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The Influence of Mobile Devices and Social Media on the Transfer of Learning in Residential Outdoor Experiences

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Beames
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The evidence from reports from Learning Away and Outward Bound demonstrate the positive effect of residential outdoor centre experiences. However, a key concern is the transferability of the learning on such courses to everyday life. The mechanisms by which this learning may be augmented, cemented, limited or undone by the social interactions that take place after it remain opaque. A significant amount of teenagers’ social interaction takes place through social media. This makes an investigation of how participants use their virtual networks to make sense of the residential outdoor experiences an important and timely area of study.

This partnership is between world-leading academic expertise in outdoor learning and Outward Bound (OB), the world’s largest provider of outdoor learning experiences. The three research questions are: What are young people’s views on the absence of mobile phones and social media during their residential experience? To what degree are newly formed relationships at OB maintained through social media use after courses? How does interaction on social media between participants after residential experiences impact on the transfer or maintenance of learning that occurred on the course?

It is anticipated that a mixed methods approach will be used with data collection before, during and after residential courses. The research design and methods used will, of course, ultimately be driven by the student, in discussion with Outward Bound and the academic supervision team. Anticipated methods include a survey (online and paper, target response c1000 and focus group interviews (c16 groups of up to 6) with young people taking part in residential courses at up to four of OB’s UK centres. Findings will be of interest to providers of outdoor residential experiences more widely. In addition, the study will contribute to our understanding of the affordances of social media for positive social interaction for young adults.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• A good first degree (at least 2:2), preferably with a social science component.
• An interest in, and knowledge of, residential-based outdoor learning and social media.
• For the +3 award, a solid grounding in social theory and research methods.
• Evidence of the capacity to work independently.
• Track record of working effectively with young people
• Strong interpersonal and communication skills

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence October 1st 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other Information:
The successful applicant will need to be able to work highly independently. The Outward Bound Trust’s Research & Evaluation team is in London and the host institution is in Edinburgh, and a certain degree of travel will be required between these locations and UK Outward Bound centres.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by March 27, 2020. Interviews will take place on April 27, 2020.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Edinburgh. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

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