Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Dr. Robert B Powell, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Barry A Garst

Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth D Baldwin

Committee Member

Dr. Cassie F Quigley

Abstract

Continuing education programs for teachers have the potential to provide beneficial outcomes for both participants and their students. Experiential wilderness-based programs are a unique form of continuing education because of their use of wilderness-based learning environments, outdoor-recreation activities, and experiential teaching initiatives. Research examining the influence of experiential wilderness programs on a range of outcomes (adjustments in behavioral conduct, pro-environmental behaviors, increased classroom culture) is well documented. However, there is little research focused on the use of these type of programs for professional development for educators. Therefore, this research investigated the North Carolina Outward Bound Educators' Initiative (NCOBEI) program as an experiential wilderness-based professional development opportunity for K-12 educators. First, we explore the range of personal and professional development outcomes educators' associate with participation as well as the influence of specific program elements on each outcome. Second, we investigate if the program assists educators' integration of experiential teaching techniques in their schools and classrooms; and further, if educators' beliefs and confidence regarding using these methods can serve as predictors of their later use. Lastly, we evaluate the NCOBEI program for its' influence on participants' positive character traits, forms of professional development, and post training use of experiential learning methods. Our findings demonstrate the powerful influence of experiential wilderness-based professional development opportunities for educators and should be used to support further opportunities for educators and other stakeholders to participate.

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