Adventure Based Learning Experience (ABLE)

Robert M. White, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Durham
School of Education


For the purpose of this research project an outdoor education program was developed for students (aged between 10-14) displaying signs of emotional difficulties in engaging with school and family life.  The project investigated the effective use of an Integrated Adventure Based Educational program delivered in a complimentary milieu of classroom, outdoor and 'wilderness' venues.  Participants of the Adventure Based Learning Experience (ABLE) program reported positive change.  In interview, 86% of the students reported that their self-confidence had improved, 95% reported feeling more comfortable at school, and 64% believed that they had become more aware of the needs of others.  Furthermore, 88% say that they have an increased ability to regulate their emotions, and 75% say they have experienced more positive interactions with their family since participating in the program.  Outdoor education proponents have argued that a systematic approach to experiential learning through challenge can develop participants trust, social competence and group cohesion. This study demonstrates significant gains in social competence for 22 Year 8 students participating in the ABLE program as compared to the control groups. 

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