Important Factors Leading to Outdoor Orientation Program Outcomes: A Qualitative Exploration of Survey Results


  • Brent J. Bell University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
  • Marion R. Holmes University of New Hampshire


Outdoor orientation, wilderness orientation, First-year experience


This study expands upon a previous study that found significant differences among students' First Year Experience course (FYE) learning outcomes, as measured by the First Year Initiative Survey (FYI) (Swing, 2002). One group of students received content in an adventure-based class prior to fall, whereas a second group received content in a classroom during the first 10-weeks of the semester. The adventure FYE reported higher or equivalent scores to the traditional FYE group on the FYI's fifteen factors. This study focuses on understanding why differences occurred and was guided by the two survey outcomes with the highest effect sizes (Improved connections with peers and Improved knowledge of wellness). Researchers coded 237 post-trip essays in an exploratory sequential design (Creswell & Plano-Clark, 2007). The adventure setting appears to foster increased trust among participants. This trust was reported to lead to more in-depth personal discussions about curricular topics, thereby increasing FYI scores.



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