Restoring Culture and History in Outdoor Education Research: Dewey’s Theory of Experience as a Methodology




Outdoor education, experiential learning, John Dewey, intellectual history, research methodology


Dewey’s (1938) theory of experience involved the use of history as “a potent agent in appreciation of the living present” (p. 23). Dewey meant his statement as an educational prescription, but it also has significant research implications. These implications can be understood in terms of studying the history of a topic versus using history in research on outdoor education (Weatherbee, 2012). The article first uses the example of experiential learning to illustrate the importance of using history in research for understanding core concepts. The article then discusses Dewey’s principles of continuity and interaction to show how time functions in a more expansive way in experience than commonly recognized and how it might guide research design. Experience therefore provides a set of historically reflexive guidelines for researchers concerned with the relationships between cultural and psychological processes in outdoor education. 

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Author Biography

Jayson Seaman, University of New Hampshire

Associate Professor
Department of Kinesiology – Outdoor Education
Affiliate Associate Professor of Education


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