Skippers’ beliefs about young people’s personal and social development through sail training: a Dewey- and Hahn-informed perspective
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date05/07/2020
Fraser, Kotryna Katre
Dewey and Hahn’s educational philosophies and existing literatures on personal and social development (PSD) through outdoor adventure education (OAE) offer several different but overlapping explanations of the process young people undergo to enhance their social skills, promote personal wellbeing, and successfully engage in wider society. Teachers’ beliefs literature, although providing scientific rigour and well-researched empirical constructs relating to beliefs, offer limited insights into teachers’ beliefs about young people’s PSD. Nor do they provide a thorough explanation of how teachers’/practitioners’ beliefs, actions and intentions may be affected by dynamic contextual factors. Sail training literature—which is a part of OAE—offers a dynamic context typically used to promote young people’s PSD. As such, three gaps were identified in existing literatures: lack of skippers’ voices within sail training literature; the need to understand teachers’ and OAE practitioners’ beliefs about PSD; and lack of sound philosophical underpinnings of practitioners’ beliefs. This thesis goes beyond sail training and OAE literatures to develop a theoretical framework so that later comparisons with sail training skippers’ perspectives can be made. Therefore, following a social constructivist ontological position supported by interpretivist epistemological assumptions, these four gaps were addressed using semi-structured interviews with 16 sail training skippers working for UK sail training organisations. A reflective diary and fact sheets were also used to develop further understanding and record ongoing conceptualisations of skippers’ beliefs about young people’s PSD. Four elements key to young people’s PSD emerged during inductive thematic analysis: environmental factors and social systems; social behaviours; attainable challenge; and essential sailing skills. Deductive analysis contrasting skippers’ beliefs against Dewey and Hahn’s conceptualisation of growth was also conducted. A combination of inductive and deductive analyses revealed skippers’ underlying beliefs to be focused on physical and social environments, and further shaped by contextual factors (e.g., weather conditions) to create a meaningful community-based context in which learning could occur. This point was also emphasised by both Dewey and Hahn. Skippers, however, provided new insights into Dewey and Hahn’s conceptualisations and their applications into OAE contexts leading to subtle refinements of Dewey and Hahn’s theoretical conceptualisations (e.g., diversity consists of diversity in socio-economic background, age, core beliefs and broader experiences). The findings contribute to our current understanding of the mechanisms underpinning beliefs about PSD in light of contextual factors. They also provide practitioners with the applied research-informed frameworks for engaging with young people’s PSD, in order to maximise its benefits, bridging the gap between theory and practice, and supporting practitioners’ continuous professional development.