Formal curricular initiatives and evaluation in the UK

Authored by: Heather Prince , David Exeter

Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782884
eBook ISBN: 9781315768465
Adobe ISBN: 9781317666523


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The formal education system in the UK, as in many educational systems, is outcome driven. There is a strong and substantial research base for the impacts of outdoor adventure programmes on young people’s development in the affective and interpersonal domains but less evidence for the cognitive benefits (Rickinson et al., 2004). Many schools would dream about being presented with a simple model in which the introduction of an outdoor curriculum impacts directly on higher pupil achievement, resulting in an upward trending profile in key performance indicators. The reality is that, even if such a relationship could be presented, the intangibility of variables would be such that the cause and effect could not be differentiated securely from factors such as further pedagogical initiatives, step-change, baseline data on student performance, and other intrinsic and extraneous influences. However, it is clear that an outdoor curriculum can pervade young people’s attitudes, beliefs and self-perceptions, and enhance interpersonal and social skills (ibid.). The interrelationship between the interpersonal, activity and locational dimensions of outdoor experiences has been shown to be valued by young people (Mannion, Sankey, Doyle & Mattu, 2007), and research has suggested that, ‘it seems that adventure programs have a major impact on the lives of participants, and that this impact is lasting’ (Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards, 1997, p. 43).

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