Modern Experiential Outdoor Education (O.E.E.) has been in existence for more than 5 decades. Its origin is attributed to Kurt Hann who initiated the approach with the view of improving the chances of survival to British seamen who were dying in large numbers during naval warfare (Flavin, 1996). Initially the program was aimed at helping the young men develop a strong character, realize their potential and develop the will to survive.
O.E.E is recognized as being important in bringing about learning experiences that enhance qualities such as teamwork, and life skills (Neil, 2003). Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards (2003) define experiential activity/adventure as the activities conducted in the wilderness such as camping, biking, hiking, and climbing that are participated in by individuals as a means of recreation or competition. However, it was later discovered that participation in these activities not only serves recreational needs but has major benefits on the psychological, social and physical wellness of a person (Etiene, 2004). It is therefore imperative to determine whether these benefits can be enjoyed through O.E.E by Kenya army (K.A) and administration police (A.P). Police are mandated to provide security and prevent commission of crime. For police to execute their duties well, the must have self confidence and people skills. Since O.E.E is believed to enhance some of the attributes that police need. This calls for research to be done within Kenyan set-up to ascertain these claims and more so with K.A and A.P personnel who are required by their job description to have good life effectiveness skills and teamwork. The effect of O.E.E on participants range from; psychosocial, life skills to physical benefits (Neil, 2003 and Simpson, 2010). However, not many people, particularly in the developing countries, have fully embraced the tendency/tradition of participating in O.E.E. There is little documented evidence of how O.E.E in the Kenyan set-up can impact on those who engage in it, necessitating the need to fill this gap.
O.E.E is determined by the individual with the purpose of achieving personal development and growth (Glass 2002). Good teamwork skills are essential in bringing together warring groups, and better still, resolving conflicts (Ochieng, 2010). For instance, post election violence of 2007 in Kenya led to the need of having reconciliation and team building activities (Ochieng, 2010). It is in the light of this that a peace outreach and teambuilding program was organized by Kenya National Outreach, Counseling and Training Program. The participants were able to reconcile and made to change their attitude in the way they perceived others from different ethnic groups.
In Kenya, the concept of outdoor education is gaining ground through institutions such as Outward Bound, Mark Savage White Water Rafting and Mount Kenya School of Adventure and Leadership (KESAL). KESAL was established in 1991 as a government O.E.E centre based in the Mount Kenya region. It uses a heuristic approach to learning, which encompasses self discovery and actualization. KESAL focuses on short, but intensive training programmes for responsible leadership and good citizenship (Kesal, 2010).
Kolb’s experiential learning theory as advanced by Greenway (2002) comprises a number of learning cycles. According to Kolb, the conventional education system that is largely embraced in the world fails to provide students with the reflective part. The concept of experiential learning provides participants with action/activity from which learning lessons can be drawn from. The Kolb’s theory has not been fully applied in majority of education sectors in Kenya since a lot of emphasis is placed on passing examinations rather than developing and enhancing adequate life effectiveness and teamwork skills.
1.2 Problem Statement
The world has become more dynamic, and as a result, competition for jobs and the limited resources is on the rise. This has culminated to many people attending learning institutions to gain knowledge and relevant skills, but still, the challenges of effective teamwork, time management, positive self concept, emotional stability and initiative have not been well tackled and more so on daily life challenges that require heightened self confidence, self concept teamwork, social skills and intellectual flexibility(Simpson, 2010). The above mentioned skills come in very handy in police work who must have self confidence, teamwork and social competence so as to deal with their responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Few officers from K.A and A.P attend O.E.E since it is one of requirement before they get promotion, it has not been well established whether number of years in service have a bearing on development of life skills and teamwork. According to David (2003), the conventional education has fallen short to fully enhance individuals with skills of tackling daily life and work related challenges because the emphasis has been more on excelling in examinations rather than enhancing life skills and teamwork which are better achieved in outdoor education. Despite the importance of outdoor education in imparting life skills and teamwork, limited research has been carried out in Kenya to find how participation in O.E.E can help in bridging the gap between theoretical concepts and real life experience. It is in the light of this that it becomes necessary to find out how O.E.E can impact on individuals’ life skills and team work.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
Purpose of this study will be to analyze the impact of outdoor education on team-work and life effectiveness skills of K.A and A.P personnel. The life effectiveness skills include time management, social competence, achievement motivation, task leadership, emotional control, intellectual flexibility, active initiative and self confidence, while teamwork attributes include sharing of information, group problem solving, group working, assisting in determining goals of the group and understanding activities.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study will be to:
1.5 Research Hypotheses
H01 O.E.E will not have significant effect among K.A and A.P on life skills that include:
H03 There will be no significant difference before and after O.E.E. in terms of teams working skills among K.A and A.P.
