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Where Are the Instructors? Benefits of Unaccompanied Program Components Wilderness Risk Management Conference Durham, NC, USA Friday, October 16, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Where Are the Instructors? Benefits of Unaccompanied Program Components Wilderness Risk Management Conference Durham, NC, USA Friday, October 16, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Where Are the Instructors? Benefits of Unaccompanied Program Components Wilderness Risk Management Conference Durham, NC, USA Friday, October 16, 2009 Andrew J. Bobilya, Ph. D. Kenneth R. Kalisch, M.S. Dave Sperry, M.S. Montreat College Outdoor Education Department Montreat, NC, USA

2 Presentation Overview Small Group Discussions on Risks/Benefits of Solo and Final Expedition Course Components Small Group Discussions on Risks/Benefits of Solo and Final Expedition Course Components Large Group Sharing of Risks/Benefits Large Group Sharing of Risks/Benefits Research Summary of Benefits Research Summary of Benefits Large Group Discussion of Best Practices Large Group Discussion of Best Practices Available Resources Available Resources

3 Small Group Discussion What are the risks and benefits involved in programming unaccompanied student experiences on wilderness courses (Solo & Final Expedition)? What are the risks and benefits involved in programming unaccompanied student experiences on wilderness courses (Solo & Final Expedition)?

4 Research Purpose Overview The purpose of these two studies was to understand students’ perceptions of their Solo or Final Expedition experience during a wilderness experience program.

5 Why Investigate the Solo and Final Expedition? The Solo and Final Expedition have been found to be one of the most memorable and significant course components over the participant’s lifetime (Daniel, 2003; Gassner & Kahlid, 2006) The Solo and Final Expedition have been found to be one of the most memorable and significant course components over the participant’s lifetime (Daniel, 2003; Gassner & Kahlid, 2006) Solo is one of the most influential components of a wilderness experience program (Daniel, 2003; Fredrickson & Anderson, 1999; Griffin, 2000; McFee, 1993; Price, 1999; Sibthorp, 2000; Stringer & McAvoy, 1992; Williams & Kalisch, 1995). Solo is one of the most influential components of a wilderness experience program (Daniel, 2003; Fredrickson & Anderson, 1999; Griffin, 2000; McFee, 1993; Price, 1999; Sibthorp, 2000; Stringer & McAvoy, 1992; Williams & Kalisch, 1995). There is very little data that can provide meaningful insight from the participants’ perspective regarding a) their expectation of the program component b) their experience of the program component c) what influenced their experience during the particular component of the program (McKenzie, 2000)

6 Solo Data Collection Overview 2002 Participant’s Perceptions - Pilot Study Solo 2003 Participant’s Perceptions- Dissertation Solo 2004 In-House Evaluation Solo 2005 Intentional Design Study Solo 2006 NCOBS Pilot Study Solo 2007 NCOBS Participant’s Perceptions Solo Pre-Program Survey (n=134) Pre-Program Survey (n = 126) Solo Survey (n = 134) Solo Survey (n = 126) Solo Survey (n = 95) Solo Survey (n = 85) Solo Survey (n = 174) Solo Survey (n = 335) Focus Group Interviews (n = 33) Focus Group Interviews (n = 30) 1:1 Interviews 3 ½ Months Later (n = 16)

7 Final Expedition Data Collection Overview 2008 Youth and Adult Participants’ Perceptions of the Final Expedition 2009 Youth and Adult Participants’ Perceptions of the Final Expedition Adult Participants’ Perceptions of the Final Expedition Final Expedition Survey (n=335) Final Expedition Survey

8 Solo Characteristics Research Question: “What are three lessons you learned during your Solo experience that you want to apply to your life at home?” Solo Timing During Course Solo Timing During Course –Beginning 1/3 – 2% –Middle 1/3 – 59% –Last 1/3 – 29% *10% non-response Length of Solo Length of Solo – hours – 30% –24 – 35 hours – 27.5% –36 – 48 hours – 37.5% –Over 48 hours – 5%

9 Summary of Solo Study Results Major Themes Intended Transfer of Learning: Self and Lifestyle Intended Transfer of Learning: Self and Lifestyle Appreciation for Home and Outdoor Experiences Appreciation for Home and Outdoor Experiences

10 Intended Transfer of Learning - Self Sub Themes 1. Self-Reliance 2. Self-Worth 3. Perseverance 4. Responsibility 5. Simplicity

11 Intended Transfer of Learning - Self Self-Reliance “I am able to survive, pleasantly even in situations that might seem daunting or impossible at first. I am capable and resourceful.” “I can take care of myself, and I don’t always need someone to help me do things.” Self-Worth “I learned that I am worth sticking up for. I used to always let people push me around and now I know I don’t need anyone to tell me I am good enough.”

12 Intended Transfer of Learning - Self Perseverance “Time and patience can give you the results you want.” Responsibility “I kind of feel like no situation can make you miserable without allowing yourself to feel miserable. Basically I want to take the concept (home) that every situation is all about attitude and how you view the situation. I really want to hold on to this lesson and keep it with me when I get back.” Simplicity “The enormous difference between needing and wanting something. I don’t need food to be content or a TV to be entertained. Sometimes going without wants helps me to focus on the important things to think about.”

