Academic journal article Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

A Tale of Three Journals: A Study of Papers Published in AJOE, JAEOL and JEE between 1998 and 2007

Academic journal article Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

A Tale of Three Journals: A Study of Papers Published in AJOE, JAEOL and JEE between 1998 and 2007

Article excerpt


This paper provides an analysis of the refereed publications in three scholarly journals in the related fields of outdoor education, adventure education, and experiential education. The three journals are the Australian Journal of Outdoor Education (AJOE), the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning (JAEOL), and the Journal of Experiential Education (JEE). We analyse the refereed publications published in each journal between 1998 and 2007, 343 papers in total, before concluding with a section reflecting on the similarities, differences and future challenges for the three journals. This choice to analyse papers published between 1998 to 2007 was pragmatic because AJOE and JAEOL have only published refereed papers since 1998 and 2000 respectively whereas the JEE has published refereed papers since 1978.

We are not aware of any previous attempts to conduct such a broad analysis of the refereed journal publications in the overlapping but distinct fields of outdoor education, adventure education, and experiential education. There have been several reviews of research conducted in these fields but the foci of these reviews have been quite different to the focus of this paper. Ewert (1987) selectively reviewed research in outdoor adventure recreation in order to provide both a historical overview of past research and some suggestions for future research. Ewert's purpose was to "suggest ways to enhance the effectiveness of research in outdoor adventure" (p. 25) in order to create more meaningful findings. More recently, Rickinson et al. (2004) conducted a critical examination of 150 published research accounts on outdoor learning between 1993 and 2003. This review, motivated in part by the desire for educational practice and policy to become more evidence based, was commissioned by the Field Studies Council and conducted through the National Foundation for Educational Research in the UK. The specific aims of the review were to establish what was known about young people's experience of outdoor learning, the impact of that learning, the factors that impede and facilitate their learning, and the factors that impede and facilitate the provision of outdoor learning. In their final report, Rickinson et al. made a range of recommendations for future practice, policy and research, but the strength of these recommendations is compromised because, for reasons which remain unclear, they omitted to include numerous research papers (which met their stated research criteria) in the review (for example, no papers from JAEOL were included). We speculate that the focus of the papers and the recommendations were influenced by the funding body (the Field Studies Council) who are concerned with environmental issues and education--thus their report should be seen in this light.

The purpose of this review of refereed papers across the three journals is to provide an overview of the peer reviewed research that has been published in the last decade in order to reveal strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and what we perceive to be blind spots. Hence, this review describes and explores general trends in the papers published within and across the three journals. No attempt has been made to assess the quality of the papers published in the three journals as this was beyond the scope of this study. We have also chosen to take a constructivist approach to this review (Mertens, 2005) and we use the data collected to describe and interpret phenomena rather than attempting to prove causal links or demonstrate correlations between variables. Before we describe the methodology and methods of our review we provide a short history of each journal.

The journals' purposes and histories

The Australian Journal of Outdoor Education

The purposes of AJOE include providing a balanced and in-depth investigation of outdoor education practices and theories in a variety of educational and recreational contexts, enhancing understanding of outdoor education and recreation issues, examining and applying research and providing a forum for outdoor education and outdoor recreation professionals to exchange and discuss ideas and practices (Outdoor Council of Australia, 2008). …

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