Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Wild Food Challenge: A Case Study of a Self-initiated Experiential Education Project
by McLaren, Graham, M.A., Prescott College, 2015, 151; 10003293
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis presents findings from a narrative and phenomenological case study that examined the inspirations and motivations that led to an adolescent student’s engagement in a self-initiated experiential education project (SEEP) and the subsequent effects on the adolescent’s sense of self. The student’s SEEP was a month-long challenge to eat only wild foods. SEEPs and self-designed experiential learning projects are examples of self-directed learning, which is becoming more common in adult, elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Six theoretical areas are addressed in the literature review, including adolescent sense of self, benefits of exposure to nature, mentoring, experiential education, eclectic homeschooling, and rites of passage. The investigator interviewed the SEEP initiator, who was a student at a school employing the deep nature connection mentoring model of education, and seven of the student’s mentors. Artifacts produced by the student and mentors related to the student’s self-initiated experiential education project were examined. Data analysis included crafting researcher profiles, writing a chronological story of the case, and an open-coded thematic analysis of the interview transcripts. Findings indicate the influences and motivations inspiring the creation of the SEEP in this case included elements of the initiators’ identity, self-esteem, education, resilience and self-efficacy; an adolescent need to test oneself; and a desire for a deeper connection with nature. The outcomes in terms of sense of self include impacts on identity and self-esteem, increased resilience and self-efficacy and an increasing appreciation for nature, family, and the student’s interdependence with other people. These impacts indicate that SEEPs could be a desired aspect of curriculum design. Educator, family, peer, and community support appear to be important influences encouraging students to create and engage in SEEPs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wapotich, Lorene
Commitee: Mitten, Denise, Powers, Deborah, Sbrogna, Kristen
School: Prescott College
Department: Adventure Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Pedagogy, Health education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Adolescent sense of self, Deep nature connection, Experiential education, Self-designed experiential learning project, Self-directed learning
Publication Number: 10003293
ISBN: 978-1-339-42478-1
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