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ERIC Number: ED566566
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 126
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3394-6974-4
A Dynamical Systems Theory Examination of Social Connections in Outdoor Recreation Programs
Jostad, Jeremy
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Utah
Adolescence is a developmental time period in which social connections are an important aspect to fostering positive growth and identity. Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) programs are strategically positioned to help in this developmental process because of the novel social environment, however, little is known about how these types of social outcomes develop among adolescents on OAE courses. One challenge within OAE research are the numerous components that can make it difficult to suggest outcomes are a result of single variable effects. This dissertation uses dynamical systems theory (DST) to understand the developmental process of adolescent social connections and to take on the challenges of the multicomponent nature of research in OAE. The following dissertation is comprised of three articles that seek to better understand how adolescents develop social connections within the context of OAE. First, the variables that may be related to the development of social connections were investigated. A multidimensional group-identification framework was used to operationalize "connection." For the affective and cognitive dimension, students with higher levels of goal conflict had lower levels of identification and students with higher levels of social status had higher levels of identification. Groups with leaders who showed more considerate behaviors and groups that had more female students showed higher levels of identification in the affective dimension only. Identification did not significantly change from day ten of the course to the end (day 30). Though this study found some significant predictors, the social group in OAE is a complex system with many moving parts and may be better explained through a different theoretical lens. To take on the complexities of research in the OAE context, the theoretical foundations and analysis procedures of DST were introduced. Dynamical systems theory recognizes the multicomponent nature of phenomena and seeks to describe the temporal patterns of change. This paper illustrates the application and promise of quantitatively modeling dynamical systems in OAE. Lastly, a study which uses a DST framework and modeling techniques, discussed in Chapter 2, is used to further understand the development of social connections. Data were collected for 12 consecutive days on six OAE courses. The results show a single stable point that students converged upon over time. Students with higher levels of process conflict converged upon this stable point at a faster rate and this point became more stable. Students with higher levels of instructor support showed a higher stable value than those with lower levels of instructor support. These findings are discussed in relation to current literature and theory in OAE. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A