Adolescent Brain Development and Mechanisms of Self- Regulation: Considerations for Adventure Education Program Design and Implementation


  • Cass Morgan University of Utah
  • Mary Sara Wells University of Utah


The guiding philosophical framework underlying adolescent adventure education (AE) programs is that through the process of overcoming challenging experiences, personal growth will occur (e.g. Luckner & Nadler, 1997; Priest & Gass, 1997; Walsh & Golins, 1976). To this end, programs are often designed and implemented on the  basis  that  challenge is a positive and educative tool to elicit personal growth (McKenzie, 2000). This objective, however, is contingent upon an individual's ability to effectively engage, manage, and overcome the challenge. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of adolescent brain development and the maturation process of cognitive mechanisms that affect and enable how an individual responds to challenging and stressful situations. The author will then provide considerations into a promising pedagogical approach that is developmentally grounded and offers a potential mechanism to encourage active coping strategies to successfully meet programmatic challenges.