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Empowerment and resilience: A multi-method approach to understanding processes and outcomes of adventure education program experiences

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Amy Shellman
Abstract:
This study examined the influence of participation in an adventure education program on participants' perceived level of empowerment and resilience, assess the relationship between specific program characteristics and these variables, and understand how participants interpret their experience with regard to empowerment and resilience. Psychological empowerment and resilience was measured before and after participation in an Outward Bound course. Semi-structured interviews were conducted four- to six-months after course completion in an effort to better understand how participants interpret their experience relative to empowerment and resilience. Subjects for this study consisted of participants who completed an Outward Bound course during the summer 2007. Students enrolled in a lower-division general education course at Indiana University served as a comparison group. Study instruments included a modified version of Spreitzer's (1995) empowerment scale, Wagnild and Young's (1993) Resilience Scale, and Characteristics of the Experience Scale (Sibthorp, 2000). Data were analyzed using ANCOVA and repeated measures ANOVA to determine overall differences in the dependent variables following participation in Outward Bound. Correlation was used to determine the relationship between program characteristics and outcomes of empowerment and resilience. For the interview analysis, significant phrases pertaining to empowerment and resilience were identified, coded and formulated into meanings, and clustered into emerging themes. A significant positive increase in both perceived psychological empowerment and resilience was found for the Outward Bound group. No significant differences were obtained for the comparison group. Characteristics of the experience most highly correlated with empowerment were (1) opportunities to develop/practice skills; (2) responsibilities participants had; and (3) help received from the group and staff. "Debriefings" were the component most highly correlated with both empowerment and resilience. Qualitative findings supported the quantitative results. Feelings of accomplishment and a sense of achievement were frequently described by participants as contributing to outcomes related to both empowerment and resilience. Changes in participants' behavior following and attributed to their Outward Bound course were also captured and ranged from subtle to dramatic. Results of this study not only capture whether change occurred in participants, but also offer information about how that change occurred, as well as what behavioral changes participants exhibited after and as a result of their experience.

vii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Acknowledgments.............................................................................................................. iii Abstract ................................................................................................................................v Table of Contents .............................................................................................................. vii Chapter 1.

INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem ...................................................................................4 Purpose of the Study ..........................................................................................7 Psychological Empowerment.............................................................................8 Psychological Resilience ...................................................................................9 Significance of the Study .................................................................................10 Research Questions ..........................................................................................13 Delimitations ....................................................................................................14 Limitations .......................................................................................................14 Assumptions .....................................................................................................15 Definition of Terms..........................................................................................15 Summary ..........................................................................................................16 Conceptual Framework for Study ....................................................................17 2.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .......................................................................18 Outward Bound Program .................................................................................18 Historical Foundations and Description ......................................................18 Psychological Empowerment...........................................................................22 Definitions and Conceptual Development of Empowerment .....................22 Assumptions about Empowerment ..............................................................28

viii Empowering Processes and Outcomes ........................................................28 Measures of Empowerment .........................................................................31 Empowering Processes and Outcomes in Adventure Education .................33 Psychological Resilience .................................................................................38 Definitions and Conceptual Development of Resilience ............................38 Measures of Psychological Resilience ........................................................42 Resilience Processes and Outcomes in Adventure Education .....................43 Empowerment and Resilience..........................................................................46 Summary ..........................................................................................................47 3.

METHODS ............................................................................................................49 Program – Outward Bound Wilderness ...........................................................50 Study Participants ...........................................................................................53 Treatment Group Characteristics .................................................................53 Comparison Group Characteristics .............................................................54 Recruitment of Study Participants ...................................................................56 Instrumentation ................................................................................................56 Psychological Empowerment Scale ............................................................56 Psychological Resilience Scale ...................................................................59 Characteristics of the Experience Scale ......................................................60 Interview Guide ...........................................................................................61 Data Collection Procedures - Overview ..........................................................61 Quantitative Data Collection Procedures .........................................................64 Treatment Group .........................................................................................64 Comparison Group ......................................................................................64 Sample Size .................................................................................................65

ix Qualitative Data Collection Procedures ...........................................................65 Open-ended Survey Question ......................................................................65 Interviews ....................................................................................................66 Data Analysis Plan ...........................................................................................68 Quantitative Data Analysis ..............................................................................68 Qualitative Data Analysis ................................................................................69 Summary ..........................................................................................................70 4.

ANALYSIS OF DATA..........................................................................................72 Quantitative Findings .......................................................................................73 Sample and Response Rate ..............................................................................73 Reliability Estimates ........................................................................................77 Factor Analysis ................................................................................................79 Empowerment Scale Analysis .....................................................................79 Resilience Scale Analysis ............................................................................81 Research Question 1- Treatment Effects ........................................................83 Psychological Resilience .............................................................................85 Psychological Empowerment ......................................................................86 Research Question 2 - Correlation of Dependent Measures ............................88 Research Question 3 – Characteristics of the Experience ...............................90 Qualitative Findings .........................................................................................96 Participant Selection and Information .........................................................96 Research Question 4 - Interpretive Findings ...............................................98 Empowerment Themes ................................................................................99 Resilience Themes .....................................................................................105 Summary ........................................................................................................108

x

5.

DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ....................110 Summary of Study .........................................................................................111 Discussion of Findings ...................................................................................112 Research Question 1 ..................................................................................112 Research Question 2 ..................................................................................114 Research Question 3 ..................................................................................114 Research Question 4 ..................................................................................116 Limitations .....................................................................................................117 Implications and Recommendations ..............................................................118 Conclusions ....................................................................................................122 6. REFERENCES ....................................................................................................124

xi LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Summary of Benard’s Resilience Paradigm Shift .............................................40 Table 2. Course Information ............................................................................................52 Table 3. College Major Emphasis of Comparison Group................................................55 Table 4. Summary of Sample Demographics ..................................................................74 Table 5. Age Distribution of Sample ...............................................................................75 Table 6. Reliability Estimates ..........................................................................................78 Table 7. Total Variance Explained for the Principal Axis Factor Analysis for the Empowerment Scale ..........................................................................................80 Table 8. Total Variance Explained for the Principal Axis Factor Analysis for the Resilience Scale .................................................................................................81 Table 9. ANOVA results for Resilience Scale Pretest .....................................................84 Table 10. Repeated Measures ANOVA for Psychological Empowerment Scale .............87 Table 11. Spearman Rho Correlation Coefficient Among Measures of Resilience and Empowerment (Pretest and Posttest) .........................................................89 Table 12. Spearman Rho Correlation Coefficient Among Experience Characteristics and Measures of Resilience and Empowerment ........................................93 Table 13. Spearman Rho Correlation Coefficient Among Course Components and Measures of Resilience and Empowerment ...............................................95 Table 14. Demographic Information for Interviewed Participants ..................................97

xii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Conceptual Framework for Study ....................................................................17 Figure 2. Outward Bound Educational Framework .........................................................21 Figure 3. Framework for Psychological Empowerment ..................................................25 Figure 4. Outward Bound Process Model ........................................................................34 Figure 5. Overview of Study Procedures .........................................................................63 Figure 6. Motive Importance for Attending Outward Bound ..........................................77 Figure 7. Empowerment Scale Scree Plot........................................................................80 Figure 8. Resilience Scale Scree Plot ..............................................................................82 Figure 9. Mean Scores for Psychological Empowerment Pre- and Posttest ....................83 Figure 10. Mean Scores for Psychological Resilience Pre- and Posttest ..........................83 Figure 11. ANCOVA Results for Psychological Resilience ............................................85 Figure 12. Interaction Effect for Group by Time on Psychological Empowerment .........88 Figure 13. Contribution of Experience Characteristics to Participants’ Development .....91 Figure 14. Percentage of Participants Selecting an Experience Characteristic by Level of Importance to Their Growth/Development ................................................92 Figure 15. Average Value of Course Components to Participant Development ..............94

xiii LIST OF APPENDICES

Appendix A Outward Bound Core Values ...................................................................142 Appendix B Research Instruments ...............................................................................144 Appendix C Interview Guide .......................................................................................148 Appendix D Recruitment/Cover Letters .......................................................................150 Appendix E Study Information Sheets and Informed Consent Form ..........................156

