Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Professors Anna Lathrop and Tim O’Connell were recently awarded with the 2012 Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence for innovative outdoor orientation program “Brock BaseCamp”.
The award will provide the research duo with $5000 over the next three years to better the understand the role of outdoor orientation programs on student retention, experience and academic performance.
“Both Tim and I are honoured to win this award, it is a great opportunity to expand this research for future incoming students but also to measure the impact this type of program can have on student success” Says Anna Lathrop, Professor and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.
Brock BaseCamp is a program designed to ease the transition for first-year students, providing them with access to peer mentors, faculty, fellow incoming students and an orientation experience in the great outdoors.
“Research into last summer’s trip shows that BaseCamp participants had greater social connections, feelings of mutual concern for their group and enhanced community values after their wilderness trip,” Says Tim O’Connell, BaseCamp faculty co-ordinator and associate professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies.
Continuing this research will look to discover the value of the program by analyzing student experiences from the trip as well as the transition period to first year. The research will be conducted using reflective journals and bi-monthly workshops.
The trip offers rock climbing at Milton’s Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, paddling through the wilderness of Algonquin Park, or a backpacking adventure on the Ganaraska Trail.
“On the trip we are able to effectively tackle topics such as time management, study skills, the importance of work/life balance, making healthy choices, being away from home and even the finer things related to student life, like where to buy the best pizza.” says Ryan Howard, Brock BaseCamp co-ordinator and PhD student researching Sense of place in outdoor recreation.
Brock BaseCamp is leading the resurgence of outdoor orientation programming to be offered to university students in Canada, however American universities have been running similar outdoor programs for more than 40 years.
Brock's commitment to understanding the value of starting students on the right path, is a forward way of thinking to enhance teaching and learning practices for future students.