Główna Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education The effect of an outdoor orientation program on participants’ biophilic expressions

The effect of an outdoor orientation program on participants’ biophilic expressions

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Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
May, 2018
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Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

The effect of an outdoor orientation program
on participants’ biophilic expressions
Nathan W. Meltzer 1 & Andrew J. Bobilya 2 &
W. Brad Faircloth 3 & Denise Mitten 4 &
Resa M. Chandler 2

# Outdoor Education Australia 2018

Abstract The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of participation in an
outdoor orientation program on first-year college students’ relationships with the
natural world. The theory of biophilia was used as a lens through which to understand
human-nature relationships. Eighty-five first-year college students on a 21-day outdoor
orientation program were assessed at the trip’s beginning and end using the KellertShorb Biophilic Values Indicator (KSBVI). The instrument provides a biophilic profile,
a measure of how one relates to the natural world on each of nine separate subscales
that collectively articulate expression of biophilic values: aesthetic, dominionistic,
humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic, negativistic, scientific, symbolic and utilitarian. A
repeated measures MANOVA was conducted to assess changes in the KSBVI subscales
over time. Paired-sample t-tests were run to better understand the source and direction

* Andrew J. Bobilya
Nathan W. Meltzer
W. Brad Faircloth
Denise Mitten
Resa M. Chandler


Millbrook School, Millbrook, NY, USA


Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, USA


Montreat College, Montreat, NC, USA


Prescott College, Prescott, AZ, USA

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

of change on the KSBVI subscale scores. These t-tests indicated statistically significant
change from the pre to post scores in eight of the nine biophilic values. The KSBVI was
shown to possess a level of sensitivity adequate for implementation in a pre-post
design. Replication studies are recommended to further va; lidate use of the KSBVI on
adventure education programs in a pre-post format.
Keywords Biophilia . Adventure education . Outdoor orientation programs . KellertShorb Biophilic Values Indicator (KSBVI) . Biophilic expression

Humans and the natural world: relating through outdoor programs
The relationship between humans and the natural world is a complex and often
invisible, even intangible one. The setting of the natural environment, once part of
everyday human existence, is no longer an eminent part of our development. Adventure
education practitioners have often utilized the outdoor setting through various pursuits
but have not necessarily appreciated it. These pursuits have been shown to have a wide
variety of positive programmatic outcomes (Sibthorp 2003). The field of adventure
education encompasses a range of philosophies, methodologies, program types, and
intended educational outcomes (Ewert and Sibthorp 2014; Priest and Gass 2005;
Warren et al. 2008). Within adventure education programs, the natural world is a
significant component because of its dual roles as both a teacher and classroom
(Herdman 1994; Paxton and McAvoy 2000). Despite the varied definitions of adventure education (Baker 2005; Ewert and Sibthorp 2014; Hayllar 1990; Loynes 2002;
Medrick and Mitten 2011; Miles 1987; Priest 1986; Priest and Gass 2005), two
important elements of adventure education programs are the use of problem-solving
curricula and personal challenge (Priest and Gass 2005). The field of adventure
education has grown, encompassing many other types of adventure programming,
including summer camps, adventure therapy, outdoor and adventure skill-based programs, corporate training programs, outdoor orientation programs and other programs
offered in a variety of natural settings (Ewert and Sibthorp 2014; Sibthorp 2003; Webb
Outdoor orientation programs (OOPs)
Recent years have seen an increasing trend in higher education in the United
States in which incoming college students have the option to participate in
Outdoor Orientation Programs (OOPs), the intent of which is to improve student
transition to the college environment (Bell et al. 2010, 2014; Bell and Starbuck
2013). A typical OOP is a first-year college orientation program in which a small
group of students (15 or fewer participants) engage in adventure experiences that
include at least one overnight in an outdoor setting (Bell et al. 2010, 2014).
Common goals for OOPs include improving college retention, promoting community and friendships among new students (Austin et al. 2009; Bell 2006; Gass
et al. 2003), cultivating peer support networks, promoting self-growth and life
skills (Bell et al. 2010; Bobilya et al. 2011; Hinton et al. 2007; Ribbe et al.
2016), and introducing students to their new homes, both on campus and in the