1

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

"Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world" –Kurt Hahn

Meet ‘Chris:’ charming, charismatic, popular, athletic, and blessed with the kind of All-American good looks that would catch the eye of many teenage girls. Chris was a student on an Outward Bound course I taught one summer. Halfway through the course he took a risk. He reached out to two boys who were subtly being excluded from the rest of the group. He did what he recognized as right, despite the potential mockery from the other boys on the course. He built a bridge and tried to create a more welcoming community for everyone, not just the “cool guys” in the clique that had been forming. He paid a small price, as he appeared to lose status with some of the other boys, but in doing so he made a significant difference in the course experience of those two boys. Now, this may not seem an uncommon occurrence on an Outward Bound course, but the more interesting question for me centered not on what Chris did while on the course, but rather, what he would do after the course. Would he say something when the quiet kid at school was being pushed around by the more popular, “cool” kids, and would he once again reach out and build a bridge? Did Chris’ experience “empower” him to do what Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, would say he “recognized to be right?” Did his experience at Outward Bound even contribute to his ability to recognize what was right? Perhaps, more importantly, do adventure education programs, such as, Outward Bound programs, empower participants? Do they help participants become more resilient and better able to meet the challenge of adversity? If so, in what way(s)? Moreover, how does an Outward Bound experience influence participants after their course? The aim of this study is to explore answers to these questions.

Outcomes associated with adventure education program experiences have received much attention in the literature (e.g., Bunting, Tolson, Kuhn, Suarez, & Williams, 1998; Ewert, 1983; Goldenberg, McAvoy, & Klenosky, 2005; Gass, Garvey, & Sugerman, 2003; Little, 2002; McKenzie, 2003; Neill, 2002; Sibthorp, 2000). Documenting the impact(s) of educational programs, particularly ones considered to be outside of mainstream education, which is often the case with adventure programs, is important for several reasons. Among them are establishing credibility and accountability by demonstrating effectiveness, increasing enrollment by attracting new participants,

2 drawing interest from potential donors and creating new funding opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, enhancing program design and delivery to better meet the needs of participants. The literature is replete with evidence supporting the view that adventure programs contribute to positive developmental outcomes such as increases in self- confidence, self-efficacy, trust, teamwork, and overall life effectiveness (Cason & Gillis, 1994; Ewert, 1983; Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards, 1997; Neill, Marsh, & Richards, 2003). Historically, the majority of these studies have focused primarily on the outcome, ‘ What occurred?’ with less, but increasing attention paid to how and why such outcomes may occur. Barratt and Greenaway (1995), in a review of the outdoor adventure education literature state: There is a desperate need for new research which focuses on young people themselves. Young people’s accounts of their outdoor adventure experiences and their views about what most influenced their learning and development are almost entirely absent from the literature assessed in this review. Yet such information is essential. (p.54) Allison and Pomeroy (2000) called for further research on outdoor adventure experiences to expand beyond just looking at what the outcomes are and examine how and why those outcomes might have occurred. Ewert (as cited in Allison and Pomeroy, 2000) previously recognized the same need: ‘Does it work?’ does not provide an understanding as to why it happened or how it can be made to happen again. Without the ability to explain how and why an

3 outcome is realized, we lose our ability to predict that outcome in different situations or with different participants. (p.95) Other professionals have stated the need for research aimed at examining the process of, rather than the outcomes from, adventure education programs (Henderson & Fox, 1994; Scherl, 1989; Warner, 1999). And, still others call for the expanded use of analytical techniques to include multivariate analysis, such as multiple analysis of variance, multiple regression, factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and hierarchical linear regression (Ewert & Sibthorp, 2000; Russell & Sibthorp, 2004; Sibthorp, Witter, Wells, & Ellis, 2004). Evident in more contemporary literature, the call for research targeted at understanding the adventure process, and for studies examining multiple variables has been heeded. As is the case for much of human experience, understanding how individuals are affected by an adventure education experience is complex and multi- faceted. Historically, studies testing the effects of adventure programs measured changes in a single variable (e.g., self-efficacy). Such studies, while useful in understanding the effects of a program on a single outcome, are limited in their ability to capture the often multidimensional nature of the adventure education experience. More recently, there has been movement toward applying multivariate procedures to assess program outcomes, as well as the factors influencing such outcomes (Goldenberg et al., 2005; McKenzie, 2003; Sheard & Golby, 2006; Sibthorp, 2003; Sibthorp & Arthur-Banning, 2004). Additionally, the field of adventure education research has experienced growth in the use of qualitative and mixed method procedures aimed at obtaining a more holistic understanding of this multidimensional experience

4 (Caulkins, White, & Russell, 2006; Martin & Leberman, 2005; Sugerman, 2005). This study adds to that growing body of research by using a mixed method approach to examine adventure education processes and outcomes, specifically as they relate to psychological empowerment and resilience. Problem of the Study

As stated, research has documented a myriad of positive psychological outcomes (e.g., life effectiveness, self-efficacy, resilience, self-esteem) associated with participation in adventure education programs. Activities that seek to empower people are expected to increase these positive developmental outcomes, and improve quality of life and subjective well-being (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2005; Narayan, 2005). In a similar vein, many adventure programs are intentionally designed to utilize a myriad of physical, emotional, and mental challenges in order to achieve certain desired outcomes. Such experiences may foster the development of resilience in participants, as they work to meet and overcome unfamiliar and difficult challenges, often resulting in personal growth.