H04 O.E.E will not have a significant difference in enhancing life skills and teamwork among K.A and A.P across their rank before and after participating in O.E.E.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be a yardstick to other researchers who intend to carry out similar researches in other institutions to investigate the possible outcomes of engaging in O.E.E thereby, enhance literature on outdoor programs as well as the justify the rationale why K.A and A.P. take their officers for O.E.E. The study aims at providing basic, but concrete, information to physical educators, participants and the general public pertaining to the effect of participating in O.E.E. It is also likely to encourage other researchers in the same field to engage in more research on O.E.E as well revising and expanding existing knowledge in this field.
1.7 Delimitations of the Study
1). The research will be delimited to K.A and A.P personnel undertaking O.E.E leadership course at KESAL.
2).The study will rely on self-reporting information from the subjects.
The study will focus on K.A and A.P officers who will have trained together and known one another. It therefore follows that generalizations of this study may not be applicable to other groups undertaking O.E.E who may not necessarily have had an opportunity of having prior interaction and training.
1.9 Assumptions of the Study
i) The respondents will respond appropriately to the questionnaire.
ii) The information provided by the respondents will be truthful.
iii) Any changes observed will be as a result of engagement in O.E.E and not any other factors outside participation in outdoor leadership course.
1.10 Theoretical Framework
This study will be based on Experiential Learning Theory advanced by Kolb (1984), who asserts that concrete experience comes not only from classroom work but through reflection of experiences one gets from participating in the activities and as a result of drawing knowledge and skills from it. Kolb highlights the need of presenting content in relation to previous experiences in constructing own model of experiential education. In O.E.E, the learner is expected to derive learning opportunity by participating in the activities given, and in which he /she can draw experiences that are believed to assist the individual in coping with daily stresses of life as well as developing skills that will assist in dealing with challenges in a better way (Ibid).
In the initial phase, the facilitator engages the learners in a tangible experience in form of a play, demonstration or even a game. The learners then review the experiences from many perspectives by asking themselves questions like what happened? What did I observe? The second phase is the reflective observation where participants look back critically on what they did and lapses, as well as areas they did well. Here they analyze how well they communicated, managed time, initiated new and workable ideas, how well they remained calm during the execution of the task and how they accommodated each other’s views and opinions. During the third phase of abstract conceptualization, the learners develop theories and look at patterns. They ask themselves questions like: how do you account for what you observed? and How is it significant? It is at this phase that any change in life effectiveness skills is expected to take place by making participants to be in a position to learn from their mistakes and understand how their can enhance the good attributes. The last phase is active experimentation; the learners suggest ways of applying learnt principles and ask themselves questions like; how can we apply this learning? In what ways can we use it next time? What would we do differently? After going through the four phases, the learners are expected to draw concrete experience which they can transfer to other areas in their life like proper time management and collaborating with others. Life effectiveness skills and team work will be captured in the 4 stages of Kolb learning theory of experiential learning by having learners execute task that will be presented, reflecting, conceptualization and putting into practice what they have learnt.
In summary, Kolb’s theory in relation to experiential outdoor education is illustrated
Figure 1: Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning (Adapted from Kolb, 1984)
Experiential learning theory provides a model that enables learners to draw from their past experiences to acquire new knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes that they can then apply in their organizational settings like life effectiveness skills and teamwork.
1.11 Operational Definition of Terms
Achievement Motivation– Self perception of the extent to which the individual is driven to achieve excellence and put the required effort into action to attain it.
Active Initiative– The extent to which the individual likes to ignite action and get busy in new situations.
Experiential Education– The process through which a learner constructs knowledge, skill, and value from direct experiences in outdoor activities.
Emotional Control-The extent to which individuals perceives they manage to stay calm in stressful situations and overcome anxiety.
Intellectual Flexibility-The extent to which individuals perceive they can adapt their thinking and accommodate new information from changing conditions and different perspectives.
Outdoor Activity/Adventure- Activities that are conducted in nature, and done by individuals or group, for recreation, competition and for learning purpose.
Outdoor Education- An experiential and active process of learning by doing, which takes place primarily through exposure to selected outdoor activities.
Self Confidence-The degree of belief the individual has in his abilities and the success of his actions.
Social Competence – The degree of personal confidence in ability to interact and communicate with others.
