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Quality and satisfaction in an outdoor adventure education setting
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With formal beginnings in the 1960s, outdoor adventure education programs numbered over 300 after just two decades (Burton, 1981). Today, it is estimated that over 700 organizations offer wilderness programs for personal growth (Friese, 1996), and programs are growing at a rate of 15 percent per year (Gager, 1996). Knowing which attributes of a program or course are most important for creating a satisfying experience is key for competing effectively in today's expanding market. Outdoor education programs can use such information to attract students, understand satisfaction, sustain customer base, and enjoy positive word-of-mouth. Although marketing research has focused on consumer satisfaction as the key to future purchase intentions and positive word-of-mouth (Oliver, 1980; 1993; Spreng, Olshavsky and Miller, 1996), more recently, the concept of quality has shown more promising effects on future intentions (Cronin and Taylor, 1992; 1994; Crompton and Love, 1997; Baker and Crompton, 2000). This study investigates participants' perceived quality with a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) experience. The analysis utilizes data archived from NOLS Student Course Evaluations gathered in Lander, Wyoming. The objective is to reveal which factors derived from evaluation are related to satisfaction with the program, willingness to take another course, or to recommend NOLS to a friend. Attribute ratings were regressed to single-item indicators of overall satisfaction, intentions to take another NOLS course, and intentions to recommend NOLS. Factor analysis revealed a three-factor structure in the quality ratings, with factors pertaining to pre-course materials, instructors, and outdoor skills. This three-factor model, using only 8 of 15 available quality ratings, explained a comparable amount of variance in the global evaluations as an alternative model incorporating all 15 ratings. Contrary to the hypotheses, the instructor related concept was responsible for more variance in all three global evaluations than the other concepts examined. Additionally, overall satisfaction was shown to explain more variance in the future intentions of participants than were quality ratings. Differences in the global evaluations for different participants and courses were also examined. Analysis of age, gender, length, and type of course revealed significant mean differences for these groups. Ethnicity and season did not significantly affect means. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 109-118).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Hunt, Carter Allan (2003). Quality and satisfaction in an outdoor adventure education setting. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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