A common goal of adventure programs is to serve as a positive change agent. In my experience leading students for Outward Bound and other wilderness-based adventure education providers, I have heard participants remark that their experience was life changing, or at the very least that it had changed them in some way. I would walk away from such conversations feeling happy for the participant and satisfied to learn that I may have played a role in that transformation, but also wondering in what way had their life changed. How had their experience impacted their perspective and outlook on life? What would they do differently now, than they had done before? How are they better equipped

5 now to meet the challenges they will encounter in the future? What about their experience served as the catalyst for this change? As an instructor, I would probably never really know the answers to these questions, but as a researcher I hoped to move a bit closer to understanding how participants translate their experience and actually put to use the growth, insights, abilities and learning they glean from their experience. An excerpt captured in a letter from a student six months after his course illustrates the potential power of adventure education experiences, as well as highlights the inherent challenge for researchers trying to tease out how and why such experiences work: The trip was made up of a thousand tiny parts which don’t seem to add up to anything, but somehow changed my entire world. It’s been like a domino effect. I am trying out for soccer and basketball. I started taking guitar lessons. I smile at my reflection. I’ve had an incredible year and it was all started by the feelings I experienced on the trip. (Andrews, 1999, p. 41) According to the student in the above quote, the feelings he experienced on the trip appear to have served as a catalyst for subsequent changes/behaviors he made in his life (e.g., trying out for soccer, smiling at his reflection). In particular, the student’s comments suggest a sense of empowerment gained from his experience, prompting him to try new activities and exhibit more positive feelings about himself. Determining what feelings were experienced on the trip and the process by which such feelings were brought about would provide valuable information to those interested in understanding how adventure education programs facilitate positive change in participants. By focusing on the process and outcomes of empowerment and resilience in adventure education, this

6 study holds potential for demonstrating the life changing impacts of these programs and how such impacts may be made to occur again. A review of the adventure education literature reveals that studies targeted at demystifying the mechanisms of change by linking program outcomes to processes have recently appeared more prominent (e.g., McKenzie, 2003; Sheard & Golby, 2006; Sibthorp, 2003); however, application of a theoretical framework for empowerment in the adventure education setting has not been widely researched or well-documented. Similarly, the concept of resilience as an outcome of adventure education experiences has received growing attention in the adventure education literature (e.g., Ewert & Yoshino, 2008; Green, Kleiber & Tarrant, 2000), but remains underexplored.

Underlying this study is the premise that adventure programs facilitate change by providing opportunities for participants to experience a sense of empowerment, and by facilitating participants to make choices and take actions that enhance their (and/or others’) life situation after the experience.

Likewise, the notion that adventure programs may foster resilience stems from the historical foundations of Outward Bound (the model from which many adventure programs are adapted) which are rooted in the idea that by training through adversity one can develop the skills necessary to confront future and potentially more difficult challenges (a more detailed description of Outward Bound, including its historical foundations is provided in the review of the literature). This study investigated if and how adventure programs affect participant empowerment and resilience using both quantitative and qualitative methods. More specifically, the problem of this study was to determine the effects of participation in an

7 Outward Bound program on participants’ perceived level of psychological empowerment and resilience. In addition, this study sought to understand how specific program influences may affect individual empowerment and resilience through semi-structured follow-up interviews. These interviews also provided a means to understand, from the perspective of the participant, the mechanisms of the adventure education process that may have influenced the development of these two constructs and how empowerment and resilience, as outcomes, may have manifested in participants’ lives once they returned home. A mixed method approach was deemed most appropriate for achieving these goals and, hence, was utilized in this study.

