University of Tasmania

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Threshold concepts for Australian university outdoor education programs: findings from a Delphi research study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:19 authored by Thomas, G, Grenon, H, Marcus MorseMarcus Morse, Allen-Craig, S, Mangelsdorf, A, Polley, S
In Australia, when a person wants to work in the outdoor education or recreation field, they can follow a number of different pathways to gain the required knowledge, skills and experience. Typically, this involves the completion of a formal program with either a training organisation or a university, depending on the qualification sought. Programs delivered by training organisations typically use a national training package to define the specific competencies (knowledge and skills) and the curriculum and outcomes of these programs are clearly defined, and qualifications are usually transferable around the country. Outdoor education programs delivered by universities in Australia, however, have no such clarity. This paper describes a research study that used the Delphi research method to consult with academics working in university outdoor education programs across Australia. The research set out to establish a set of threshold concepts that articulate what a student who completes at least a major in outdoor education knows and is able to do. Over two rounds of consultation the six authors of this paper formed the Delphi facilitation team, which solicited input and feedback from an expert panel. Nineteen different university academics participated in the research and produced seven threshold concepts, which are shared in this paper to encourage discussion and invite feedback from a wider range of stakeholders. More research is required to ascertain the efficacy of these threshold concepts in describing what graduates of university outdoor education programs know and can do.


Publication title

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education








Faculty of Education



Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Higher education; Secondary education; Pedagogy