The relationship between motivation and verbal academic achievement for inner-city adolescents after an adventure education intervention

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Kent Burnett - Committee Chair


Despite the considerable investment of resources in education in the United States, approximately 500,000 youths drop out of grades 10--12 each year. Dropout is profoundly destabilizing and costly for these individuals and for society. Each year's set of dropouts carry a lifetime liability of over $200 billion in lost productivity, taxes and assistance costs.Outward Bound's Summer Literacy Program (SLP), a six-week outdoor adventure education program, targets inner-city students who manifest a multitude of the factors correlated with dropout. The aim of the SLP is to reduce frequency of dropout by positively impacting upon students' literacy skills and personality.Previous research found the SLP to have effects in both areas, yet no study had examined whether the program's impact upon achievement is systematically correlated with changes in personality, an idea backed in theories of achievement and adventure education. The main purpose of this study was to examine if these two positive effects of the SLP are systematically linked in order to help us understand adventure education's impact on achievement, with potential benefits for dropout prevention.The examination was twofold: first using a single subscale of the Achievement Motivation Profile (AMP) measuring motivation and second using a composite of four AMP subscales that conceptually coalesce around the broader construct of independence. Because the four subscales of the AMP were selected for analysis using theoretical rather than empirical criteria, examination of all 15 nonvalidity subscales also was conducted to assess whether other subscales play a significant role in explaining changes in verbal academic achievement as measured by the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II (WIAT-II).It was hypothesized that there would be significant positive correlations between pre- and post-intervention gain scores on specific AMP subscales and WIAT-II verbal academic achievement subscales for the 81 adolescent subjects who completed the SLP in the summers of 2001 through 2004. Each student was poised to begin grade 10. There were no significant findings among the correlation and multiple regression analyses run to test the hypotheses of the study. Interpretations and implications of the results are presented, and future directions for research are discussed.


Education, Guidance and Counseling; Education, Curriculum and Instruction

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