13 Intended Transfer of Learning - Lifestyle Sub Themes: 1. Personal Time 2. Physical Needs 3. Spending Time Outside 4. Seeking New Challenges

14 Intended Transfer of Learning - Lifestyle Personal Time “Having time alone is calming and it helps you to clear your mind. I definitely want something like this once a week.” Physical Needs “How crucial food is to awaken mental state and to a functioning body. I want to not waste food and eat healthy so my body can perform at its peak.” Spending Time Outside “Man needs to spend one to two days a week in nature to become less stressful.” Seeking New Challenges “I thought a lot about future plans during solo and decided I should push myself to try new things just like I did in Outward Bound.”

15 Appreciation for Home and Outdoor Experiences Sub Themes 1. Food 2. People 3. “Things” 4. Outdoor Experience 5. Solitude / Time to Think

16 Appreciation…. Food “Food is a precious thing that many people don’t have. I should appreciate it more and be thankful that I have it.” People “The friends I have, I have for a reason. They are good people. I now know how lucky I am to have them (also my Mom).” “Things” “Give thanks for simple things! Stop taking little pleasures for granted, celebrate your comforts – dry underwear is a start.” Outdoor Experiences “Being outside with nature is fun!” Solitude / Time to Think “Self-awareness and deep contemplation are the guides to success in your daily life. Without them, you will surely lose yourself.”

17 “You cannot harvest the lessons of life except in aloneness and I go to the length of saying that neither the love of man nor the love of God can take deep root except in aloneness” – Kurt Hahn

18 Final Expedition Research Questions “What did you enjoy the most about your Final Expedition experience?” “What did you enjoy the most about your Final Expedition experience?” “What was the most difficult part of your Final Expedition experience?” “What was the most difficult part of your Final Expedition experience?” “How did the freedom from instructors on your Final Expedition most contribute to your personal growth and/or group development?” “How did the freedom from instructors on your Final Expedition most contribute to your personal growth and/or group development?”

19 Final Expedition Characteristics Length of Final Expedition (# of groups) Under 24 hours:Youth-6Adult-0 Under 24 hours:Youth-6Adult hours: Youth-20Adult hours: Youth-20Adult hours: Youth-5Adult hours: Youth-5Adult-1 Instructor Positioning During Final Expedition Travel with Group: Youth-8Adult-0 Travel with Group: Youth-8Adult-0 Shadow within sight & sound: Youth-13Adult-1 Shadow within sight & sound: Youth-13Adult-1 Shadow within sight OR sound:Youth-10Adult-0 Shadow within sight OR sound:Youth-10Adult-0 Unaccompanied: Youth-0Adult-1 Unaccompanied: Youth-0Adult-1

20 Final Expedition: Most Difficult Characteristic Preliminary Themes (by rank order) 1.Physical Challenge 2.Group Dynamics 3.Navigation 4.Autonomy

21 Final Expedition: Most Enjoyable Characteristic Preliminary Themes (by rank order) 1.Autonomy 2.Accomplishment 3.Community 4.Teamwork

22 How Did the Freedom from Instructors Most Contribute to Your Personal Growth and/or Group Development? Preliminary Themes (by rank order) Personal 1.Self-Reliance 2.Self-Awareness 3.Leadership Development Group 1.Group Reliance 2.Group Responsibility 3.Group Cohesion

23 ConclusionsSolo Times of intentional solitude provided a powerful, positive, and countercultural experience that many intended to practice when they when they returned home. Times of intentional solitude provided a powerful, positive, and countercultural experience that many intended to practice when they when they returned home. Participants’ self-perceptions changed by seeing themselves as more self- reliant and more capable of handling uncertain situations. Participants’ self-perceptions changed by seeing themselves as more self- reliant and more capable of handling uncertain situations. Solo enhanced participant’s self-understanding and self-worth. Solo enhanced participant’s self-understanding and self-worth. Being alone and without certain comforts offered participants the opportunity to discriminate between their needs and wants. Being alone and without certain comforts offered participants the opportunity to discriminate between their needs and wants. Final Expedition The Final Expedition encouraged participants to take increased responsibility for themselves and others and to experience clearer consequences for personal decisions. The Final Expedition encouraged participants to take increased responsibility for themselves and others and to experience clearer consequences for personal decisions. The group dynamics and autonomy afforded by the Final Expedition were both the most enjoyable and most difficult aspects for many students. The group dynamics and autonomy afforded by the Final Expedition were both the most enjoyable and most difficult aspects for many students.

24 Discussion Questions  What decision-making process does your organization go through to weigh the risks vs. benefits of facilitating Solo or Final Expedition components?  What is the relationship between course purpose, length, location, etc. when deciding whether to offer an unaccompanied student experience?  What are the “best practices” for framing, management and debriefing of these unaccompanied experiences?

25 “A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928


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