Task Leadership-The extent to which the individual perceives he can provide direction to other people effectively when a given assignment needs to be done
Team Work-perception of willingness to share information, solving group’s problems, sharing work and assisting in determining the common goals and activities for the group.
Time Management-The extent that an individual perceives that he makes optimum use of time and avoids time wastage
This chapter deals with review of related literature that pertains to the role of O.E.E in enhancing an individual’s life skills. It will look at History of O.E.E, benefits of outdoor activities, trends of O.E.E, outdoor experiential education and lifelong skills, outdoor experiential education and life effectiveness skills and teamwork.
2.1 History of Outdoor Experiential Education
The birth of O.E.E is much attributed to Kurt Hahn who realized that soldiers at sea were dying in large numbers during combat. He believed that character development was as important as academic achievement (Flavin, 1996). Due to the ills of the society, he advocated for a hands-on, real and practical challenges that were aimed at character development of an individual (Ibid). O.E.E has also been referred to as adventure therapy, adventure recreation, environmental education, experiential education and challenge education (Cook, 1999 and Gass, 2003). O.E.E became evident in late 19th century and early 20th century. Across the world, O.E.E is most prevalent in USA, UK, New Zealand, Europe and it is gaining ground in Asia and Africa (Cook, 1999).
2.2 Benefits of Outdoor Experiential Education
Through participation in O.E.E, it is believed that there exists a psychological and or physical risk which generates a level of challenge or perceived risk that forms the base of deriving life long experiences (Gass, 2003). Challenges in life are imperative in drawing out desired behavioral changes. It is believed that being in wilderness and the natural setting, and actively engaging in activities helps individuals learn something about themselves that they had never known before, leading to self discovery (Scherl 1982). As noted by ken (2006) and Davidson (2003), experiential learning takes place when one participates directly in the events presented and as a result of reflecting on the situation, one gets the opportunity to improve skills on leadership, time management, and social interaction and above all, self confidence that are essential in dealing with challenges of life. Paul (2001), there exists five main importance of engaging in O.E.E as opposed to the class room setting. The author argues that outdoor education is good for the mind. Outdoor recreation has psychological benefits, including the prevention or reduction of stress; improved self-esteem, confidence and creativity and spiritual growth (Paul 2001). It is further noted that exposure to O.E.E tends to provide unambiguous, neutral and immediate feed back which is a recipe for adaptive coping rather than resulting to defense mechanisms (Skehil, 2004).
2.3 Trends of Outdoor Experiential Education
O.E.E has gained popularity more so in industrialized countries and the trend is gaining ground in the developing countries of Africa and Asia (Priest and Gass, 2001). It is also becoming the widespread business of learning and teaching when at the same time, there is a decline in wilderness resources upon which it depends (Miles, 1986). The lack of adequate research in Kenya on the how O.E.E is impacting on individuals engaging in it, is a major concern and thus the need to have more findings on how organizations taking their employees for teambuilding can quantify the purpose and reasons for spending money on such trainings. The ongoing urbanization has delineated people away from environments that were previously believed to guide their genotype evolution. This creates a mass disconnection from natural environment culminating to problems related to physical, social, psychological health and well being of world populace (Maller et al, 2002). These assertions need to be explored to the fullest so that many organizations in Kenya can utilize outdoor education should it be found worth.
The world is becoming more dynamic by presenting more and complex challenges to its populace than before. Work environment and employing organization are placing more demands to their employees who must perform well and achieve results (David, 2008). Apart from the academic certificates, the organization are more specific on other attributes like leadership skills, self confidence, team working skills and ability to thrive under pressure, attributes that are well enhanced in outdoor education, which has seen an enormous mushrooming of outdoor organization across the globe (Rebeca,2002). More information and research thus needs to be done in Africa to determine whether people engaging in O.E.E can reap benefits that can translate to their performance.
2.4 Outdoor Experiential Education and Lifelong Skills
O.E.E imparts to its participants directly by having participants immerse themselves fully to the items presented which range from initiative tests, games and other elements like ropes course and rock climbing ( Neil,2003). According to Davidson (2003), outdoor experiential education is holistic and enhances lifelong skills that help participants; socially, emotionally, physically and academically. This is further supported by Coopersmith (2002), Roland (2004) and NASSPA (2007) who believes that outdoor activities are crucial components that improve the self esteem of an individual positively. Participating in outdoor activities as opposed to regular exercising helps participants in promoting physical, social and psychological self esteem and teamwork at the same time (Coopersmith 2002 and Roland, 2004). Despite the articulated benefits of outdoor experiential education, Africa and other developing countries are rated to have low participation due to few outdoor education institutions (Priest & Gass, 2001).
