The evaluation of Australian outdoor education activity has been conspicuous by its absence. While outdoor education in Australia is experiencing a dramatic growth in facilities and programs, while state departments of education are calling for 'school-based' evaluations, while accountability is becoming an increasingly likely prospect and while high-risk activities are acknowledged as common elements in outdoor education, Australian outdoor educators have yet to avail themselves of the benefits available through formal evaluation. One significant reason for this evaluation inactivity arises from the massive and often conflicting evaluation literature confronting outdoor educators. To help outdoor educators overcome both the daunting task of putting a sense of order into the myriad evaluation methodologies and the possibility of implementing an evaluation unsuited to the outdoor educator's needs, this study presents two dimensions from which the outdoor educator might usefully view evaluation methodologies. The first dimension is that of the prepositional and tacit knowledge value bases, which will help the outdoor educator to understand better not only his own aims/approaches to education, but also the type of knowledge valued as important by specific evaluation methodologies. The second dimension is that of program awareness, which will aid the outdoor educator to identify the levels of descriptiveness or depth and the type of personal involvement by the evaluator which the outdoor educator would be seeking through formal evaluation. Application of these dimensions includes a review and classification of evaluation literature within these dimensions, commencing with the 'pre-Tyler' period, thence Tyler, Glaser, Provus, Popham, Stufflebeam, Alkin, Cronbach, Scriven, Atkin, Eisner, Stenhouse, Stake, and Parlett and Hamilton. A number of outdoor education evaluations conducted predominantly overseas are then classified according to their propositional or tacit knowledge value base as a further demonstration of the applicability of the value base dimension for the outdoor educator hoping to gain useful information from evaluations conducted previously. Evaluations reflecting ambiguity in value base and outdoor education guidelines representative of the propositional and tacit knowledge value bases are also presented. Although suggesting the bi-polar nature of the value base dimension and the rather significant difference indegrees of program awareness available through formal evaluation, this study argues strongly that it is through an appreciation and understanding of alternative evaluation methodologies that outdoor educators might more capably be able to establish the nature of communication needed within a formal evaluation to best suit their needs and the needs of other audiences to whom evaluation reports will be directed.
|Date of Award||1982|