Students’ Perceptions of Group Journal Writing as a Tool for Enhancing Sense of Community on Wilderness Educational Expeditions


  • Morten Asfeldt University of Alberta – Augustana campus
  • Rebecca Purc-Stephenson
  • Glen Hvenegaard



sense of community, journal writing, educational expeditions, outdoor education


Journal writing is a common practice in outdoor education (OE) and there is a long-standing claim that OE programs enhance sense of community (SOC). However, there remains a call for additional evidence to support the relationship between participation in outdoor programs and SOC. This study examines students’ perceptions of the role of a group journal activity (GJA)—an uncommon form of journaling—on the development of SOC during a wilderness educational expedition (WEE) and proposes group journal writing as an additional model of journaling on WEEs. To measure SOC, we used Chavis, Lee, and Acosta’s (2008) Sense of Community Index version 2. Although the total SOC scale did not increase significantly, the two subscales, membership and shared emotional connection, increased as a result of participation in the WEE and remained stable over time. In addition, students perceived the GJA as contributing to the enhancement of SOC.

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Author Biography

Morten Asfeldt, University of Alberta – Augustana campus

Morten Asfeldt is an Associate Professor of Physical Education (Outdoor Education) and has led educational expeditions for over 25 years. His research interests include educational expeditions and place-conscious pedagogy, leadership development, storytelling, and the history of his expedition routes. He is the co-editor of Pike’s Portage: Stories of a Distinguished Place (Dundurn, 2010).

 Rebecca Purc-Stephenson is an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Augustana Faculty at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include health, illness, work and access to services for the socially disadvantaged, and her studies use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to develop practical/applied theories.

Glen Hvenegaard is a professor of Environmental Science and past leader of wilderness educational expeditions. He conducts research on ecotourism, parks, environmental education, biogeography, and rural sustainability. He is co-editor of Taking the Next Steps: Sustainability Planning and Collaboration in Rural Canada (University of Alberta Press, 2016).







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