UWTSD Outdoor Education graduate wins Student Dissertation category at the 2018 Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards


18.12.2018

John Godley, a Masters graduate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) recently won the Student Dissertation category at the prestigious Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards 2018 ceremony.

Student Dissertation Award

Having taken place in Stafford as part of the UK Outdoor Learning Sector Conference, the Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards are presented to Outdoor Learning professionals and organisations in recognition of their outstanding work as well as encouraging excellence. The sector applauds those working on innovative projects to encourage and enable more people to get out, be active, learn about and connect with the outdoors. The awards shine a spotlight on the exceptional work of a diverse group of professionals including instructors, teachers, leaders, managers, educators and researchers.

Scooping the student award, John’s dissertation looked at how disconnection from social media contributes to young people’s experience and learning on a 3 day outdoor education residential.

Celebrating dissertation work completed by students as part of an undergraduate or post-graduate course the category was open to students who had successfully completed their course during the three years to September 2018. The judges looked for evidence of the choice and focus of the subject; the clarity of purpose and structure; research and review; methodology; analysis and interpretation of results; communication as well as conclusions and summaries.

“I’m really pleased to have won the dissertation award,” says John, a Further Education college lecturer.  “The course was a fantastic experience that allowed me to explore issues and perspectives that I had not even known about beforehand. I was able to take part in some really memorable practical experiences which were blended with the academic content and which were great opportunities to meet experts in their fields and the other students on the course. The skills I learned on the course have really benefitted my teaching through the advanced academic and critical thinking skills developed. The tutors support has been excellent throughout and they have been central to giving me the confidence to enter the competition.”

In what was a highly contested category, another UWTSD Masters graduate, Anna Gordon, was also highly commended and featured as one of the three category finalists.  Anna’s dissertation was an exploration of how women perceive the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

Having both graduated with a MA in Outdoor Education in July 2018, their dissertations were submitted with the support of UWTSD’s MA Outdoor Education Programme Director, Dr Andy Williams who attended the ceremony and collected John’s award on his behalf.

“John’s success in winning the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is a terrific personal achievement and reflects well on his commitment to further study and his competence as an early career researcher,” says Andy.  “The study is highly topical focussing on How disconnection from social media on a residential outdoor experience could contribute towards changing attitudes and behaviour around future use?

I am delighted to say that he has already looked to share his conclusions with a broader audience in Horizons – the professional journal for Outdoor Educators. As important is John’s continuing desire to constantly improve his own teaching and outdoor practice through his involvement with the MA Outdoor Education programme at UWTSD.

MA Outdoor Education graduates

Speaking of Anna’s achievement of reaching the final three, Andy is again delighted to see another of his students attain success and recognition on a national level.

“Anna Gordon’s success in being shortlisted for the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is well deserved,” continues Andy. 

“At a time when society has re-awakened to issues of equality and opportunity Anna’s study is highly topical for Wales and the outdoor community focusing as it does on Women’s perceptions of the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

“Anna’s dissertation success draws from her MA Outdoor Education studies (2016-18) and builds on her previous undergraduate success on the BA Outdoor Adventure Education degree at UWTSD where she studied from 2013-16. Anna lives locally and works as a freelance outdoor instructor with many local groups and organisations. As a graduate of UWTSD we are proud of her academic success and pioneering work as a role model for young women developing a career in the outdoors.”

The MA Outdoor Education programme at UWTSD has been developed to meet the needs of practitioners and graduates working in outdoor education in the UK and further afield. It brings theory and practice together to develop a higher level understanding of outdoor education as a distinctively alternative form of learning. The course is unique in the UK in adopting a sociocultural approach to better understanding a range of key issues including the nature of adventure, sense of place pedagogy, informal learning, facilitating experiential learning, relationships with nature and healthy outdoor communities. In addition, it supports students in conducting small-scale research studies to inform evidence-based practice.

UWTSD’s Outdoor Education courses are now offered at the University’s new Outdoor Adventure Education Centre in Carmarthen called Cynefin - an accessible hub for the University’s BA Outdoor Adventure Education and MA Outdoor Education students enabling them to further enhance their skills and develop their understanding of Outdoor Adventure.

If you’d like to know more about the MA Outdoor Education course offered at UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus, please visit www.uwtsd.ac.uk/ma-outdoor-education or contact Dr Andy Williams a.williams@uwtsd.ac.uk

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk