The residential fieldtrip experience:An example of the impact of outdoor learning on social relationships

Gee, Nick (2015) The residential fieldtrip experience:An example of the impact of outdoor learning on social relationships. In: Social Relationships and Friendships: Perceptions, Influences on Human Development and Psychological Effects. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, pp. 59-76. ISBN 9781634828208

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This chapter is based upon ethnographic research into a residential Geography fieldtrip for thirty-six United Kingdom-based A level students, aged sixteen and seventeen. The research entailed observing and participating in a week-long trip, to include joining in with Geographical data collection in the field, observing classroom-based lessons at the Study Centre and partaking of meals and recreational activities throughout the trip. I argue that taking students out of their regular school environment, to engage in outdoor learning on a residential trip, brings positive benefits to the social cohesion of classes. Alterations to social relationships between students during the fieldtrip revealed increased numbers of social relations for many individuals, in addition to the consolidation of existing friendships. There were also notable improvements in motivation and small group cooperation, alongside enhancements to the social cohesion of the whole group, with widespread feelings of togetherness encapsulated in perceptions of the emergence of a temporary community. These intangible, intense and unquantifiable sentiments are hard to capture, but this is where the ethnographic approach adopted in this research yields insight. Factors identified in explaining changes to social relationships include the exclusion of eternal influences, the promotion of common agendas, feelings of shared adversity, strategic teacher interventions and various opportunities that arose from communal living. Nonetheless, sentiments of togetherness and community were not consistently felt by all trip participants, and the chapter also focuses upon particular individuals for whom the residential experience did not positively impact their social relationships. The chapter concludes by identifying potential strategies and suggestions for trip leaders seeking to enhance the social cohesion of groups through residential trips.

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Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2016 16:00
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 23:52

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