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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The effects of a treatment curriculum on the learning transfer of prosocial behavior in adventure education
by Furman, Nathan Neil, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2011, 160; 3450512
Abstract (Summary)

The issue of learning transfer is of prime importance to the field of adventure education. Adventure education programs are designed to promote a variety of personal development outcomes for participants, and a significant amount of research has validated these outcomes. However, in order for students to use the learning gained during their course, they must transfer the learning from a backcountry context to their postcourse life.

This study measured the effects of a theoretically-grounded treatment curriculum designed to foster the transfer of learning of expedition/prosocial behaviors compared to a traditional curriculum. Expedition behavior (EB) is a concern for other people, coupled with the willingness to demonstrate this concern through action. It is a term used in many adventure education programs, and is similar to a psychological construct called prosocial behavior. Prosocial behaviors (PSB) are described as behaviors that are primarily aimed at benefiting others, and may be described as sharing, comforting others, donating goods or money, volunteerism, and instrumental helping.

The treatment curriculum was delivered to 14- to 15-year-old students who attended 2-week long adventure education courses with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the summer of 2008. Each of these courses featured 15 students. The instructors of four of the courses were trained to administer the treatment curriculum and the instructors of the other four courses administered the traditional curriculum.

In order to assess transfer, a measure of PSB, the PTM-R, was completed by research participants three times: before the course left for the field, immediately when the course returned, and 3 months postcourse. In addition, participants completed a standardized outcome measurement of EB, along with several qualitative questions. Quantitative data were analyzed using MANOVA and qualitative data were analyzed using constant comparison technique.

Results suggested that the treatment curriculum was responsible for increasing proximal learning of EB. Results did not show that the treatment curriculum was effective in fostering the transfer of PSB. Qualitative data analysis was incapable of detecting differences in data between the two groups, but offered insight into how students use their EB postcourse. Implications for adventure programming, pedagogy, and transfer are considered.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sibthorp, Robert J.
Commitee: Cross, Reid, Dustin, Daniel, Gardner, Michael, Paisley, Karen
School: The University of Utah
Department: Parks, Recreation and Tourism
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Educational psychology, Recreation
Keywords: Adventure education, Expedition behavior, Learning transfer, National Outdoor Leadership School, Outdoor education, Prosocial, Prosocial behavior
Publication Number: 3450512
ISBN: 978-1-124-59226-8
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