chapter  10
14 Pages

Structured feedback in outdoor adventure education: What are we accomplishing?

ByFRANK VERNON

Introduction Experiential approaches to education, despite popularity amongst stalwarts (e.g. Kolb, 1984; Warren et al., 2008) and budding supporters (e.g. Eyler, 2009; Rudolph et al., 2007), have been suffering a recent identity crisis. Oft-cited theoretical and practical influences grounded in cognitive epistemologies (e.g. Kolb, 1984) and moral psychology (e.g. Hahn, 1934) are being openly critiqued as inadequate and naïve, aristocratic and militaristic (Brookes, 2003a, 2003b; Brown, 2009, 2010; Delandshere, 2002; Fenwick, 2001; Quay, 2003; Roberts, 2008; Seaman, 2007, 2008; Seaman and Coppens, 2006; Seaman and Nelson, 2011; Worsley, 1985). Further, overs implified translations misconstrue influential scholars’ work as compatible, if not mutually informative (e.g. Joplin, 2008; Panicucci, 2007), adding to the already murky waters through which educators must identify educative practices. While early views of experiential learning founded on individual, cognitivist epistemologies were undoubtedly helpful in shaping a distinguish able field of practice, the growing chorus advocating a paradigm shift warrants discussion. It may be, appropriating a potential alternative framework highlighted by Seaman (2007) that members of the experiential education field have identified a structural contradiction (Engeström, 2001) impeding, if not derailing, our purposeful, cultural-historical activities as educators and scholars. If this is the case, a readjustment of habit (Dewey, 1922) may yield what Engeström (2001: 137) refers to as ‘expansive learning’, ‘accomplished when the object and motive of the activity are reconceptualised to embrace a radically wider horizon of possibilities than the previous mode of the activity’. Or, to put it another way, individual-cognitivist orientations to learning, such as Kolb’s (1984) interpretation of others’ learning theories as cycles and the educational structures these objectifications then informed, are in tension with stated goals of negotiating and maintaining educational experiences of lasting and identifi able value. As alternatives, these authors advocate adopting socio-cultural theories of learning historically rooted in the work of John Dewey and Lev Vygotsky, as well as scholars who have furthered this work (e.g. Engeström, 2001; Lave and Wenger, 1991; Rogoff, 1993).