"Rekindling the spirit of adventure: through participation in the expedition component of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award : the value of this challenge for the participant"

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Bailey, Peter L.
Faculty of Education
thesis / dissertation description
Each year thousands of students are involved in the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award. The Award is divided into four components: community service, a physical recreation pursuit a personal skill development and the expedition component. The expedition component requires a two day one night preliminary expedition and a two day and one night qualifying expedition. This research explores the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award Expedition in terms of active involvement, cooperative teamwork, self-confidence, social effectiveness, stress management and time efficiency during these expeditions.This research involves a case study of the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award program at Southern Highlands High School, N.S.W. Australia. The study targetted participants from the Year Nine cohort of Southern Highlands High School. The study investigates gender differences by conducting single gender expeditions throughout this research.The report that follows provides a view of how a school can evaluate one of the programs that has been implemented in an attempt to understand the theoretical and practical implications for the students involved in the program.The study was designed to provide a research tool that was transferable to other school settings. The importance of this study lies in the fact that the findings could add to a base of knowledge from which school-based facilitators could reflect and learn more about the field of interest and methods of enhancing learning through rekindling the spirit of adventure with secondary school students.The problem under investigationThe exploration of this research question will lead the author to navigate towards gaining a better understanding of the pathways the participants experience during their adventure. This journey includes: • Examining the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award Expedition experience to observe any changes in the participants' active involvement, cooperative teamwork, self-confidence, social effectiveness, stress management and time efficiency.Participants were administered a R.O.P.E. Evaluation Questionnaire (Review of Personal Effectiveness) prior to each expedition and on completion of each expedition. This instrument contained 38 statements on a 1 to 8 rating scale. The participants were involved in intensive pre-briefing during the three days prior to the expeditions. These briefings included initiative activities, skill development, group planning and motivational strategies in preparation for the expeditions. Each expedition experience was held over a two day duration. It was during this stage of the preparation that the expedition metaphor was explored with the group. The metaphoric transfer is a type of learning where parallels exist between the two learning environments. This often occurs in adventure education, because the activities can have a strong similarity to actual life experiences (Priest and Gass, 1997). The Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award participants were also required to maintain a "My Journal" and participate in interviews reflecting on their personal experiences.The Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award participants were all Year Nine students from Southern Highlands High School during 1997. The control group was also comprised of Year Nine students from the same cohort at Southern Highlands High School. The participants in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Bronze Expedition were self selecting. The age range of the participants was 14 years to 16 years of age.The school's senior executive was enthusiastic in their support of the program and the research potential of the program. The parents/caregivers were involved in each stage of the expedition preparation process, providing the physical and monitory resources required by the participants.The implications of the researchBefore the benefits of the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze expedition can be seen for the participant in terms of personal growth, research needs to be conducted. Many facilitators have observed the impact of a two day program and witnessed the sights of students emerging from these experiences only to find great difficulty communicating the value of the experience to a colleague on returning to the world of classrooms, set times and the playground environment. The need to research the expedition experiences may help to develop an understanding of the factors that contribute towards individual change. An understanding of the adventure process, the desire for participants to be faced with challenges, opportunities to solve real problems and to interact with others and the natural environment will add to the base of knowledge we have already established about educating students.