Seeing the Growth: Strengthening Teacher Connectedness Through Outward Bound Excursions


  • Shani Rose Turke Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Stephanie V. Caldas University of North Texas
  • Anna Kågesten Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Jennifer Parsons Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Ji Young Ahn Johns Hopkins University
  • Peter Winch Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health



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


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.

Author Biographies

Shani Rose Turke, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Department of Population Family and Reprodutive Health

Stephanie V. Caldas, University of North Texas

Department of Pyschology, College of Arts and Sciences

Anna Kågesten, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Jennifer Parsons, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health

Ji Young Ahn, Johns Hopkins University

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Peter Winch, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Department of International Health


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