Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Third International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Personal development, resilience theory and transition to university for 1st year students
Luke Pickard, James McKenna, Julie A Brunton, Andrea Utley

Last modified: 29-05-2017



The study aimed to determine whether an outdoor orientation programme (OOP) could increase personal development, develop resilience and aid transition and adaptation in 1st year university students. OOPs are thought to aid transition through adventure experience. Based on student development theory, outdoor orientation programmes accelerate psychological growth (Vlamis et al., 2011).


Semi structured interviews were conducted with 14 students who attended an outdoor orientation programme to investigate the experience of attending an OOP and transition to university. The data was analysed following Braun and Clarke (2006) Six phase approach to thematic analysis.


Thematic areas discovered included ‘Personal development – Building more than a raft’. This theme described the way in which students developed self-worth and self-efficacy through the OOP experience. ‘The fine line between challenge and fear’ describes how delivery of an intervention such as an OOP needs to be carefully delivered to enhance the benefits and limit any possible detrimental experiences.


These first year students developed in terms of self-worth and self-efficacy through overcoming challenge. This development was also linked to the students surprising themselves about their capacities for handling adversity.

Keywords: Adaptation; transition; 1st year students; outdoor orientation program; resilience; personal development.

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