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

surrounding natural environments (Davis-Berman and Berman 1996; Frauman
and Wryold 2009).
Historically, many OOPs have been grounded in the Outward Bound (OB) methodology (Bell et al. 2010) in which the natural world plays a fundamental role in the
programming (Paxton and McAvoy 2000), serving as both participants’ classroom and
teacher (Friese et al. 1998; Herdman 1994). Furthermore, the natural environment is
one of the five primary course components that have been found to impact participant
outcomes on Outward Bound (OB) programs (McKenzie 2003). While OOPs have
been shown to promote positive change in a number of areas related to the transition to
college (Bell 2006; Bobilya 2004; Bobilya et al. 2011; Gass et al. 2003; Ribbe 2011;
Ribbe et al. 2016), there has been less investigation into how these specific types of
programs affect participants’ relationships with the natural world.
One of the primary outcomes of nature or wilderness-based adventure education
programs has been to foster the development of relationships among participants
(Hayllar 1990; McAvoy et al. 1996; Miles 1995; Priest 1986). However, when the
relationship between participants and the natural world has been given more direct
programmatic attention, the pedagogical learning outcome has frequently been to
develop more environmentally sustainable behaviors (Lee 2011; Litz and Mitten
2013; Loynes 2002; Martin 2004). Some practitioners and researchers have argued
that the very definition of adventure education programs already includes acknowledgement of human-nature relationships (Beringer 2004; Henderson 1999; Mitten et al.
2017), and that these programs provide significant ecological content (Medrick and
Mitten 2011; Mitten 2009). There are also advocates for a more liberal arts approach to
adventure education that encompasses broadened nature-related topics such as the
principles of ecopsychology (Henderson 1999) and deep ecology (Beringer 2004).
Collectively, these perspectives highlight that a place exists within the context of
adventure education programming for a deep understanding of human-nature
To more thoroughly understand the importance of the natural world to human
development, the specific impact that natural environments have on humans must be
elucidated. Understanding the relationships between humans and the natural world may
help to more accurately illustrate a program’s effects on participants and help shape
curricular development and staff training with specific learning outcomes in mind.
Furthermore, increased understanding of a program’s effects on human-nature relationships could also assist organizations in ensuring that they are effectively achieving
environmental studies-related outcomes, which many articulate in program-related
The emerging theory of Bbiophilia^ (Fromm 1964) provides a broad lens through
which to understand human relationships with the natural world. Biophilic expression
or Bthe innate tendency to affiliate with life and lifelike processes^ (Wilson 1984, p. 1),
is one approach to investigating human-nature relationships during adventure education
programs. Social ecologist Stephen R. Kellert’s (2002) nine biophilic values or responses (see Table 1) provide a framework and vocabulary for articulating these
relationships: aesthetic, dominionistic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic, negativistic,

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
Table 1 A typology of values of nature: nine biophilic values or responses



Physical attractionand appeal of nature


Mastery and control of nature


Emotional bonding with nature


Ethical and spiritual relation to nature


Exploration and discovery of nature


Fear and aversion of nature


Knowledge and understanding of nature


Nature as a source of language and imagination


Nature as a source of material and physical benefit

Adapted from Kellert 2002, p. 130

scientific, symbolic and utilitarian (p. 130). The theory of biophilia suggests that
connecting with life and lifelike processes is an evolutionarily ingrained part of human
existence, and its expression is enhanced or inhibited as a result of one’s own specific
experiences and learning (Kellert 1997, 2018; Wilson 1993). The relative strength of an
individual’s biophilic expression on each of the nine values comes about through the
interplay of learning, cultural context, and direct experience with the natural world
(Kellert 2018; Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2010).
Measuring humans’ relationships with the natural world
Understanding and being able to quantify how people relate to the natural environment
helps educators, environmental planners, and others to manage their practice amid
current global environmental pressures. Insight on how people think and feel about
natural environments can be gained through the use of conservation psychology
measures, as shown by Cartwright and Mitten (2018). Many conservation psychology
measures exist, and they are structured in various ways. Through an evaluation of
seventeen conservation psychology measures, Cartwright and Mitten (2018) determined that there were various functions performed by these measures, including
detection of environmental views and a person’s connection to nature. This current
study focused on the use of one such indicator, the Kellert-Shorb Biophilic Values
Indicator (KSBVI), which was designed to measure human-nature relationships
through the lens of the theory of biophilia. The (KSBVI) consists of 99 Likert
statements used to measure nine values of affinity for nature (see Table 1). While it
was the longest and therefore the most time consuming (to complete) scale assessed
(Cartwright and Mitten 2018), the measures achieved via this instrument can provide a
graduated indication of respondents’ relationships to the natural world (Shorb and
Schnoeker-Shorb 2010). Furthermore, researchers can use it to assess changes in
participants’ self-reported biophilic expressions. The KSBVI is intended to articulate
a person’s nuanced and individual relationship with the natural world, independently of
whether or not this person subscribes to a worldview deemed to be pro-environmental.
The design of the KSBVI and the vocabulary of the nine distinct biophilic expressions

