• Beyond learning by doing: an exploration of critical incidents in outdoor leadership education

      Hickman, Mark; Stokes, Peter; UCLan and University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2015-08-03)
      This paper argues that outdoor leader education and training is generally characterized by the development of procedural skills at the expense of equally crucial but usually ignored, ‘soft skills’ (for example, contextualized decision making and reflection). Consequently, this risks producing practitioners with a potentially unsophisticated and limited awareness of the holistic outdoor environments and situations and an over-reliance on ‘how to’ skills which may, in turn, impede the development of links between theory and practice. This paper analyses a research project that undertook the application of critical incident theory to a study of undergraduates in a United Kingdom outdoor leadership degree programme in an attempt to promote and examine the processes of developing ‘softer’ reflective skills in the students. In addition, the paper’s argument and data, while not directly dealing with wider audiences (clients and national qualification bodies), provide inferences and allusions to potential consequent enhanced development and benefits of heightened reflective understanding and practice to these groups. Methodologically, the study examines a range of critical incidents in a purposive homogenous sample of 20 students from a vocational undergraduate outdoor studies course. Students were asked to identify and reflect on critical incidents in practice settings of their own choice. These settings spanned a range of contexts from outdoor centre work in the United Kingdom to assistant leadership positions on educational expeditions in remote locations overseas. Qualitative data analysis was carried out through the use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The findings supported the conceptual premise and indicated that outdoor leadership programmes need to develop a broader and holistic skills base rather than persist with the extant predilection towards primarily physical and technical skills. Allusion is made to the suggestion that this could ultimately potentially enhance effectiveness with clients and employability prospects. In summary, a focus on critical incident method early in education and training processes has the potential to equip practitioners with the holistic and complex set of skills required in the contemporary outdoor workplace.
    • Moments like diamonds in space: savoring the ageing process through positive engagement with adventure sports

      Hickman, Mark; Stokes, Peter; Gammon, Sean; Beard, Colin; Inkster, Allison (Informa UK Limited, 2016-10-07)
    • Recasting the 'technologies' of outdoor management development: An interpretivist perspective on the tools, models and processes used in the field

      Stokes, Peter; Moore, Neil; Hickman, Mark; Scott, Peter; Rowland, Caroline A.; University of Chester ; University of Chester ; University of Central Lancashire ; Liverpool John Moores University ; University of Chester (Inderscience Publishers, 2013-12-13)
      This paper investigates the models and tools commonly engaged in outdoor management development (OMD). The paper employs an interpretive methodology engaging participant observation and narrative techniques. A number of OMD providers were studied and this generated a rich body of data which is relayed and examined in the text. In spite of extensive theoretical contemporary debates and developments in wider human resource development domains, the study identifies that many practitioners working in experiential course settings continue to engage a predominantly positivistic, well–rehearsed, over–used, and indeed ageing, collection of models. The paper identifies linear and modernistic assumptions on which such models are predicated. OMD is a relatively longstanding form of training which continues to be used by a large number of individuals. The phenomenon therefore merits attention so as to better determine the social implications of the approach. The paper offers an original and innovative consideration of the tools generally employed in OMD programmes.
    • Sights and insights: Vocational outdoor students’ learning

      Hickman, Mark; Stokes, Peter; University of Central Lancashire; University of Chester (Outdoor Council of Australia, 2016-02-18)
      Outdoor leader and adventure sport education in the United Kingdom has been characterized by an over-emphasis on technical skills at the expense of equally important, but often marginalized intra- and inter-personal skills necessary for contemporary outdoor employment. This study examined the lived experience of vocational outdoor students in order, firstly, to identify what was learned about the workplace through using reflective practice and, secondly, what was learned about reflective practice through this experience. The study used a purposive sample of students (n=15) who were invited to maintain reflective journals during summer work experience, and this was followed up with semi-structured interviews. Manual Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) revealed that in the workplace setting students used reflective practice to understand and develop technical proficiency, support awareness of the value of theory, and acted as a platform to express emergent concepts of ‘professionalism’. Lessons about reflective practice emphasized its value in social settings, acknowledging different ways of reflection, and understanding and managing professional life beyond graduation.