Purpose of the Study Increasingly, attention has been paid to programs that promote positive development rather than merely problem prevention, particularly in adolescents. Characteristics of these programs have been identified and include the following: a sense of safety; challenging and interesting activities, a sense of belonging, supportive relationships with adults, involvement in decision-making, opportunities for leadership, and community involvement (e.g., Gambone & Arbreton, 1997; Howell, 1992; Witt & Caldwell, 2005). A number of these characteristics have been linked to increased empowerment and/or are believed to foster resilience. Moreover, activities which seek to empower people are expected to increase and enhance positive developmental outcomes and improve quality of life (World Bank, n.d.). While there is a relative abundance of research on adventure education outcomes, such as self-systems, social and life skills, and academic achievement (e.g., Cason & Gillis, 1994; Ewert & McAvoy, 2000; McKenzie, 2003; Sibthorp, Paisley, & Gookin,

8 2007), scant research has been targeted at creating a framework for developing participant empowerment or resilience in the context of adventure education, or at understanding how certain outcomes relate to one another. Also important, is understanding how participants translate and build upon such outcomes after their course. The purpose of this study was to understand the role of adventure programs, in particular Outward Bound, in developing participants’ psychological empowerment and resilience.

Psychological Empowerment

Psychological empowerment is conceptualized here as individuals’ perception of personal competence and their belief that goals can be attained. It also includes an awareness of factors that may hinder or enhance one’s efforts to achieve those goals, and action toward fulfilling one’s goals (Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998).

Empowerment programs may be viewed as an effective means of providing individuals with opportunities to develop competencies and build social networks through meaningful involvement (Sullivan & King, 1999; Zimmerman, 1995). While many, if not most, adventure educators would consider the adventure education process to be an empowering one, empowerment, per se, has not been widely addressed in the extant adventure education literature. Although, perhaps not referred to as “empowerment,” many outcomes attributed to adventure program experiences (e.g., self-efficacy, locus of control, and competence) are related to and/or comprise elements of empowerment. The perspective here is that empowerment is a multidimensional construct consisting of intrapersonal, interactional, and behavioral components (Zimmerman, 1995; Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998) that serve as a catalyst for personal action and behavior.

9 Psychological Resilience Resilience, as

defined by Wagnild and Young (1993), is one’s ability to respond and adapt to challenging, adverse or stressful circumstances. This concept, not entirely unrelated to empowerment, has been empirically studied as an outcome of adventure education experiences (Green, Kleiber, & Tarrant, 2000; Neill & Dias, 2001), although to a somewhat limited extent. Adventure education experiences are often deliberately designed to “test” participants physically, emotionally, and mentally by presenting them a series of challenges with the intention of demonstrating to participants that they are capable of handling more than they initially thought possible. Hence, an integral part of the adventure education experience appears directly related to the concept of resilience, as participants learn to manage and successfully meet various challenges presented throughout the program, thereby developing within them a new awareness of their own powers and capabilities .

The extent to which the skills, knowledge, and insights gained from the adventure education experience are internalized and applied by participants in everyday contexts is not fully known. This may, in part, be due to difficulties associated with measuring such change, particularly if these changes are subtle, difficult for participants to articulate, and/or due to individual variability in factors such as pre-existing social and life skills, readiness for change, and personal motivation. Assessing what people actually do (behavior), as opposed to what they think (cognition) or feel (emotion) is a challenge for all researchers. Thus, another aim of this study was to better understand how participants put their learning into action, within the framework of empowerment and resilience, in typical life situations after they returned home to their daily life.

10 Significance of the Study Empowerment has been defined in numerous ways and a variety of approaches have been taken to measure empowerment (Alsop & Heinsohn, 2005; Spreitzer, 1995; Vincenz, 1990; Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998). There are also many complexities associated with the measurement of empowerment, including changes over time and context specificity of empowerment indicators, i.e., what is of importance to the individual and how it manifests itself (Narayan, 2005). “A goal of empowering interventions is to help people become more self-reliant and self-governing, and less controlled by external factors.” (Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998, p.5). Moreover, the challenges faced by today’s society, including recent economic events, terrorist activities, war, the energy crisis, and natural disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, the Sichuan Province earthquake, California wildfires), require and perhaps will increasingly require citizens to be resilient and adapt to difficult, changing and uncertain times. An examination of the role adventure education may serve in enhancing resilience allows for a better understanding of how this medium may contribute to social welfare on a larger scale. As argued earlier, adventure education programs have been shown to be effective in enhancing a wide range of benefits and developmental outcomes, mainly in areas of personal growth (Angell, 1994; Ewert & McAvoy, 2000; Paxton & McAvoy, 1998; Sheard & Golby, 2006); many of which are considered to be precursors to action. However, empirical examinations of empowerment and resilience as a process and an outcome of these experiences, particularly from the perspective of the participant, appear relatively limited in the literature (Autry, 2001; Sklar & Gibson, 2004). This study