2.5 Outdoor Experiential Education and Social Competence, Emotional Control, Teamwork and Active Initiative.
Dembar, (2006) asserts that outdoor activity encompasses varying techniques and environments to elicit change that make participants get equipped with skills which impact positively on their life. These activities include cooperative games, problem solving initiatives, trust building activities, high ropes courses and peak ascents (Gass and McPhee 2003). O.E.E not only helps individual in improving social skills but encompasses equipping participants with skills that are essential in work environment like planning, teamwork and competency which are essential in transforming the organization towards achieving its goals (Geoffrey, 2005). The great outdoors afford social benefits like bonding with like-minded people, controlling ones emotion so as to fit well with others and having good inter and intra personal relationship,(Bruce, 2006). It is thus imperative to find whether such benefits can be achieved in Kenya.
2.6 Related Studies
Research done by Hattie et al (2004) in Australia involving a sample size of 3000 participants engaging in a 16 days Australian O.E.E established that the students enhanced their leadership skills, self concept, personality and interpersonal relationship with the time management having the greatest significance. He used quasi-experimental research design with p value set at 0.05. He also applied a repeated measures multivariate ANOVA to analyze the data (Neil, 1999). Despite the big sample size, the research was not based in Africa and it is hence imperative to find out whether O.E.E in Kenya can derive out similar results.
Research by Rahman, (2009) on effects of O.E.E on students’ social emotional competencies comprised 40 high school students in Singapore. The duration of the outdoor course was 8 weeks. The research findings indicated medium to large effects to the participants’ social emotional competence. Mean scores, standard deviations and person correlation values were calculated using standardized mean difference. This research failed to consider significance difference based on age and did not look at effect of O.E.E on team work.
Muthomi (2008) found that there was significance difference to selected life skills of 260 staff from corporate organizations after attending a 3 days outdoor program. The data was analyzed using paired t-test and ANOVA. The duration was short necessitating looking further into effects of a prolonged outdoor course. The study utilized a lesser range of activities not including energy draining ones like navigation, expedition and ropes course thus the need to incorporate them in this research.
Research by Neil (2008) in Australia to determine the effects O.E.E has on individuals life skills had a sample size of 3640 participants found that life skills were greatly enhanced. Data was analyzed using paired t-test and MANOVA. The group comprised of adolescents, family, special population, corporate and young adults. This group did not focus on police and army personnel hence the need to find out what effects O.E.E have on these group and within the Kenyan set up.
2.7 Summary of Literature Review
This chapter has highlighted literature on the effects of O.E.E to selected life skills. It has also covered related research in outdoor education and exposed emerging gaps and shortcoming of previous research. Some of the shortcomings are the locations of the study whereby most of the research were done outside. Neil (2008) and Rahman (2009) carried their research on effects of O.E.E on selected life skills outside this country, and none of them carried out research on effects of O.E.E on police and military personnel. It is thus imperative to find out whether similar findings can be derived within the Kenyan set-up and more so with police and military personnel. Muthomi (2003), in her doctoral thesis focused on corporate groups who underwent a 3 days program, thus the need to find out whether an 11 days O.E.E course in a different set-up can produce similar results on K.A and A.P. Research by Muthomi (2008), Neil (2008) and Rahman (2009) all focused on the effects of O.E.E on life effectiveness skills but did not look at the effects O.E.E can have on teamwork, which researcher intends to find out.
This chapter describes research design, location of the study, target population, sample size and sampling techniques, research instruments, variables, reliability and validity, pilot study, data collection techniques, data presentation and analysis and logistical considerations.
3.1 Research Design
This will be a case study that will investigate the effect of O.E.E on individuals’ life effectiveness skills and teamwork from K.A and A.P. According to Robert (2009), a case study is normally based on in-depth investigation of group, single individual or event with the aim of exploring the causes. Since the research will look at effect of O.E.E on individual’s life skills, a case study will adequately serve the purpose of the research. The case study will be used in this research where by participants from K.A and A.P personnel will be the study subjects. The participants will be undergoing the 11 days O.E.E course at KESAL. The researcher will employ single-group quasi-experimental pretest-post test design whereby O.E.E will be the treatment. According to William (2006), quasi experimental employs a pre and post test to the group which is studied so that one can determine any significance difference before and after the research. Since the study will be looking at the effect of O.E.E on participants from K.A and A.P, a quasi experimental design will be appropriate.
