The impact of outdoor education on the body image and self-efficacy of adolescent girls

Ms Joelle Breault-hood1

1Western Sydney University

We live in a visual culture that inundates us with images of an idealised body based on dominant Western societal and media influences. The body has become an object, a site of production and commerce.  For many, having negative thoughts about our bodies has become normal. Poor body image can contribute to low self-esteem, low self-confidence and never feeling that one’s body is adequate.

My research explores the possibility of an outdoor education program as an effective tool to curb the normalcy of poor body image. To do so, the impacts of outdoor education programs on the self-efficacy and body image of adolescent girls will be addressed. Through a feminist theoretical lens and mixed methods inquiry, quantitative and qualitative data will be collected in the form of pre, post, and six month follow up outdoor education program questionnaires based on the General Self-Efficacy Scale and the Objectified Body Consciousness Youth Scale and focus group interviews. Participants are 13-15 year adolescent girls who participate in outdoor education programs offered through the co-curricular component of their school.

The presentation will showcase the research background and any preliminary findings in the first round of research.

Research is limited in the Australian context on the relationship between outdoor education, adolescent girls and body image. The anticipated research outcomes include:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the role of outdoor education in affecting body image and self-efficacy of adolescent girls,
  • Providing robust evidence-based research in Australian outdoor education.


Joelle Breault-Hood (PhD Candidate) is currently working as the Communications Officer for Outdoors NSW. She is also involved with a running Tween Empowerment programs for girls. She teaches Outdoor Education and Experiential Education at the tertiary level in NSW.   She has been involved in OE for 20+ years as a facilitator, curriculum developer, program planner and OE instructor. She is currently working on her PhD investigating the impacts of outdoor education programs on adolescent girl’s self-efficacy and body image.

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