Programming with Style

Article excerpt

In a world where recreation programs compete for participants, administrators and programmers constantly strive for new and creative programming ideas, as well as new ways of offering traditional programs. Leisure programming demands that recreation professionals be in tune with the clients they serve, not just with the programs they provide (Edginton, Hanson, & Edginton, 1993; Russell, 1982).

Program administrators and leaders must recognize that while everyone has differences, those differences are neither good nor bad, they are simply different. Too often value and worth are attributed to differences, thus negatively affecting individuals with lesser attributed value. Recreation professionals must consciously acknowledge that each participant is unique. In recognizing participants' unique qualities, program leaders can understand personal styles and preferences manifested through attitudes and behaviors.

This article provides a framework for understanding personal behavioral styles. This framework is based on the DiSC[TM] dimensions of behavior model (figure 1). The DiSC model characterizes behaviors by placing them along two continuums related to speed of pace and task/relationship orientation. After explaining the DiSC model, the implications for programming and program leadership will be discussed.

The DISC model

DiSC is a two-axis, four-factor model that focuses on personal behavior styles in specific situations. The model has been used extensively in business, management, and educational settings and is applicable to recreational settings as well. According to Howe and Carpenter (1985), an understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic psychological factors which include behavioral responses can assist program planners and leaders.

Personal style preferences are flexible and float along a continuum, but there is a core of behaviors with which an individual feels most comfortable and which can be predicted (O'Connor & Merwin, 1988). Program leaders must be aware of and sensitive to participant styles to effectively meet participants' needs.

Using the DiSC model, personal styles can be explained by examining four dimensions that result from the intersection of the two continuums: fast paced/task oriented, fast paced/relationship oriented, slow paced/relationship oriented, and slow paced/task oriented. Based on these dimensions, individuals can be characterized by four basic styles; Dominant, influencing, Steady, and Cautious ("DiSC").

DiSC is patterned after Marston's (1979) two-axis model based on product and process. Marston theorized that human behavior can be studied according to individual actions in different environments. In addition, Kolb's (1984) learning model places learning on two continuums of concrete experience-abstract conceptualization and active experimentation-reflective observation. The theory about differences in the way people learn can be extended to programmers' understanding of thinking and acting. According to Edginton, Hanson, and Edginton (1993), leisure professionals can benefit from knowledge related to the process of learning and factors of motivation (goal-directed behavior).

In recreation settings people exhibit their personal behavior styles through activities, interactions with other participants, and interactions with program leaders. All people - adults and children - will exhibit these behavior preferences.

High "D" (Dominant) participants (fast paced/task oriented). Dominant individuals have a fast-paced approach to life, including leisure time activities. They are task oriented in that they prefer to focus on the task to be accomplished, rather than on others in the group.

The preferred play mode for "D"s is one that is fast paced and alone. Dominant participants need options and alternatives in play activities and the freedom to choose them. People who are high dominant may "rant and rave" when they do not get their way. …