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

suggests that the instrument could provide a level of clarity not possible using other
instruments focused on the study of how individuals relate to the natural world. The
KSBVI is concerned with how individuals relate to the natural world rather than if or to
what degree they relate to the natural world.
Kellert-Shorb Biophilic Values Indicator The KSBVI, designed as an educational
tool, offers insight into the human relationship with the natural world by measuring
relative expressions of each of the nine different biophilic responses (Shorb and
Schnoeker-Shorb 2010). Responses to the 99 Likert statements are designed to provide
a measure of one’s relationship to the natural world at a given moment in time, with the
resulting aggregated responses representing an individual’s biophilic profile. The
biophilic values are theorized as common to all people, so there is the possibility that
enhanced awareness of these values can help people to understand why different
relationships with the natural environment exist, perhaps illuminating ways toward
more cooperative engagements with nature (Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2010). To
date, the KSBVI has been administered to approximately 500 people (T. Shorb,
personal communication, March 25, 2018). It has been utilized primarily as a means
of promoting greater understanding of biophilia through describing a person’s rich
spectrum of responses to the natural environment, often towards the aim of increasing
self-awareness and community connections via a more nuanced dialogue concerning
human-nature relationships (T. Shorb & Y. Schnoeker-Shorb, personal communication,
February 18, 2012). The survey was designed to aid in Battempting to comprehend the
feelings, thoughts, beliefs, motives, and behaviors through which people interpret and
develop their interactions with the natural world^ (Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2008, p.
6). The KSBVI has continued to be used to foster self-awareness and as a community
building tool (T. Shorb, personal communication, April 12, 2018). It has also been used
in college classrooms as a means of teaching about biophilic responses and in ongoing,
yet unpublished, research projects (J. Seaman, personal communication, July 7, 2017).
Biophilia in adventure education programming Kellert and Derr (1998) investigated the effects on biophilic values of participation in programs conducted by the
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the Student Conservation Association
(SCA), and OB. Their analysis was conducted using the framework of biophilic
expressions (Table 1). Findings revealed connections between program outcomes and
biophilic expressions. They further suggested that specific program activities and
experiences might resonate with participants through the lens of each biophilic subscale, with the exception of the symbolic (Kellert and Derr 1998). It is unclear why the
symbolic expression was Bomitted from the description,^ and no explanation was given
(Kellert and Derr 1998, p. 63). In interpreting their results through the framework of the
biophilic expressions, they illustrated how the examined programs provided opportunities for participants to engage with the natural world though the biophilic expressions.
As a consequence, Kellert and Derr theorized that Bimmersion and challenge in the
outdoors^ could potentially encourage the development of the nine biophilic expressions (p. 63).
The current study builds on such research by using the KSVBI to evaluate participants’ biophilic expressions at the conclusion of an outdoor orientation program with
the intent to evaluate the potential effects of program participation on first-year

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

students’ biophilic expressions. In short, the purpose of this study was to explore the
possible effects of participation in an outdoor orientation program on participants’
biophilic expressions.

