This report summarises the research findings based on a total of 10 participants, using a pre-program to post-program administration of a self-report questionnaire. The results are based on a sample size of 6 as the analysis requires full data sets. This report is an evaluation of one 56 Day Adventure Therapy Program run in September - October, 1996. The Program involved one resident from each of 10 drug rehabilitation Therapeutic Communities within Australia and New Zealand. The report should be considered a pilot study, because of the limited sample size and the lack of a long-term follow up evaluation. Further, this report is written for general use by policy makers, program co-ordinators, and instructors. Readers seeking further information regarding follow-up processes and educational research issues should contact the author.
Summary of "Life Effectiveness Questionnaire" results:
The Life Effectiveness Questionnaire (LEQ-H) (Neill, Richards, & Marsh, 1996) was used to assess the functioning of individuals before and after the Action Adventure program. The LEQ-H was developed through the University of Western Sydney to evaluate the outcomes of experiential education programs and personal development intervention programs.
Using the LEQ-H, participants evaluate themselves on how effective they are in their living and working (or school) lives. There are 24 questions that are responded to using the following scale:
The 24 questions in the LEQ-H can be summarised into the 8 areas of functioning shown in Table 1.
Table1: The Life Effectiveness Dimensions.
The extent that optimum use is made of time.
The degree of personal confidence and ability in social interactions
The extent to which the individual is motivated to achieve excellence and put the required effort into action to attain it.
The extent to which the individual can adapt their thinking and accommodate new information from changing conditions and different perspectives.
The extent to which an individual can lead other people effectively when a task needs to be done and productivity is the primary requirement.
The extent to which the individual maintains emotional control when they are faced with potentially stressful situations.
The extent to which the individual likes to initiate action in new situations.
The degree of confidence the individual has in their abilities and the success of their actions.
Participants’ responses were statistically analysed. The results are reported in Table 2. The mean group responses for each LEQ-H dimension for pre-program and post-program self-assessments is shown as "[SCALE] 1" and "[SCALE] 2" respectively. The value of particular interest is the effect size. The effect size is a measure of how much change occurred for each LEQ-H scale and is more meaningful than tests of statistical significance. To help interpret the size of changes, a descriptor is provided. These descriptors are detailed in Table 3. This provides a useful comparison because it outlines the size of changes achieved by other outdoor education programs. A summary discussion of the statistics completes the analysis.
Table 2: Summary Statistics for the Life Effectiveness Dimensions.
|AGE in YEARS
|TIME MANAGEMENT 1
|TIME MANAGEMENT 2
|SOCIAL COMPETENCE 1
|SOCIAL COMPETENCE 2
|ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION 1
|ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION 2
|INTELLECTUAL FLEXIBILITY 1
|INTELLECTUAL FLEXIBILITY 2
|TASK LEADERSHIP 1
|TASK LEADERSHIP 2
|EMOTIONAL CONTROL 1
|EMOTIONAL CONTROL 2
|ACTIVE INITIATIVE 1
|ACTIVE INITIATIVE 2
|SELF CONFIDENCE 1
|SELF CONFIDENCE 2
|AVERAGE SCALE EFFECT SIZE:
Table 3: Effect Size Scale.
||% of average change
for Outdoor Education
|Amount of Change
0 to 0.055
0.056 to 0.165
0.166 to 0.275
0.276 to 0.385
0.386 to 0.495
0.496 to 0.605
0.606 to 0.715
0.716 to 0.825
0.826 to 0.935
1 - 25%
26 - 75%
76 - 125%
126 - 175%
176 - 225%
226 - 275%
276 - 325%
326 - 375%
376 - 425%
Examination of the effect sizes for the program reveals that overall, a ‘very high’ degree of change was achieved for the participants. In examining the program objectives, it is pleasing to see the area of Social Competence reported as "high." Considering our client group, we are looking for indications of changes such as this, where the participants have displayed an ability to learn from each other in a supportive social environment. This may well result from the greater amount of social interaction necessary for participation on an outdoor education experience. Tasks such as cooking, making camp, navigating, and learning through new experience, demand greater social interaction. The reported improvement in Social Competence, if sustained, should be a valuable gain for the participants as they face future challenges. Included in the "high" range were the areas of Time Management and Task Leadership which indicates that our goal of teamwork was effectively met. The participants’ self-reported increase in their ability to manage time suggests greater self-sufficiency.
The "outstanding and very high" rating results in the categories of Achievement Motivation and Emotional Control suggest an increase in the participant’s motivations to achieve and succeed. This indicates that their ability to push limits and overcome obstacles may have improved, and that they are perhaps less fearful and stressed under these circumstances.
The smallest changes were "below average" (compared to results for other outdoor education programs) and were found for Self Confidence, Active Initiative and Intellectual Flexibility. The "below average" findings for Self Confidence and Intellectual Flexibility appear to be partly a result of these scales having large standard deviations - in other words, there was a wide spread of individual scores, which caused an overall reduction in the effect size. A larger sample size, on the same program, may well have produced stronger results for these categories. The "below average" result for Intellectual Flexibility is a reasonable finding, particularly given that development of academic ability or thinking skills was not set as on objective and consequently the program was not designed to effect a large change in this area. The "no change" result for Active Initiative is difficult to understand as it is an unusual finding. I can only suggest that the "experiential" perspective of the program saw all the participants engaging in a range of completely new and challenging (perhaps perceived as dangerous or threatening) activities. We must also take into account that this program is seen as a compliment to the ongoing "mainstream" rehabilitation process.
It must be emphasised that the results are to be considered as a pilot study. A full research report, at a minimum, would require follow-up testing and preferably utilise a larger sample size. Follow-up testing would determine whether the changes were long-lasting, or a function of what is known as ‘post-group euphoria’, that is, a warm feeling at the end of a group experience which fades on returning to normal life. Nevertheless, the results are very promising, and they reveal an overall increase in self-confidence and this indicates that participants finished the program feeling much better about themselves and their abilities.