Global Explorers: An Examination of Program Processes and Outcomes
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This study utilizes longitudinal, mixed-method data drawn from participants in an environmental education/international immersion program for middle high-school students to study outcomes and processes associated with program participation. Studies of program outcomes and processes are important for better understanding the design and impact of youth programs. The first study investigated the relationships between experience types (i.e., indirect vs. direct) and learning outcomes (i.e., knowledge vs. attitudes). In other words, what is the difference in impacts between reading a book about the rain forest and actually traveling to the rain forest? Findings suggest that experience type plays a significant role in the type of learning outcomes as well as how these outcomes influence behavior. More specifically, direct experiences appear to catalyze knowledge in a way that facilitates future behavior development. The qualitative data also suggest that participants' perceptions of perceived freedom during the program moderated whether participation was experienced as direct or indirect. The second study employed a social development model (SDM) to understand the relationship between within program socialization processes and program outcomes. The model provided a good fit for the data and predicted a significant portion of the variance in environmental behavior after controlling for baseline levels of this outcome variable. Additionally, analysis of qualitative data produced a proposed model of shared activities and bonding that suggests youth valued experiences where adults participated with them as equals rather than as disciplinarians or administrators. The final study provided insights regarding the degree to which the program was implemented as originally planned and how the domains of implementation integrity influenced program outcomes. The findings suggest that of the measured implementation domains, only participant responsiveness was significantly related to program outcomes. Data also suggest that implementer efficacy can have differing impacts on program adherence. The qualitative data suggest that most participants positively perceived the program and felt it was well organized. In sum, the findings provide a holistic perspective of the processes and outcomes of this program. Rather than merely presenting an overview of program impacts, the study offers insights into the processes (e.g., socialization) and characteristics (e.g., experience types) that produced observed outcomes. Thus, the study presents a more complete picture of what individuals gained through their participation in this program as well as the processes that led to these gains.
Duerden, Mathew D. (2009). Global Explorers: An Examination of Program Processes and Outcomes. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from