Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)
Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
Adventure education; Popular education; Experiential learning; Adult education
This study compares two innovative fields within adult education that originated contemporaneously in different parts of the world. These two fields are adventure education and popular education; both use experiential learning as a means for learners to construct knowledge. The focus of this study is to compare these two fields in order to provide practitioners from both with the opportunity to gain valuable insights and enrich each other's theory and practice. As an educator who has been involved in both adventure and popular education, the researcher found that most colleagues from these fields had little knowledge of each other's discipline. The premise of this study is that the sharing of theories and practices made possible by a comparative study would be valuable for educators from both fields. Four research questions formed the basis for this study: (1) What has been the extent of sharing among educators of these fields? (2) What theoretical relationships exist between the two fields? (3) How do the experiential aspects of their learning methodologies compare and contrast? and (4) In what way can each inform potential beneficial changes to the adult education practices of the other? This study used a constant comparative method of extracting theme and meaning and a hermeneutic analysis of terms, concepts and themes. The research was done using information acquired from key informants, current literature, out-of-print literature, and archival written materials. Twenty key informants were interviewed (10 from each field); these were leaders, authors or experienced practitioners in their field—a diverse group of individuals from nine countries who were able to provide valuable insights on their fields. The research took place in various sites in Latin America, North America and South Africa. The data section began with an examination of the theoretic underpinnings and historical development of each of these fields. The theories of each were then compared and contrasted, revealing common roots and distinct differences. The identification of dominant themes in each field was carried out and their meaning analyzed. To facilitate a comparison, these themes were matched with similar themes from the other field or other themes with a similar level of importance. A comparison of the principles, aims and the methodologies of both fields was also carried out. A review of the practices from each field helped show the potential benefits that could be gained from sharing. This study concludes that there has been little contact between educators of these fields. It identifies a variety of barriers that have kept educators apart, including language differences. Popular education literature is primarily in Spanish or Portuguese while adventure education literature is in English. There are substantial differences in the theoretical underpinnings, ideological perspectives, and methodologies used. This study suggests that sharing between educators in these fields could prove valuable and enrich both fields by informing potential beneficial changes.
Rutschman, Richard C., "An adult education comparative study of two experiential education fields : adventure education and popular education" (2002). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1077.
x, 187 pages
Northern Illinois University
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