Archives for category: Lit. Review

I have attached a PDF of my lit review on Adventure Learning. I am sure that there will be modifications, additions, and generally re-mashing of the product before my masters has been completed.



The focus of this paper is to provide a framework for educators to implement the AL@ approach to Adventure Learning (AL). The authors used a number of plot programs to devel;op the AL@ approach. AL is unique in adventure education because it is “grounded on theory, practice, and research with continuous development and refinement.” (Veletsianos & Kleanthous, 2009). AL has been refined over the years from a 7 principle framework originally designed by Doering (2007) as a result of the GoNorth! program to one that also includes 2 principles via the learning technology collaborative in 2010 to allow for greater ease of implementation by educators. AL@ blends the principles of AL with a place-based model of education that highlights the connection and relationship to place. AL@ also decreases the barriers, as seen by the authors, of AL by using inexpensive technology to implement the program.

There were three pilot programs incorporated into the study paper. All pilot projects engaged students in authentic science in the field, a component of AL that has previously been the domain of experts only. The following take aways were provided from each pilot project:

First Pilot: troubleshooting technology in the field was the primary focus.

Second Pilot: Increased guidance for collaboration between students, teachers and content experts.

Third Pilot: AL@ approach was used within weekly environmental education programs for students.

The third pilot program had grade 5 and 6 students involved in media gathering, analyzing, reflecting upon, and uploading on a daily basis. This allowed students to become experts of their own experiences and when shared within a larger narrative resulted in a greater sense of purpose. The result of the three pilot programs was a series of lesson take aways that are summarized below.

Curriculum Development

Communication between teachers and program administration at the ground level of idea generation is very important. It was noted that teachers engages with the same online environment in different ways. Some used iPads and had students view trail reports (to be discussed later) individually while others viewed the content as a group. The authors concluded that creating concrete time constraints were important and that linking curriculum to localized exploration was also a key part of the success of the programs.

Education Basecamp

The thought of the basecamp was both person based and philosophy based. A physical entity needed to interact with the expedition team for content delivery, collaboration and problem solving so program content could be delivered uninterrupted. The philosophy behind the basecamp was a way of organizing experiences happening both in the classroom and in the field so that interactions could be efficient and this played a critical role in the engagement of audiences.


The most challenging component of the technology aspect is to build in collaborative and interactive components to the site. For the pilot programs wordpress was used as it was low cost and robust. The importance of determining what content media service was supported by the local educational institute was stated in the paper. Other media tools used for the programs were also chosen for their low cost and ease of use.

Photos – Lightroom (

Video – Handbrake for compression (

Video Host – Vimeo (

A key point that was made was the need for consent of release documents as a result of photography uploads.

Authentic Narratives

A template was created called the trail report that captured the day’s experiences from the participants perspective. This tool was a useful reflective tool, provided individualization, and acted as a procedural tool as well. It was also provided teachers with a formative assessment tool and reinforced a culture of inquiry with the students.

Next Steps

The key next step for the authors was to provide professional development for teachers to implement the AL@ program design. This Pro-D would help teachers

1. Develop web tools and media collection technology for the program

2. Provide hands on experiences with every aspect of the framework

3. Show linkages between the curriculum and the AL@ principles

Miller, B. G., Hougham, R. J., & Eitel, K. B. (2013). The practical enactment of Adventure Learning: Where will you AL@?. TechTrends, 57(4), 28-33.

Veletsianos, G., & Kleanthous, I. (2009). A review of adventure learning. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 10(6), 84-105.

Reflections and Thoughts

I think this is a great practical design for implementing Adventure Learning principles. It allows for teachers to utilize outdoor spaces in the immediate area in order to provide students the necessary space to undertake inquiry based learning. The focus on making it inexpensive and easy for teachers to use is also an important aspect of the framework. When reading this paper, I envisioned creating a google community that could share the learning by students. A dedicated website could be created easily to store the initial videos and curriculum linkages that students would go to before entering their local wild spaces to undertake their particular place-based inquiry projects.

Moos and Honkomp (2011) utilized the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to better understand the relationship between motivation and Adventure Learning (AL). SDT is based on 3 universal needs (Competence, Relatedness, and Autonomy) and when these needs are met individuals function and grow optimally (Deci & Ryan, 2008).

Moos and Honkomp (2011) argue that AL satisfies all three needs as follows:

Autonomy: encouragement of problem solving via facilitation of independent thought and promotion of student initiative.

Competence: mastery and control of environment

Relatedness: collaboration within environment satisfies belonging

Researchers proposed to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extend does adventure learning enhance learning in the area of social studies?
  2. To what extent does adventure learning enhance motivation as it relates to learning?
  3. To what extent does the SDT explain students’ perceptions of adventure learning?

Researchers used the AL environment The content was produced by a teacher from the middle school at which the grade 7 and 8 subjects attended. A total of 198 students participated, with a gender distribution of 61% female and 39% male. The study used a mixed-method approach with Quantitative measures from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and a pre/post test multiple choice measure. 5 Motivation Subscales from the MSLQ were used (Intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation, task-value, self-efficacy and control beliefs). Qualitative measures were derived from interviews of 3 grade 7 (2F, 1M) and 8 grade 8 (4F, 4M) students who volunteered for the interviews. The structure of the interview questions were guided by the MSLQ constructs and a concept-indicator model saw used to analyze the data.

3 sessions with the students were performed by the researchers. In the first session they were told that the teacher was going to Africa to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro and they would be receiving updates from him. A MSLQ was performed and a knowledge pretest was given to students. In the second session interviews were performed regarding the feelings around the AL experience. In the third session a second MSLQ was performed and a post-test was given.

