AORE Association News September 2015 - Page 7

Research Grant

Applications due Oct 9! Apply online


By Nathan Williams

As you may have noticed, the value of outdoor recreation, particularly college outdoor programs, have been under intense scrutiny lately. The value of new facilities is consistently questioned, particularly if facilities include climbing walls or other high-profile features that can be lambasted as frills and excessive amenities. Attacks in the media or by politicians tend to focus on the cost of our programs and question the relevance to students.

The AORE has been been working hard to support the value of member programs and provide ammunition against these attacks. The Campus Outdoor Recreation Assessment and Accountability task force provided talking points for programs to use in defending their value. Our Executive Director and National Office have done an excellent job of providing statistics about the reach and financial impact of our members and programs. Despite these efforts, there is a large gap in outdoor recreation research that directly investigates the impact of outdoor recreation on college students. Are students who participate in outdoor trips more resilient than students who don't? Do outdoor orientation program participants have higher GPA's than non-participants? Do regular visitors to climbing walls have higher levels of fitness or life-long wellness than students who wouldn't otherwise participate in fitness activities?

To address these questions, the AORE (including dedicated volunteers within the Research and Publications Committee) has created up to $10,000 Research Grant monies to support research that investigates a research goal in the newly-created AORE Research Agenda.

The Research Agenda addresses eleven topics, including the value of college climbing walls, the return-on-investment of funding outdoor programs, and academic impacts of participating in outdoor recreation.

When asked to describe the importance of the grant, Dr. Geneviève Marchand, Chair of the AORE Research and Publications Committee said, "The grant is a monumental step for AORE who is demonstrating a commitment to research. Through this grant, we are supporting significant research that will add to the body of knowledge that we possess, and help us validate and guide our values, mission and actions as we develop more outdoor recreation and education opportunities."

If you or a colleague you know has an interest in receiving support for research activities outlined in the Research Agenda, please apply for the grant by October 9. The selection committee will consider all research projects requesting a range of funding amounts.

For more information about the grant, please visit or email Nathan Williams at or Rob Perkins, AORE Research Grant Committee Chair, at

The following 11 areas comprise the AORE Research Agenda, including potential research examples for each topic:

1. College climbing walls: Benefits for recruiting, return on investment, benefits for student retention, better college experience and contribution to student health and wellness.

2. Environmental stewardship: Examine the role of outdoor programs in the development of environmental stewardship and increase positive environmental attitude.

3. Return on financial investment: Benefits of investing in outdoor programs from a variety of areas.

4. Retention and graduation rates: Analyze graduation and retention rates of students participating in campus outdoor program, and comparing to non-participants.

5. Leadership: Assess best method for student development, evaluate best leadership model. for outdoor programs, measuring learning outcomes and development of judgment and decision making skills.

6. Value of outdoor recreation experiences: Assess the value of experiences on group development.

7. Outdoor orientation programs: Value of orientation programs, best curriculum for program, efficient, benefits.

8. Operations and Administration: Assessment of standards and best practices, including student staff competencies, trainings, and total participants and rental volumes.

9. Challenge course: Assessment of long-term impacts on goals and learning outcomes.

10. Standards: Evaluation and comparison of risk management standards and technical standards between North America and Europe.

11. Diversity and Inclusion: Evaluation of barriers to access, cultural differences, lack of role model and financial hurdles.

AORE Research Agenda