Stremba, B., & Bisson, C. A. (Eds.). (2009). Teaching adventure
education theory: Best practices. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
ISBN: 0-7360-7126-1, 395 pages.
Teaching Adventure Education Theory is a series of lesson plans for
post-secondary adventure education. Each lesson plan is accompanied by
theoretical background on the topic, and is supported by resources such
as links to websites, power-point presentations, handouts,
questionnaires, and signage on a CD.
The book is primarily for the North American market, but has
international application. The 395 page volume is well structured,
written and produced. Each lesson plan uses a similar format and the
flow is logical and easy to follow. Aware of the diverse application of
this text, it is able to be read by a broad range of adventure educators
in addition to post secondary educators. There are clear links to the
CD, which has some extremely useful teaching materials.
Stremba and Bisson have embraced, rather than supersede, other
recent adventure education texts, such as Gilbertson, Bates, Ewert and
McLaughlin's (2006) Outdoor Education: Methods and Strategies;
Martin, Cashel and Wagstaff's (2006) Outdoor Leadership: Theory and
Practice; Priest and Gass' (2005) Effective Leadership in Adventure
Programming (2nd ed); and Prouty, Pannicucci and Collinson's (2007)
Adventure Education: Theory and Applications.
Each lesson plan is written by a prominent tertiary educator and
adventure education writer. The theoretical background supplied by each
writer has a sound evidence trail to their writing, and links to the
major (mostly North American) references on the topic. The lesson
outlines are grounded in practice, and appear to be a reflection of what
each educator is currently practicing.
The reader starts the journey with a discussion of adventure
education curriculum and effective teaching of the theoretical concepts
written by the editors. The ideas presented were concise and sound, and
will no doubt assist with the structure of lessons for post-secondary
education. A discussion of teaching methodologies and teacher qualities
might have been a useful addition, but it could be argued that this is
covered in other adventure education texts.
We are then guided through instructional theory, including
background on Howard Gardner's (2006) multiple intelligence
theories and their application to adventure education and planning for
learning outcomes. The ideas presented are strongly grounded in
experiential theory, and give clear directions for practice for future
The distinctly North American flavour to the history section
(written by North American authors Cassidy, Buening and Rheingold) might
be expanded by contribution from Southern hemisphere, European, Asian
and other adventure educators. Perhaps this is an opening for a future
article in the Australian Journal of Outdoor Education. Still, what was
presented was illuminating. Some of the lesson plans clearly overlapped,
providing repetition that would enhance learning.
The philosophical foundations section linked very clearly to
western philosophical development, in particular those philosophers that
were proponents of experiential education. The section might have
provided post-secondary educators with a stronger framework to guide
students through the importance and impact of having a clearly defined
philosophical approach. There might also have been greater reference to
the philosophical foundations of other cultures. Still, there were a
couple of ideas that were presented, such as the musing forest, that
might engage students in reflection about their philosophical self.
The theoretical foundations section might be re-labelled
'Theoretical Foundations of Personal Development,' as the
focus is entirely on the development of the individual as a result of
adventure education, and is clearly useful for educators using adventure
as a tool for maintaining arousal and personal development.
The leadership theories section was excellent, and the
'Expedition Leaders Style Analysis' supplied on CD should
prove useful in analysing preferred leadership styles in preparation for
It was great to see the editors include a section on social justice
and ethics. Karen Warren has been a particularly prominent author in the
US, and she has not shied away from tackling some harder issues. Her
'unpacking' of perceptions and beliefs, and methodologies to
achieve this should prove useful. The focus on black-white and gender
issues might have been expanded to include other groups that experience
inequity, such as people with disabilities, Indigenous backgrounds,
rural and remote dwellers, alternative religious beliefs, and
The group development section was excellent, and a good basis for
promoting improved group outcomes following the facilitation of an
adventure education program. The lessons presented were sequenced well,
and could be applied in the practical setting very easily. It might have
been nice to include an introduction to models of therapeutic adventure
facilitation, but this may well have been beyond the scope of the
The final section on the human-nature connection was a useful
introduction to thinking in this area, with Australia's Peter
Martin providing a contribution with some useful ideas and models
explaining how to introduce the 'nature as friend' concept
that he has championed. Perhaps an additional chapter that introduces
students to environmental sustainability pedagogy would have added a bit
One of the unfortunate consequences of such a tome labelled
'Best Practices' can be the stifling of critical inquiry. It
might have been good to include a discussion of this aspect, and a
section on promoting critical thinking.
In summary, a great reference for those that are conducting senior
secondary and post secondary training in adventure education. It is
still a useful volume for post-secondary students, as the introductions
to each section and chapters were an excellent synthesis of current
thinking in the domains presented. The volume fills a gap in the
literature with regard to teaching and training outdoor adventure
teachers, guides, leaders and facilitators. I found lots of useful ideas
in this book. I wouldn't have included the label 'best
practices' in the title, as clearly the context of practices plays
a large part in determining what is 'best.' Perhaps 'good
practices' would have been better. I would love to see a similar
volume from some of Australia's tertiary educators.
Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York:
Gilbertson, K., Bates, T., Ewert, A., & McLaughlin, T. (2006).
Outdoor education: Methods and strategies. Champaign, IL: Human
Martin, B., Cashel, C., Wagstaff, M., & Breunig, M. (2006).
Outdoor leadership: Theory and practice. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2005). Effective leadership in
adventure programming (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Prouty, D., Panicucci, J., & Collinson, R. (Eds.). (2007).
Adventure education: Theory and applications. Champaign, IL: Human
Reviewed by Scott Polley
University of South Australia
About the reviewer
Scott Polley completed a Registered Nursing Certificate at the
Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1986, a degree in Secondary Physical
Education at University of South Australia in 1991, and Master of
Education by Research (Outdoor Education) at LaTrobe University in 2005.
He is currently working as a lecturer at the University of South
Australia. Email: Scott. Polley@unisa.edu.au