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ERIC Number: EJ1063853
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 15
Girls' Challenge Seeking: How Outdoor Exposure Can Support Girls in Taking Positive Risks
Tsikalas, Kallen; Martin, Karyn L.
Afterschool Matters, n21 p1-10 Spr 2015
Challenge seeking is an important component of children's personal and academic development. Defined in this paper as a set of beliefs and behaviors that propels individuals to initiate and persist at difficult ventures, challenge seeking is a key indicator of mastery goal orientation. This orientation has been linked with a number of positive and adaptive behaviors. For instance, research shows that individuals who pursue mastery goals are more likely than others to value cooperation, seek help when confused, and use deeper learning strategies such as monitoring their comprehension and actively trying to integrate new information with prior knowledge. They are also more likely to negotiate decisional ambiguities and experience positive emotions (Dweck, 1986; Grant & Dweck, 2003; Senko, Hulleman, & Harackiewicz, 2011). In Girl Scouts, challenge seeking is an essential element of leadership--a key to girls' discovery of themselves and their worlds. In moving beyond their personal and interpersonal comfort zones, girls learn their strengths and values as well as ways to interact with others. Enabling girls to seek challenges in the world involves helping them to "develop positive attitudes toward learning, seek opportunities for expanding their knowledge and skills, set challenging goals, and take appropriate risks" (Girl Scouts of the USA, 2008, p. 28). Despite the importance of challenge seeking, Girl Scouts have not typically reported high levels of this outcome. A recent national evaluation, for example, found that only about 40 percent of Girl Scouts in grades 4-8 consistently endorsed positive responses, such as "agree" or "agree a lot," to statements about taking positive risks (Tsikalas & Martin, 2014). Outdoor experiences often entail authentic tasks that have the potential to foster girls' challenge seeking. For this reason, senior researcher with the Girl Scout Research Institute, Kallen Tsikalas and director of council initiatives and research for Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, Karyn Martin used survey data to explore how the breadth and intensity of their exposure to outdoor activities affected Girl Scouts' challenge seeking. Their findings have implications for practice not only for Girl Scouts but any out-of-school time (OST) program committed to girls' development. The research methods and results of the study are described herein.
National Institute on Out-of-School Time. Wellesley Centers for Women, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481. Tel: 781-283-2547; Fax: 781-283-3657; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A