Program and participants
The OOP at the centre of this study was the new student orientation program of Prescott
College (USA) which involved all new undergraduate students in a 21-day
backpacking trip, travelling in various areas on the Mogollon Rim of the White
Mountains in Arizona. The purpose of the program is to facilitate the transition to
college through forming bonds with peers and learning about their new academic and
geographic home (K. Preziosi, personal communication, June 21, 2012). The Prescott
College orientation program began in 1968 (Bell et al. 2010) and is the second oldest
OOP in the United States. The program’s components are similar to OB, with opportunities to practice leadership, communication, and backpacking, and ends with a
solitary reflection experience (solo) lasting up to 72 h. Throughout the course, participants aimed to develop technical, leadership, and interpersonal skills, with instructors
coaching their skill development. There was a concurrent academic component to the
trip which involved preparing and teaching classes to peers, regular journal reflection
activities, and creation of a portfolio that included a total of ten plant and animal
observations, coupled with drawings and information gathered from observation and
field guides. The 2012 program consisted of 13 groups of up to twelve participants,
with an average group size of 9–10 participants per group. Most groups had two
instructors, and two groups had three. Participants were balanced among groups with
regard to participants’ prior experience, personal background, and age. Group discussions focused on themes that included the transition to college, ecological concepts,
sense of place, and academic interests.
Participants were included in the study based on criterion sampling (Patton 2002).
The participants eligible for the study were those enrolled in the new student orientation
program in August and September, 2012. Of the 126 students who participated in the
program, 85 completed both pre and post surveys. Male (n = 39) and female (n = 46)
participants ranged in age from 16 to 50, with 70% of the sample being between the
ages of 16–20. Participation in the study was completely voluntary; participants could
withdraw at any point. The project was reviewed and approved by the Prescott College
Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to data collection.
Data collection
The primary form of biophilic data collection for this study was the KSBVI. This was
administered in a pre and post survey format, firstly on campus before students
departed for their fieldtrip and again in the field on the final night of the trip. The
primary aim of the study was to investigate possible effects of participation in the new
student orientation program on participants’ biophilic profiles. Participants’ pre and
post scores were calculated for each of the nine subscales, resulting in individual

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

biophilic profiles. Mean pre and post KSBVI scores were then calculated for each
biophilic subscale by averaging the scores of all participants.
Subscales of the KSBVI The KSBVI consists of 99 items, with 11 items for each of
the nine biophilic values: aesthetic, dominionistic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic,
negativistic, scientific, symbolic and utilitarian (2002, pp. 130–131). Aesthetic
biophilic expression is defined as a connection with nature through the appreciation
of beauty (Kellert 1996), and it serves the adaptational advantage of highlighting those
natural features that aid in survival (Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2010). This expression
is characterized by emotions of harmony, security, inspiration, and awe (Kellert 1993,
1996). Dominionistic biophilic expression is defined as Bmastery and control^ of the
natural world (Kellert 2002, p. 130), and it can be enacted through succeeding in the
face of challenging situations in the natural environment (Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb
2010). This expression is also speculated to relate to the development of skills that
would be helpful in challenging situations in the natural world (Kellert and Derr 1998).
Humanistic biophilic expression primarily reflects an emotional connection to the
natural world, however Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb (2010) noted that an additional
common expression of this biophilic response is through connection with others when
in a natural setting. Kellert and Derr (1998) conjectured that participants would enact
the humanistic expression via bonding within a small hike group. Moralistic biophilic
expression is defined as the Bethical and spiritual connection to nature^ (Kellert 2002,
p. 130). Naturalistic biophilic expression centers on Bsatisfaction derived from direct
contact with nature,^ (Kellert 1993, p. 45), and encompasses feelings of immersion in
the moment (Kellert 1996). Negativistic biophilic expression is defined as Bfear and
aversion of nature^ (Kellert 2002). Scientific biophilic expression refers to the connection to the natural world via empirical study (Kellert 1996). Symbolic biophilic
expression is defined as finding inspiration for language, meaning, and symbolism
from the natural world (Kellert 2002). Processes like language acquisition and language
comprehension are common enactments of symbolic biophilic expression (Kellert
1996). In their interpretation of extended Wilderness Experience Program (WEP)
outcomes through the lens of biophilia, Kellert and Derr (1998) chose not to include
symbolic biophilic expression as a category that participants resonated with during
these types of programs. It is unclear why they did not choose to include this subscale
(Kellert and Derr 1998). Finally, Utilitarian biophilic expression is defined as looking to
nature Bas a source of material and physical benefit^ (Kellert 2002, p. 130). Kellert and
Derr (1998) theorized that participants on a WEP would enact the utilitarian expression
via the behaviors related to relying upon the natural world for survival.
In the KSBVI, participants are asked to rate the degree to which they agree/disagree
with each of the items in the nine subscales (biophilic values) on a 4-point Likert scale
(4 – strongly agree to 1 – strongly disagree; Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2010). Eleven
items are summed for each subscale to produce nine separate scores, with each subscale
score ranging from 11 to 44. A score of 44 indicates the highest possible expression.
Internal reliability of the KSBVI was assessed by calculating pre alpha scores for each
subscale. Alpha scores can range from excellent to unacceptable (α > .9 – Excellent,
α > .8 – Good, α > .7 – Acceptable, α > .6 – Questionable, α > .5 – Poor, and α < .5 –
Unacceptable (George and Mallery 2003). Alpha scores for the KSBVI subscales in
this sample ranged from acceptable to unacceptable. In particular, the Aesthetic

