Masters Thesis

Experiential learning: an effective modality for higher education

Vocational preparation programs in institutions of higher education aim to develop skill sets that transfer to participants post graduate experiences. The literature suggest that outdoor education programs aim to increase technical, interpersonal, and meta skills in its participants; however, few studies have included long-term, follow up assessments of college graduates from outdoor recreation experiential education programs to see if the learning outcomes are transferrable and long lasting. This research provides an analysis of the effectiveness of experiential education in higher education through looking at alumni from the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Feather River College. A mixed methods research approach, utilizing surveys and follow up interviews (N=73), is used to assess the impact of experiential education on program participants. The results of this study indicate that student alumni believe their experience at Feather River College positively prepared them for postsecondary education, employability and job decidedness, and transferrable skill development in their professional and personal postgraduate lives. It is evident from the data and emergent student narratives that the experiential education model used by the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Feather River College effectively serves ORL alumni in their post-graduation experiences. The knowledge gained from this study reveals that educators in institutions of higher education should carefully develop and intentionally integrate more experiential education practices into their programs and curriculum.