Quantitative data showed high initial motivation, but a statistically significant increase was seen after AL in all motivation subclass of the MSLQ. Post-test scores also showed improvement. Qualitative data suggested two themes, the role of technology in the class and that student motivation in AL is best described by the SDT.

Theme 1 – students felt tech increased their understanding of the lesson and that AL was more effective than textbooks.

Theme 2 – Students were more engaged as they new the teacher (Relatedness), they showed feeling of success (Competence) and they wanted to learn and go to Africa (Intrinsic Motivation)

The qualitative data was used to link AL to learning through an increase in motivation.

The challenges with AL as noted by the researchers are as follows:

  1. Not all students actively engage in inquiry-based learning
  2. AL is costly to implement
  3. Small body of research in AL makes link with motivation difficult
  4. Hard to separate the novelty factor of AL from the actual learning environment

There were a number of limitations discussed by the researchers in regards to this study:

  1. Students volunteered to be interviewed
  2. There was a poor gender distribution and only 1 school participated
  3. The pre-test and post-test were identical
  4. Socially desirable answers to interview questions may have resulted as the teacher that created the AL was still at the school.

Moos, D.C., and Honkomp, B. (2011) Adventure learning: Motivating students in a minnesota middle school. Journal of research on technology in education. 43(3), 231-252

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology, 49(3), 182-185.

Reflections and Thoughts

I think the design of the AL environment in this study provides a unique was of designing subsequent AL designs. The familiarity of the instructor in the AL environment is a positive attribute. It has some issues with research design as noted above, but if motivation is increased via relatedness then a familiarity of the instructor would be good.

I would have like to see a different post-test in order to improve the validity of the study. The ability for the students to complete the AL program and have some insight into what to read or do from the pre-test does put into question the reliability of the outcomes.

The study has made me focus my MEd project into one of creating a local AL website that will link Science 8 curriculum with outdoor adventures in the Cascade mountains. If the study is correct in the interpretation of motivation then place-based relatedness should also improve motivation of students.

Hendrickson and Doering (2013) deviated from the traditional expedition style of adventure learning (AL) by targeting a specific region of the country. In this case the state of Minnesota was used to create a local AL environment for students to participate. The nine core principles of AL were used, based on dowering and miller’s (2009) framework, and are as follows:

  1. A defined issue and place
  2. Authentic narratives
  3. Element of Adventure
  4. Curriculum grounded in inquiry
  5. Collaboration and interaction between learners, experts, teachers, and content
  6. Synched learning opportunities between AL content and the curriculum
  7. An online venue to deliver the content
  8. Multiple media that enhanced the curriculum
  9. Scaffolding for teachers and learners

The researchers deduced that this framework wold be conducive to community building. There were two research questions that the study wanted to answer:

  1. “In what way did the AL learning environment, content, and collaboration space actively engage students in the learning process and why?”
  2. “In what way did the AL learning environment, content, and collaboration space spur community building and why?”

Three schools participated in the study. A total of 110 grade 4, 13 grade 5, and 3 classroom teachers were involved. 53% of the participants were girls and 47% were boys. The average time spent on the AL project was between 30-45min per week with an range of participation between classes of 5-9 weeks. 3 classes in the study were designated as gifted. The majority of students had access to the internet at home (97% of the 117 students surveyed prior to the study) and no prior use of any of the study websites had been used by participating students.

Researchers used both initial design and implementation of the design based research  method, while choosing to omit the study, redesign and reimplementation components of this method. Data was collected in the form of 2 student surveys, 6 surveys of teachers, 17 discrete observation times and 6 student focus groups.

Results were grouped into either cognitive (task persistence and focus) or emotional (attitude towards people and tasks) categories.


The ability to share, interact and create something relevant to their lives as well as the variety of components online (photos, video) contributed to both task persistence and focus. Students in focus groups also expressed that the ability to choose tasks rather than have teacher dictated work improved focus. Researchers noted that the use of new technology (novelty factor) may have been a contributing factor for the initial student focus levels.


84% of the post-study respondents expressed an interest in learning more about the content while 77% of the respondents said that they either learned more or had more fun with this project than others they had completed in school. 66% of the respondents said they learned more quickly with this format. Focus groups requested learning games from their teachers as a way of increasing excitement in other areas of school.

Hendrickson, J., & Doering, A. (2013) Adventure learning and learner engagement: frameworks for designers and educators. Journal of interactive learning research. 24(4), 397-424

Reflections and Thoughts

The majority of AL has used extreme excursions, such as the Go North! program (, in which students interact with experts who are based in Alaska. There is synchronous and asynchronous components to the learning environment. In this current study, an online environment was built around people and place of the state of Minnesota. Students from this state were able to learn in both an online environment and in a classroom based situation the same way traditional AL would be. I see a number of benefits to the modified system the current researchers employed.

  1. Students interact with environments that are local. Although an excursion to an extreme environment may appeal to some initially, the connection to place will be longer lasting if that environment is a students local space.
  2. In the current study students are able to add content to the online space related to the area that they live. This allows participants to become experts of their local space. The ownership of the students learning and the engagement in the process will increase.
  3. Interaction: students are going to be able to interact with others and develop pride in both the place they live and the learning and teaching they are performing. Teacher student interactions should become bi-directional as students are able to choose their learning paths.

As a result of reading this study, I think it would be interesting to initiate a similar program in BC. As both a culturally and geographically diverse province it would be exciting to allow students in various parts of the province to interact and teach others about the spaces they live.