3.2 Location of the Study
The study will be conducted at KESAL, which is a training center where trainees from K.A and A.P regularly go for their O.E.E and leadership. KESAL is located on the eastern side of Mount Kenya (6 figure grid reference-255071).
3.3 Target Population
The target population for this study will comprise of participants whom will have been selected by the K.A and A.P participating in an outdoor leadership program at KESAL. The total population that attends experiential outdoor leadership course in a year from K.A and A.P is 280 (100 from K.A and 180 from A.P).
3.4 Sampling Techniques and Sample Size
On an average KESAL conducts 4 courses in a year for the K.A and A.P. The researcher will select 2 courses (50%) out of the 4 (100%). On average, the K.A recruits 50 participants and A.P recruits 90 participants for each course. The researcher will use the census approach to select the subjects, that is, everyone attending the two courses from K.A and A.P, will compose the sample size. The sample size will therefore be 140 subjects (50 from K.A and 90 from A.P). This will be a proportion of 50% of the target population, and this is adequate in a quasi-experimental research (William, 2006).
3.5 Research Instruments
The researcher will adopt life effectiveness questionnaire (LEQ-H) and self designed questionnaire on teamwork (appendix B). The LEQ-H was developed by James Neil and has been used in many research of O.E.E as a tool of measurement of life effectiveness skills and is recognized to have high validity and reliability (Neil, Marsh and Richards, 2003). The LEQ-H has 24 items which describe participant’s behaviors in Likert rating format with five point scale. LEQ-H is psychometrically sound, multidimensional, and linked to aims of O.E.E program and has been found to have high correlation coefficient above .96 (Neil etal, 2003).The adopted LEQ-H will cover the 8 subscales attributes on life skills which will include; time management, social competence, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, task leadership, emotional control, active initiative and self confidence. The self designed questionnaire on teamwork will be subjected to a pilot study to determine its reliability and validity. It will have 5 subscales which will include; willingness to share information, solving group’s problems, sharing work and assisting in determining the common goals and activities of a group. The respondents will rate themselves on how well the statement describes them and award themselves the appropriate rating.
Participants’ age will be the independent variable whereas selected attributes of teamwork and life effectiveness skills like, time management, task leadership, social competence, achievement motivation, emotional control, intellectual flexibility, active initiative and self confidence will be the dependent variables. The academic level, gender and rank will be examined as demographic variables.
3.7 Reliability and Validity
To determine reliability and validity of LEQ-H and self designed questionnaire on teamwork within Kenyan set up, the researcher will conduct a pilot study with participants from trainer of trainers who will not form the target group for the final data collection. Also, experts in area under investigation will be requested to analyze the relevance of research tools and instruments and their recommendations will be incorporated. A split half method will be employed to determine correlation coefficient whereby questionnaire will be split into half and responses subjected to correlation. For research tools and instruments to have good reliability and validity the correlation should be .80 and above.
3.8 Pilot Study
The purpose of the pilot study will be to determine the reliability and validity of the research instruments in the Kenyan situation (as highlighted above). Stratified random sampling procedure will be used to select 15 participants from trainer of trainers who will be undertaking an O.E.E leadership course at KESAL. During the pilot study, the research assistants will also get an opportunity to fine tune their skills in administering LEQ-H and self designed questionnaire on team work.
3.9 Data Collection Techniques
The adopted LEQ-H and self designed questionnaire on teamwork will be administered in two phases (before and after training). The questionnaire will be administered on the first and last day of training. This will help in determining whether any change will have taken place as a result of engaging in O.E.E. The respondents will fill the (LEQ-H) and self-designed questionnaire items on teamwork which will include; willingness to share information, solving group’s problems, sharing work and assisting in determining the common goals and activities of a group. The LEQ-H will capture attributes like active initiative, self confidence, time management, social competence, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, task leadership and emotional control (appendix B). Since the two groups from K.A and A.P will not be doing the course at the same time, the researcher will collect the data independently, with content and facilitation method remaining the same.
3.10 Data Presentation and Analysis
The data obtained from this study will be analyzed using descriptive statistics which will be used to determine any significant difference between pre and post test results. The collected data will be presented in tables, pie charts and graphs. The significance level will be set at 0.05. The effect and impact of O.E.E on participant’s life skills will be analyzed using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Gender, age, academic will be treated as demographic variables.
3.11 Logistical and Ethical Considerations.
Prior to the research, relevant authorization letter will be sought from the Department of Recreation Management and Exercise Science of Kenyatta University and a research permit from the Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology. The participants will also fill consent letter (appendix A) which explains the purpose of the study, confidentiality and which requests them for their voluntary participation in the research.