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Title: 'Raising achievement' in secondary schools? : a study of outdoor experiential learning
Author: Christie, E. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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In 1997 the Education Department of North Lanarkshire Council launched a multi-faceted Raising Achievement initiative aimed at increasing the potential of all primary and secondary school students. The initiative was introduced in response to the Education Department’s belief that the severe socio-economic deprivation prevalent in the district, has had a detrimental impact on the aspirations of its young people, leaving many with limited prospects (North Lanarkshire Council, 1998). This study focuses on the evaluation of one aspect of the overall Raising Achievement initiative: the Aiming Higher with Outward Bound programme. This programme was specifically intended to help raise achievement levels in 14-16 year old students through their participation in a five-day residential Outward Bound course. Every year since 1997, over a period of 15 weeks from October to February, around 25 percent of fourth year students in North Lanarkshire have been selected to take part in the programme. The programme was one of the first its kind to be introduced in secondary schools in Britain and, consequently, provided a significant opportunity for conducting original evaluative research. The evaluation of the programme demanded a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in order to give breadth and depth to the research. A ‘Life Effectiveness Questionnaire’ (LEQ) (Neill, 1997) was administered to all 14-16 year old students in six mainstream secondary schools. The sampled schools were selected from the population of 26 mainstream secondary schools. The LEQ was administered on three occasions (one month before, one month after and three months after the conclusion of the Outward Bound programme). This procedure was followed during two years of the programme and involved over 800 pupils. Group interviews were conducted with a sample of students who had attended Outward Bound (n=53). The 5-14 National Guidelines concept of ‘dispositions’ (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2000) provided a broad overall framework for analysis. This also made it possible to relate the findings to both the experiential outdoor approach and the mainstream approach to education. Although the results of the quantitative study showed no significant difference between the two groups in terms of their LEQ scores, interviews with those who participated in the programme pointed to positive overall effects in terms if the students’ perception of their social and academic skills. The students believed that these qualities have given then the ability to perform better in certain academic areas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available