The longitudinal effects of a wilderness adventure program on potential school dropouts

Locke, Derek W. (1993) The longitudinal effects of a wilderness adventure program on potential school dropouts. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The primary purpose of this three-year longitudinal investigation was to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of a dropout prevention program that attempted to utilize wilderness adventure experiences to reduce the dropout proneness of a group of potential school dropouts. -- The subjects for this study were male junior high school students (Grades VII to IX) who attended Templeton Collegiate during the 1987-88 school year. All junior high students in the sample school were administered the Dropout Alert Scale (DAS) as part of a guidance orientation program. Those male students identified by the DAS as potential dropouts were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups (24 students in each group). A randomly-selected sample of male students identified by the DAS as potential persisters formed a second control group to control for potential dropout selection bias and to evaluate the discriminating power of the Dropout Alert Scale (DAS) with a sample of Newfoundland school students. -- The potential persisters were found to be significantly different before treatment from both groups of potential dropouts (control and experimental) on all selected school-related variables associated with dropouts. The selected variables included: age, years/grades repeated, percent of courses/credits passed, academic average and days absent. The DAS accurately identified as potential dropouts all of the students who subsequently dropped out of school over the three years of the study. -- The experimental program departed from conventional dropout intervention strategies in that it presented twenty-four potential dropouts with the challenge of successfully completing a five-day wilderness camping expedition. During the expedition, the school counsellor and an Army Cadet Instructor served as group leaders. Both leaders attempted to reduce the dropout proneness of the students by involving group members in a variety of learning experiences; specifically, adventure activities, communal living experiences, physical challenges, problem solving tasks, and group counselling sessions. All of these activities were conducted within a unique natural setting away from the normal influences of both home and school. -- The effectiveness of the program was analyzed over a three-year period with evaluations of the dropout rates of each of the three groups of students, as well as evaluations of selected school-related variables which have been reported to reliably differentiate potential dropouts from potential persisters. A probability level of alpha = p<.05 was considered significant. -- While there were no significant differences between the two groups of potential dropouts before treatment, there were significant differences between the experimental and control group of potential dropouts following treatment. The number of days absent was significantly lower for experimental group students than for control group students for both the 1987-88 and 1989-90 school years. It was also observed that while the differences were not statistically significant, the experimental group students attained better results than did the control group students on all the measured variables over the entire course of the study. -- The most important findings of this investigation concern those students who quit school during the three year period following the wilderness adventure treatment. It is encouraging to report that the experimental group's dropout rate was consistently lower than the control group and significantly lower (4.2 percent versus 29.2 percent) two years after treatment. Furthermore, the experimental treatment was found to have positively influenced even those students who eventually quit school. It was observed that the dropouts from the experimental group stayed longer in school and thus received significantly more formal education than did the dropouts from the control group.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10915
Item ID: 10915
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 102-109.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1993
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: High school dropouts; School camps.

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