Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Department

College of Education

Abstract

There is a lack of research investigating the effectiveness of outdoor orientation programs. Specifically, there is an absence of research examining what program elements contribute to student development and how those elements support that growth. Programs have relied on anecdotal evidence of outcome achievement but these indicators do not sufficiently identify the processes that specifically influence participant development. This study uses means-end theory to assess an outdoor orientation program at a large public university. Participant interviews identified meaningful features of their program experience and explained what outcomes were achieved as a result of those specific features. Laddering and means-end analysis were used to generate a hierarchical value map and identify participant development trends. The findings revealed that adventure elements were the most meaningful features and contributed to a diverse set of outcomes. Additionally, results showed that participants attributed growth to other features; however, they were not highlighted as the most meaningful. Conclusions drawn from the study indicate that the outdoor orientation program studied is successful in assisting student transition. Additionally, the study demonstrated that means-end analysis provides clear and detailed data associations for future investigation within this program. Additional empirically designed research examining individual program elements is required to expand upon results and develop broader conclusions regarding outdoor orientation program elements.

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