An investigation of moderators of change and the influence of the instructor on outdoor orientation program participants’ biophilic expressions

Abstract

The twofold purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate various moderators that might influence the effect of participation in an outdoor orientation program on first-year college students’ relationships with the natural world and to examine the potential influence of instructors on participants’ biophilic expression. The theory of biophilia was used to understand these human-nature relationships. Eighty-five first-year college students participating in a 21-day outdoor orientation program were assessed at the program’s start and end using the Kellert-Shorb Biophilic Values Indicator (KSBVI). The KSBVI provides a biophilic profile, a measure of how one relates to the natural world on each of nine separate subscales that collectively articulate one’s expression of biophilic values: aesthetic, dominionistic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic, negativistic, scientific, symbolic and utilitarian. Moderators of change in biophilic expression were explored using ANCOVA models, including pre-scores as a covariate in each model. The moderators were 1) prior summer camp experience, 2) prior wilderness experience program (WEP) participation, and 3) preference for type of time in the outdoors (alone or with others). Prior WEP experience moderated outcomes on the aesthetic, humanistic, moralistic and negativistic subscales, and prior summer camp experience moderated outcomes on the aesthetic and moralistic subscales. Participants’ preference for time alone or with others in the natural world did not moderate any biophilic outcome. Instructor influence, assessed using a repeated measures MANOVA, was found to have an effect on the extent to which change occurred on the humanistic, scientific, and utilitarian subscales. Replication studies are recommended.

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Meltzer, N.W., Bobilya, A.J., Mitten, D. et al. An investigation of moderators of change and the influence of the instructor on outdoor orientation program participants’ biophilic expressions. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 23, 207–224 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-020-00051-w

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Keywords

  • Biophilia
  • Outdoor adventure program
  • Environmental education
  • Outdoor orientation program
  • Kellert-Shorb Biophilic Values Indicator (KSBVI)
  • First-year college students