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Error in Outdoor Education: The risk to learning

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Cure, S and Hill, A and Cruickshank, V (2014) Error in Outdoor Education: The risk to learning. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

In contemporary outdoor education (OE) literature, the role of risk is being critically examined. The critical examinations recommend a shift in focus from high-risk adventure activities to investigating the use of a wider range of pedagogical practices to create engaging learning opportunities for students. The purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of OE teachers in Tasmania related to the practices of quality teaching and learning in the outdoor learning process. Specifically there was a desire to examine John Hattie’s suggestion that “mistakes are the essence of learning” (2012, p. 26) and discover how OE teachers are able to create a learning environment welcoming of student error and use appropriate feedback to create valuable learning opportunities.

Seven participants were interviewed in this research and the findings in this study were presented in five key themes. They are (1) goals of OE; (2) learning environments, trust and the temporal nature of OE programs; (3) relationship between error and feedback in the teaching and learning process; (4) the relationship between teacher belief and pedagogical practice; and (5) impact of risk. Participants in this research were clear and unanimous in their beliefs that mistakes, when accompanied by appropriate feedback, are essential aspects of teaching and learning processes. There was some hesitancy, however, as to how this belief can be applied in practice when the outdoor learning environment is deliberately structured to include high-risk activities. This inconsistency between the teacher belief and pedagogical practice with respect to the role of error underpinned the major findings of this research.

This research project was a small and localised study examining how teachers perceive the role of error within the outdoor teaching and learning process. It appears from this small sample size that the creation of a learning environment welcoming of student error requires more time than what many of our participants programs allow. The findings of this research are consistent with the shifting nature of contemporary OE literature suggesting that high-risk activities could be relied upon less in OE programs allowing opportunities for alternative principles of teaching and learning, such as welcoming error.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Keywords: Outdoor education, teacher professional learning, student error, mistake, feedback, risk.
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2014 the authors

Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2014 22:01
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:52
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