While this topic is not yet finished, I feel as though the experiences, structure and content provided throughout have been greatly beneficial to understanding the foundations of outdoor education and experiential learning. I believe I have been able to contribute towards my own and others’ learning through engaging and participating in the day walk and multi-day bushwalk experiences, as well as the time spent in class prior to the semester beginning. It is clear to me that this topic has been constructed to learn about making meaningful outdoor experiences through experiential learning to instil the learning and teaching styles applicable to outdoor education. Even with a diverse range of students enrolled in the topic, we have grown and come to know each other well through the experiences and adventures we have shared. Shared adventurous experiences, as highlighted by Beames et al., (2019) in the chapter Adventure and Personal and Social Development are a key driver for the development of strong relationships.
Experiences such as the multi-day bushwalk provided me with the opportunity to further develop my skills working with like-minded individuals, as well as adults that had limited to no experience in bushwalking and camping. Of particular note were the opportunities to communicate and share the skills and knowledge I had prior to the beginning of this topic to assist others in deepening their understanding of skills such as navigation. This is reflective of the constructivist approach to teaching and learning in which teachers develop existing knowledge to make links between what students know and what they need to learn (Anthony & Walshaw, 2007 in Duchesne & McMaugh, 2019). I also benefited from being able to partake in the tutorials led by other students, which were deeply informative and well-constructed, and gave us opportunities to have discussions and provide feedback. Peer-assisted learning is considered to be beneficial for students because the feedback and elaborations provided by other group members builds to a better level of understanding than one student can create on their own (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2019). The micro tutorials presented on the day walk and multi-day walk developed content knowledge while providing opportunity to practice teaching strategies in real life scenarios. This was a unique feature of this topic which contributed to a greater breadth of learning.
During the multi-day walk there were opportunities to practice leadership as all members of our group were encouraged to take leadership in navigation, time frames and briefing or debriefing the group. I found that I gravitated toward a democratic style of leadership demonstrated by providing thorough explanations and questioning during briefing sessions (Val & Kemp, 2012). This style of leadership is particularly beneficial in circumstances where the group is mostly autonomous but require some structure, in this case in order to keep on track with the schedule. While I feel this is my most natural leadership style, I have incorporated elements from the Laissez-faire leadership philosophy to encourage independence and proactive thinking in other members of the group (Val & Kemp, 2012). This trip encouraged me to vary my usual leadership style due to the competency and proactiveness of the group. The previous study in this unit provided me with alternative frameworks to use in an unfamiliar environment.
The Six P's
As the saying goes, “prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance” implies that almost any task or undertaking could either be improved through proper preparation, or end in failure without adequate thought put into it beforehand. Planning for a trip or activity in an outdoor space plays a vital role in the overall success and outcomes for the participants or members of a group. Xiao et al., (1997) explain that planning is "the process of preparing and enriching the action resources needed for efficient functioning in complex environments."
Firstly, there is inherent risk in undertaking activities outdoors, and without an attempt to plan for, apply and know how to mitigate those risks could lead to you, your family, friends, or people in your care getting seriously injured or even dying. In turn, this could create an overwhelming flow-on effect, including the emotional, financial, cognitive, psychological, physical, spiritual, intellectual (Rankin, 2021) trauma placed on that person, the people who witness an accident, the person’s friends and family, and the effect on potential future outdoor experiences being undertaken by those affected. A severe injury or accident could also impact any future activities led by you or your organisation, or even result in severe legal ramifications.
Aside from prevention of risks to people and the environment, outdoor activities in an educational context that have not been well planned can lead to limited outcomes for students. Boyes et al., (2019) conclude that in-depth preparation and planning not only contribute to efficient and adaptable decision making, but also ensures that pedagogical outcomes are met for the intentions of the activity or trip.
Click on the icons to the left for links to download the planning documentation used for our single and multi-day walks. These could be used as resources for planning and preparing similar activities.
Flinders University Day-walk planning document
Kuitpo Day-walk planning document
Deep Creek Multi-day bushwalk planning document
Beames, S., Mackie, C., & Atencio, M. (2019). Adventure and Society (1st ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96062-3
Boyes, M., Potter, T., Andkjaer, S., & Lindner, M. (2019). The role of planning in outdoor adventure decision-making. Journal of Adventure
Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(4), 343–357. https://doi.org/10.1080/14729679.2018.1548364
Duchesne, S., & McMaugh, A. (2019). Educational psychology for learning and teaching (6th ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.
Rankin, J. (2021). Workshop 2—Risk, Route Planning, A1 [Flinders University Lecture].
Val, C., & Kemp, J. (2012). Leadership Styles. The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, 24, 28–31.
Xiao, Y., Milgram, P., & Doyle, D. (1997). Planning behavior and its functional role in interactions with complex systems. Systems, Man and
Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans, IEEE Transactions On, 27, 313–324. https://doi.org/10.1109/3468.568740