Experiential learning by teachers: Tales from an Outward Bound Educators Course
This one-year qualitative study was both exploratory and interpretive, examining the collected experiences of seven participants in the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School's eight-day open enrollment Educators Course during the summer of 1995. Interview data over the course of the year were analyzed to learn how these participants ascribed meaning to their experiences over time and integrated these meanings into their personal and professional lives. The meanings which emerged from their narratives were sorted, coded, analyzed and organized into a presentation of the data using thick description and verbatim quotes. Included is the researcher's journal of participant observation experience to provide baseline data for the course events.
The data are presented as seven “tales” crafted from both the four questionnaires (called benchmarks) completed periodically during the months that followed the and of the course and summative interviews which took place during the summer of 1996.
Participant expectations in anticipation of the course varied from person to person and were not fully reflective of Outward Bound's intentions for educators participating at the school. Analysis of the stories identified metaphors and themes which threaded through the data. Two themes were identified in the stories of all participants. The first focused on the boat within which much of the course was staged. The second shared theme concerned fear and overcoming it.
There was no significant follow up support from Outward Bound to sustain this integration of the experience in the professional arena. However, in spite of lack of a cogent design for specific outcomes for the course, one year after the event the participants find the Outward Bound experience transferable in meaning to their personal and professional lives. A variety of expressions of growth and change were offered by the participants in their accounts. Because of the limitation of self-reports it was concluded that the course, at best, only suggests the unrealized potential of experiential education.
0516: Adult education
0516: Continuing education