Dr. Spirit Brooks is the Outdoor School program's Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Coordinator.
Feel free to contact Dr. Brooks should you have any questions or suggestions regarding current research, outcomes evaluation, or program assessment.
Statement on Research
All scholarly research endeavors are informed by particular research paradigms, and those inform the methodology and the methods used to collect data (Mertens, 2015). As we consider research questions within the outdoor education setting, we consider from where our questions originate so that we may remain accountable to the communities and contexts for which we work (Fine, 2017). A research paradigm, can also be referred to as a particular philosophical stance (Crotty, 1998, p. 7) or as a conceptual framework (Kovach, 2009, p. 39). It can also be described as a ‘worldview,’ a set of metaphysical beliefs, assumptions, concepts, and values that informs the researcher’s view of reality, what counts as knowledge and ways of knowing and guides research priorities, choices, and actions (Chilisa, 2012; Creswell, 2013; Mertens, 2015; Willis, 2007; Wilson, 2008). The OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program, when considering new research related to outdoor school, asks: whose knowledge is given value? We consider how context matters, and the ways in which ‘research’ has been implicated in settler-colonial relationships with land and Indigenous peoples. We consider the cultural, historical, political, environmental, and legislative power structures that all play a role in research. In considering the role of research, we navigated the complexity of our unique positionalities and epistemological and ontological stances, understanding that our stakeholders need more complex and nuanced data. We attempt to be thoughtful about our research, evaluation, and assessment, making sure our outputs are in formats that have value for our different audiences. We use our power and positionality to include knowledge that has sometimes been excluded, othered, or marginalized.