Seeing the Growth: Strengthening Teacher Connectedness Through Outward Bound Excursions

Shani Rose Turke, Stephanie V. Caldas, Anna Kågesten, Jennifer Parsons, Ji Young Ahn, Peter Winch


Positive teacher-student relationships are protective for various health outcomes in adolescence. Evidence suggests that outdoor education programs, such as Outward Bound (OB), have the potential to encourage social skill development, but little research has investigated programs’ effects on teacher-student relationships. This study assessed high-school teacher connectedness following participation in OB excursions. Twelve in-depth interviews with teachers and two focus groups with OB instructors were conducted in the Chesapeake Bay area. Data were analyzed in Atlas.ti using an iterative, Grounded Theory methodology. As OB trips altered the role teachers often played in their classrooms, informants perceived increased trust with participating students as they developed shared memories. The effects of OB extend beyond individual-level outcomes to encourage positive relationships between high-school teachers and their students. Given these findings, educators may want to consider incorporating outdoor education programs into their curricula as a way to engage teachers and students beyond their prescribed roles in the classroom.


student-teacher relationship; growth and development; child and adolescent health; program evaluation; school psychology

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