Value bases and program awareness : dimensions for evaluation in outdoor education

  • Edward Westphal

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


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 in
degrees 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
Date of Award1982
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Canberra

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