Enough about the outcomes … what about the process: Personal development and experiential learning
P. Allison, K. Von Wald
Most research in experiential learning has focused on outcomes. This has happened for good reason – not least to secure funding but also to understand the benefits that result from such experiences. However, this has resulted in limited work considering the process by which such outcomes are achieved. Some work has relied heavily on psychological constructs (e.g. Walsh and Golins, 1976) which have resulted in various rhetorical narratives (e.g. challenge by choice, project adventure inc., 2002). In the last decade (roughly speaking) there has been an increasing amount of work on process (eg McKenzie, 2000) and sociological conceptions of experiential learning (e.g. Brown & Fraser, 2009; Zink, 2010). While the former is needed to inform pedagogy the latter can provide some theoretical insights. In this paper we outline some of the above issues and suggest the imbalance between research on outcomes over process needs to be addressed. We also argue that the claims of long term impact suggest that it will be valuable to undertake longitudinal and retrospective studies. We then focus on some of our own work which is concerned with both outcomes and processes. The example concentrates on Sail Training and presents a recently developed model to gain a conceptual understanding with a pedagogical focus.