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Research in Outdoor Education

Abstract

This study continues the examination of one of the largest and most established adventure education programs in the world, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Founded in 1965, NOLS has developed 11 branches worldwide and has graduated over 75,000 students. NOLS was originally known as a wilderness skills school, but quickly expanded their program goals and emphases to include leadership training, communication skills, expedition behavior, environmental awareness, and safety and judgment. NOLS courses include those for youth, adults, and intact groups who contract with NOLS for topic-specific courses. Courses range from eight days to months long semester courses. College credit is also available for some courses. As part of an on-going relationship between the University of Utah and NOLS, the study reported here is part of a series of efforts to develop and test a predictive model that would increase understanding of the relationships between participant characteristics, program components, and program outcomes for NOLS specifically. Such a predictive model would help explain how the NOLS process produces outcomes and how that process might be modified to produce additional or different outcomes. The model may also assist other adventure programs in better understanding how their programs produce outcomes.

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