11 contributes to the growing body of research on adventure education outcomes and processes in two ways: first, by measuring the effects of an adventure education program on participants’ perceived level of psychological empowerment and resilience; and second, by exploring the process and meaning of empowerment and resilience as experienced and interpreted by program participants. Assumptions underlying much of the outcome research in adventure education are that growth in global psychological dimensions is transferred and applied by participants once they return to their daily life. The frameworks of resilience and empowerment hold potential for understanding the ways in which participant may actually use their learning in the context where it really counts, their daily life. Moreover, much of the evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of adventure programs relies solely on self-reported responses to questions developed to measure a particular outcome. Factors such as social desirability and measurement error aside, a comprehensive understanding of the benefits, processes, and outcomes of adventure education programs necessitates an understanding of the experience as interpreted by the participant. Ballard, Shellman, and Hayashi (2006), in a study aimed at understanding the process of outdoor leadership development proffer: If educators are ultimately concerned with providing an empowering experience in which students may undergo change and develop leadership skills, then at least part of the research agenda that seeks to explain and improve the outdoor leadership development experience should provide testament in the form of the first-person voice of students who have experienced participation in outdoor leadership programs. (p.1)

12 Understanding how participants perceive their adventure education experience is therefore vital to understanding the efficacy of this setting in influencing psychological empowerment and resilience, as well as shedding light on the broader question of how this context impacts participants beyond the immediate program experience. It should be noted, that the assumption in this study is that empowerment and resilience, while contextual, also exist along a continuum such that one can increase (or decrease) the degree to which they are empowered or resilient. This study also takes the perspective that an adventure education experience not only affords opportunities (processes) for participants to develop empowerment and resilience, but that it also facilitates the development of a more empowered and resilient state (outcomes). For example, through successfully dealing with the stressors (theoretically, a resilience-building process ) presented during an adventure education experience, participants may exhibit higher levels of resilience (an outcome of the adventure education experience) after the experience. Recognizing that empowerment and resilience are multidimensional, and hence related to other psychological constructs, including one another, this study explored the relationship between these two related, yet seemingly distinct constructs. Combining the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative research methods to gain a holistic perspective of the effects of adventure programs, this study examined how such experiences can serve as a mechanism through which participants may develop and demonstrate empowerment and resilience. This improved understanding of the processes and outcomes of such programs as related to empowerment and resilience also contributes to the theoretical understanding of these constructs.

Full document contains 181 pages
Abstract: This study examined the influence of participation in an adventure education program on participants' perceived level of empowerment and resilience, assess the relationship between specific program characteristics and these variables, and understand how participants interpret their experience with regard to empowerment and resilience. Psychological empowerment and resilience was measured before and after participation in an Outward Bound course. Semi-structured interviews were conducted four- to six-months after course completion in an effort to better understand how participants interpret their experience relative to empowerment and resilience. Subjects for this study consisted of participants who completed an Outward Bound course during the summer 2007. Students enrolled in a lower-division general education course at Indiana University served as a comparison group. Study instruments included a modified version of Spreitzer's (1995) empowerment scale, Wagnild and Young's (1993) Resilience Scale, and Characteristics of the Experience Scale (Sibthorp, 2000). Data were analyzed using ANCOVA and repeated measures ANOVA to determine overall differences in the dependent variables following participation in Outward Bound. Correlation was used to determine the relationship between program characteristics and outcomes of empowerment and resilience. For the interview analysis, significant phrases pertaining to empowerment and resilience were identified, coded and formulated into meanings, and clustered into emerging themes. A significant positive increase in both perceived psychological empowerment and resilience was found for the Outward Bound group. No significant differences were obtained for the comparison group. Characteristics of the experience most highly correlated with empowerment were (1) opportunities to develop/practice skills; (2) responsibilities participants had; and (3) help received from the group and staff. "Debriefings" were the component most highly correlated with both empowerment and resilience. Qualitative findings supported the quantitative results. Feelings of accomplishment and a sense of achievement were frequently described by participants as contributing to outcomes related to both empowerment and resilience. Changes in participants' behavior following and attributed to their Outward Bound course were also captured and ranged from subtle to dramatic. Results of this study not only capture whether change occurred in participants, but also offer information about how that change occurred, as well as what behavioral changes participants exhibited after and as a result of their experience.