixed methods. Qualitative methods were used to explore students’ experiences whilst immersed in OAE (Study 2) and when returning to education and entering employment, from a student, alumni, academic staff, and instructor perspective (Study 3). Questionnaires were also implemented to measure changes before and after OAE (Study 4) and again at follow-up (Study 5). OAE was found to improve groupwork skills, attitudes, and self-efficacy, resulting in improved academic groupwork, greater confidence, satisfaction, integration, and employability. Transfer was not achieved in all students however, and the thesis introduces a model for optimising learning and transfer (MOLT), which outlines the personal and environmental processes through which learning and transfer was achieved. Support is provided for existing theories within the literature and practical recommendations are made to further develop OAE. Novel research methods are also introduced such as a semi-structured video diary room.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Burns, Victoria and Cumming, Jennifer
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Additional Information:

Publications resulting from research:

Cooley, S. J., Burns, V. E., & Cumming, J. (2015). The Role of Outdoor Education in Facilitating Groupwork in Higher Education. Higher Education, 69, 567-­582.­014-­9791-­4

Cooley, S. J., Holland, M. J. G., Cumming, J., Novakovic, E. G., & Burns, V. E. (2014). Introducing the use of a semi-­structured video diary room to investigate students’ learning experiences during an outdoor adventure education groupwork skills course. Higher Education, 67, 105-­121.­013-­9645-­5

Cooley, S. J., Cumming, J., Holland, M. J. G., & Burns, V. E. (2015). Developing the Model for Optimal Learning and Transfer (MOLT) following an evaluation of outdoor groupwork skills programmes. The European Journal of Training and Development, 39, 105-­121.­06-­2014-­0046

Subjects:LB Theory and practice of education
LB2300 Higher Education
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:6275
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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