Research in Outdoor Education


In the field of outdoor education, the be­lief that outdoor adventure programs have the ability to increase the participants' self-efficacy has long been. used to defend program existence and to give more credi­bility to the discipline (Berman & Ber­man, 1994; Cockrell, 1991; Ewert, 1989; Miles & Priest, 1990). Although outdoor adventure programs are based on the as­sumption that a positive effect on indi­viduals' self-efficacy will carry over into the participants' lives after the course, there is little empirical research on this topic. In Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards' (1997) meta-analysis of research on adventure programs, they point out the need to study the development of self­-efficacy and to test specifically for efficacy (rather than self-concept in general or self-esteem). They suggest using alter­native research designs to enhance the standard pre-test, post-test design so commonly used in our field. In this paper, we address the theoretical and methodo­logical issues raised by Hattie et al. (1997), as well as the question of the transference of self-efficacy gained on an outdoor adventure course to individuals' everyday lives. The paper reports on a study of self-efficacy in adult Outward Bound participants, and the level of trans­ference of self-efficacy gains to everyday life.