Impact of an adventure education experience on collective teacher knowledge and teacher identity

Date

2007-12-13T18:03:55Z

Authors

Ference, Jennifer Elizabeth

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Abstract

This study examines the experiences of five teachers who lead and participate in adventure biking trips with students. The narrative case study was framed by the author’s autoethnographic writing: her personal narratives about leading adventure education trips, teaching experiences and reflections on the concept of learning. The meaning four other trip leaders made of their adventure biking experiences was investigated through conversational style interviews characterized by open ended questions and a list of issues to be explored. The purpose of the study was two-fold: to discover what meaning teachers make of adventure bike trip experiences and what happens when teachers collectively explore that meaning in relation to their teaching practice. The voices of the participants uncovered four meaningful elements of the trip experience: personal challenge, shifting perceptions of students and student learning, the opportunity to shed the teacher facade and positive collaboration with colleagues. As the participants collectively reflected upon these meanings they began to examine their in-school teaching practices in relation to the trip spaces. Tension between the two spaces opened up a dialogue where the participants began to challenge their teaching identity, enabling them to imagine their classrooms in a different light. The results of this study point to the need for teachers to have opportunities to participate in unique and novel teaching experiences (such as the adventure education trip) that hold within them the potential to initiate change in practice. In order to challenge education experiences, time and space need to be provided for teachers to reflect and develop teacher knowledge that can transfer into the development of positive, effective learning communities with colleagues and in their classrooms.

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Keywords

Teacher Knowledge, Experiential Education, Adventure Education, Professional Learning Communities

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