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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Development Of A Psychometric Scale To Measure Challenge (Stress) Type And Intensity In Wilderness Education Students
by Gookin, John, Ph.D., Prescott College, 2011, 80; 3465932
Abstract (Summary)

This study developed a psychometric scale to measure types and intensities of challenges (stressors) on wilderness education expeditions. This new tool can help assess developmentally appropriate challenges on wilderness education, but it also has a higher utility.

A broader aim was to shift a base metaphor about stress in wilderness education from fear (Ewert, 1986b) to challenge. Stress scientists made this clarification with Selye (1974), but common language implies that stress and fear are both "bad" and primarily psychological constructs; while challenge is more open to being either positive or negative, as well as either a physical or mental test of abilities. This shifts educators' attitudes away from conventional psychology focused on treatment of pathology and towards positive psychology, which refocuses on productive, healthy, and enjoyable lifestyles (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) and optimism (Seligman, 2006). This epistemological shift theoretically transforms wilderness education by using a conceptualization for challenge that is more open to eustress and other positive life experiences.

A psychometric scale development methodology (DeVellis, 2003) was used. Students were asked what their greatest challenges were, and then constant comparison (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994) was used to reduce 648 perceived challenges to 19 challenge items. A validation sample (n=296) showed that all items contributed to the scale's internal reliability and showed that the data range had adequate normal distribution. The Outdoor Situational Fear Inventory (Young et al, 1995) was co-administered to a subsample (n=30) to test for discriminant validity of the challenge scale.

The resulting scale was internally consistent (&agr;=. 851) with 19 items and 3 factors with strong loadings including intrapersonal (.908), interpersonal (.763), and program and environment (.814). The challenge scale measures some but not all of the facets of the OSFI.

This new scale offers a tool to wilderness educators to measure programmatic challenges that are developmentally appropriate.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Medrick, Rick
Commitee: Hunt, Jasper, Paisley, Karen, Sibthorp, Jim
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 72/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Environmental education, Kinesiology, Quantitative psychology
Keywords: Challenge, Eustress, Outdoor adventure education, Positive psychology, Stress, Wilderness education
Publication Number: 3465932
ISBN: 978-1-124-78633-9
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