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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conceptions of outdoor education that underlie outdoor education courses at English speaking Canadian universities Hirsch, Judith Elizabeth


This study characterizes the content and internal structure of a set of conceptions of outdoor education. Fifty-four English speaking Canadian university programs or courses which were labelled, or contained as essential parts of their descriptions. The term outdoor education or any of a series of related terms provide the basis for analysis. A conception is defined as a coordinated set of central concepts, values and procedures which are explicit or implicit in course documents. The study employed a methodological triangulation. Content analysis of course documents provided the description of the values, central concepts and procedures associated with each course. Q methodology was performed by course conductors to review the 'values' and 'central concepts' components found in the content analysis and to express their views of the significance of those values and central concepts. A focused interview was conducted with fourteen course developers to confirm, refute or extend previously obtained data. Q methodology produced a typology of outdoor education comprising five primary conceptions¹ and one secondary conception: The Outdoor Recreationist, The Adventurer, The Education, The Life Skills Entrepreneur, The Environmentalist, Distinguishing features of each conception and features common among the primary conceptions are discussed. Focused interviews produced information about course conductor attitudes and training , the program's relationship with other fields of study, the concept's need for clarification, the need for a common knowledge base in outdoor education, and its relationship with the natural environment, teaching, recreation and education. Suggestions for further investigation are briefly discussed. "Environmentalist", "The Educator", "The Life Skills Entrepreneur", and "The Administrator" are heuristic devices which refer to an ideal type of individual who embodies a co-ordinated set of central concepts, values, and procedures which are explicit or implicit a conception of outdoor education.

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