A phenomenographical study of the qualitative variation of adventure / wilderness programme experiences among adolscent high school participants in the Western Cape

Zygmont, Conrad Stanislaw (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South African adolescents live in a transitional society during a life stage in which they seek to stabilise their identity. They face a heritage of widespread violence and poverty, the lived impact of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, incessant bombardment by media modelling leisure and vice, an erratic education system, and strained family and social bonds. Noting these challenges South African psychology seeks to become more socially relevant and provide formalised opportunities for positive youth development, supporting the growth of strengths and virtues, and making high human potential actual. Psychologists should seek to provide interventions that can turn the tide of social degeneration towards individual and community flourishing. Schools provide an optimal context for such interventions, with adventure programmes providing a valuable mechanisms by which holistic development, flow, interdependence, competence, and modelling of pro-social values can be experienced. This study sought to investigate the different ways in which one such school-based wilderness adventure programme was experienced and the specific aspects of the programme responsible for variation in outcomes using the methodology of phenomenography. Phenomenography is a research method used to map the qualitatively different ways in which people understand, perceive, or experience various aspects of a specific phenomenon. By understanding the different ways a phenomenon can be experienced, and identifying the critical aspects responsible for more or less powerful ways of experiencing the phenomenon, phenomenography provides a powerful tool for improving educational delivery but had yet to be used as a method to study psychological interventions. Phenomenographic analysis of the descriptions of the 27 day adventure programme, in which participants covered 360km on foot, bicycle and canoe, and engaged in group debriefs, journalling, and a 30 hour solo, revealed four conceptions of the programme: (a) long gruelling school hike, (b) school initiation / rites of passage programme, (c) once-in-a-lifetime group adventure, or (d) multifaceted learning and development opportunity. These categories of description are structured hierarchically, from least to most powerful, and are directly related to the perceived outcomes of the programme. At the lowest level, perceived processes and outcomes are largely physical, whereas at the highest level participants descriptions are more complex, and focused more on learning and developmental change that was accrued during the programme and could be transferred to the participant's home and social context. There are six major dimensions of variations that were identified in the data that help to understand the hierarchical relationships between the four identified categories of description. These include (a) the overall characterisation of the programme, (b) the nature of group interactions and processes, (c) the nature of the interactions and emotional connection participants had with their adult leaders, (d) the depth with which participants engaged with their experiences on the programme, (e) the personal relevance that trials, interactions and accomplishments had for participants, and (f) the type of growth and learning that was perceived to have accrued as a result of the wilderness adventure programme. These findings have important implications for both adventure programming design and implementation, and for research on psychological interventions.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrikaanse adolessente leef in ‘n oorgang samelewing gedurende ‘n lewensstadium waarin hulle poog om hul identiteit te stabiliseer. Hulle staar ‘n erfenis van wydverspreide geweld en armoede in die gesig, die geleefde impak van MIV/VIGS en dwelmverslawing, die aanhoudende bombardement deur die media wat ontspanning en onsedelikheid modelleer, ‘n wisselvallige onderwyssisteem, en gespanne gesins- en sosiale verbintenisse. Suid-Afrikaanse sielkunde het kennis geneem van hierdie uitdagings en poog om meer sosiaal relevant te word, en om geformaliseerde geleenthede te verskaf vir positiewe jeugontwikkeling wat die ontwikkeling van sterktes en deugde ondersteun, sowel as om hoë menslike potensiaal te aktualiseer. Sielkundiges behoort te streef om intervensies te verskaf wat sosiale agteruitgang kan verander in individuele- en gemeenskapsflorering. Skole verskaf ‘n optimale konteks vir so ‘n intervensie, met avontuur programme wat ‘n waardevolle meganisme verskaf deur middel waardeur holistiese ontwikkeling, vloei, interafhanklikheid, bevoegdheid, en die modellering van pro-sosiale waardes ondervind kan word. Hierdie studie het gepoog om die verskillende maniere te ondersoek van hoe so ‘n skoolgebaseerde wildernis avontuur program ondervind was, asook die spesifieke aspekte van die program wat verantwoordelik was vir die variasie in uitkomste deur middel van die gebruik van fenomenografiese metodologie. Fenomenografie is ‘n navorsingsmetode wat gebruik word om kwalitatief verskillende maniere te karteer van hoe mense verskillende aspekte van ‘n spesifieke fenomeen begryp, waarneem, of ondervind. Deur die verskillende maniere te verstaan van hoe ‘n fenomeen ondervind kan word, en deur die kritiese aspekte te identifiseer wat verantwoordelik is vir die òf meer òf minder kragtige maniere van hoe die fenomeen ondervind kan word, verskaf fenomenografie ‘n kragtige instrument wat aangewend kan word vir verbeterde onderwyslewering alhoewel die metode tot dusver nog nie aangewend is om sielkundige intervensies te bestudeer nie. Fenomenografiese analise van die beskrywings van ‘n 27-dag avontuur program, waarin deelnemers 360 km te voet, per fiets en kanoe gedek het, en deelgeneem het aan groepontlontings, dagboekhou, en ‘n 30-uur solo, het vier opvattings van die program onthul: (a) ‘n lang, uitmergelende skool staproete, (b) ‘n skool inwyding- / passasierite program, (c) ‘n eenmalige groep avontuur, of (d) ‘n veelsydige leer- en ontwikkelingsgeleentheid. Hierdie beskrywingskategorieë is hierargies gestruktureerd, van die mins tot die mees kragtig, en is direk verwant aan die waargenome uitkomste van die program. Op die laagste vlak is waargenome prosesse en uitkomste grootliks fisies, teenoor die hoogste vlak waar die beskrywings van deelnemers meer kompleks is, en meer gefokus is op leer- en ontwikkelingsverandering wat oploop tydens die program, en oorgedra kan word tot die deelnemer se huis- en sosiale konteks. Daar is ses hoof variasie dimensies wat geïdentifiseer is in die data wat lei tot ‘n beter begrip van die hierargiese verhoudings tussen die vier geïdentifiseerde beskrywingskategorieë. Hierdie sluit in (a) die algehele karakterisering van die program, (b) die aard van die groep interaksies en prosesse, (c) die aard van die interaksies en emosionele verband wat deelnemers gehad het met hulle volwasse leiers, (d) die diepte waarmee deelnemers geskakel het met hul ondervindings van die program, (e) die persoonlike relevansie wat beproewings, interaksies en prestasies gehad het vir die deelnemers, en (f) die tipe groei en leer wat ervaar is en vermeerder het as gevolg van die wildernis avontuur program. Hierdie bevindings het belangrike implikasies vir beide die ontwerp van avontuur programmering, die implementering daarvan, en vir navorsing op sielkundige intervensies.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86210
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