An experiential learning-teaching model for recreation modules in higher education
Schreck, Cornelia Margarete
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Recreation is a unique career field with specific skills, competencies and abilities (graduate attributes) expected of recreation graduates. However, only a handful of these graduate attributes are developed through current traditional lecturer-focused teaching methods. It may be more appropriate to teach recreation studies in a way that supports the development of these graduate attributes with an active, hands-on approach that accommodates a variety of learning styles, for example, through experiential learning. The purpose of this study was firstly to determine relevant graduate attributes for entry-level recreation professionals in South Africa (SA); secondly to contextualise the Twin-Cycle Experiential Learning Model (TCELM) for use in recreation modules; and thirdly to evaluate the effectiveness and work-ability of the adapted TCELM. A ranking-type Delphi method with three iterations, spanning four months from initial recruitment to final data collection, was used to collect data for the first objective of the study. Ten recreation experts from recreation organisations in the public, non-profit and private sectors in SA participated in the Delphi process. Descriptive statistics, specifically the mean scores, were used to determine the order (rankings) of importance of the graduate attributes and Kendall's Coefficient of Concordance (W) was used to determine the level of agreement amongst participants. For the second and third objectives of the research, a holistic, single-case case-study design was used, employing a convergent, parallel mixed method and pre–post-test design. The adapted TCELM, containing a planning and an implementation phase, was implemented in a final-year recreation module at a higher education institution. Thirty-three students volunteered to participate, of whom 28 completed all the required quantitative measuring instruments. The Review of Personal Effectiveness and Locus of Control (ROPELOC) questionnaire and a self-report competency assessment survey were completed at the beginning and end of the semester. Participants completed six guided reflections throughout the semester. Three focus group interviews were conducted with available participants at the end of the semester. Paired sample t-test and practical significance (Cohen’s d values) were used to compare the pre- and post-test scores of the ROPELOC and the self-report competency assessment survey. Data analysis for focus group interviews and the student reflections was conducted by adopting Yin’s five-phased cycle: compiling; disassembling; reassembling and arraying; interpreting; and concluding. A list with 18 essential graduate attributes was compiled from the results of the Delphi process. The results from the Delphi concluded that “passion for the profession”, “trainability and a willingness to learn”, “communication skills”, “personal qualities” and “adaptability” were the top five ranked attributes expected of entry-level recreation professionals in SA. “Knowledge of the profession”, “personal qualities”, “leadership skills” and “communication skills” were the graduate attributes that showed significant improvement within the overall quantitative and qualitative data during the implementation of the adapted TCELM. This study further proved the importance of both cycles of the TCELM in student learning. Group work and time management were two factors identified that may challenge the implementation of experiential learning; however, both these factors contribute to the development of essential skills for the work place. It was conclusively determined that an effective and workable adapted TCELM, focusing on graduate attributes for entry-level recreation professionals in SA, can be contextualised and implemented by lecturers in a recreation module in a higher education setting. This sets the stage for delivering graduates who not only have the needed theoretical knowledge, but also the essential skills, competencies and abilities to excel in their careers as recreation professionals.
- Health Sciences