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

(α = .42), Symbolic (α = .45), and Utilitarian (α = .48) subscales produced unacceptable alphas at the pre assessments. The Dominionistic subscale was in the poor range,
and the Negativistic (α = .65), Humanistic (α = .66), Naturalistic (α = .69), Scientific
(α = .68), and Moralistic (α = .67) subscales were in the questionable range. However,
when calculated as a total score, and not by individual subscales, the KSBVI pre score
was acceptable, α = .75. In other words, the measure as a whole has acceptable internal

Data analyses
Only complete pre and post data sets were included in the analysis, resulting in a final
sample size of 85 participants (67% of the original sample). To ensure anonymity,
participant’s names were removed from the dataset, and ID numbers were used to
match pre and post data. Pre and post KSBVI scores for each of the nine biophilic
expressions for each participant were calculated by summing the responses on the 11
items associated with each subscale. The resulting biophilic profiles were averaged
across all participants to produce mean pre and post KSBVI scores for each of the
biophilic expressions. First, internal reliability estimates were calculated for each
subscale and the total KSBVI. Next, correlations between the pre KSBVI subscales
were calculated. Finally, a repeated measures Multivariate Analysis of Variance
(MANOVA; Rausch et al. 2003) was conducted to assess change in KSBVI scores
over time. A series of paired-samples t-tests were then conducted to conduct pair-wise
comparisons for each subscale.
Correlations were run to examine the relationships between the nine biophilic
expressions as measured by the KSBVI. The results of these correlation analyses are
illustrated in Table 2.
Change in KSBVI scores over time
A repeated measures MANOVA was conducted to assess change in the KSBVI
subscales over time. The MANOVA model included Time (2) and Time*Subscale
Table 2 Correlations between pre KSBVI scores






























* p ≤ 0.05; ** p ≤ 0.01


















Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

factors. There was a significant main effect of time, F(1, 84) = 8.48, p = .01 and a
significant Time*KSBVI interaction, F(8, 77) = 5.97, p < .01. This means that there are
differences between the pre and post scores (i.e., time), without taking the subscale
factor into account. Paired-sample t-tests were then run to better understand the source
and direction of change on the KSBVI subscale scores. These t-tests indicated statistically significant change from the pre to post scores in eight of the nine biophilic
values. Table 3 presents the results of the analyses of change in biophilic expression. It
is noteworthy that the alpha scores for the aesthetic and symbolic subscales were found
to be in the Bunacceptable^ range, meaning that the results for these two subscales
should be interpreted cautiously.
These results show that the following scores (averaged from the 85 biophilic
profiles) increased from pre to post: aesthetic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic,
and scientific. The following scores decreased from pre to post: negativistic,
symbolic, and utilitarian. The dominionistic score neither increased nor decreased.
For these latter three biophilic expressions (negativistic, symbolic, utilitarian) the
scores were initially below 26 on the KSBVI scale, and they decreased during the
program. The scores that clustered above 30 initially all increased, while those
three of the four that were below 26 decreased. Thus, those biophilic expressions
with the highest scores increased while, conversely, those with the lowest scores
decreased, with the exception of the unchanged dominionistic score. The two
biophilic expressions with the largest amount of change were the scientific and
aesthetic, which both increased. It is worth repeating that the aesthetic subscale
had alpha scores in the Bunacceptable^ range at both the pre and post-test,
indicating that this result should also be interpreted cautiously.

Overall, the results of the study indicate that participants related to the natural world
through the aesthetic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic, and scientific biophilia expressions more strongly than they related through the dominionistic, negativistic,
Table 3 Paired sample t-tests for program participants’ changes from pre to post biophilic expression
















































































df for all t-tests were (84); M Mean, SES standardized effect size

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

scientific, and symbolic expressions, as measured by the KSBVI in both pre and post
tests. The average scores for the aesthetic, humanistic, moralistic, naturalistic, and
scientific biophilic expressions were each above 30 on the KSBVI scoring rubric.
The lowest expressions were the negativistic, dominionistic, utilitarian, and symbolic,
as participants scored below 26 on each of these expressions for both the pre and post
scores. These results suggest that participants in this study tended to relate more
strongly to the natural world through aesthetic, naturalistic, humanistic, scientific, and
moralistic biophilic expressions and related more weakly through negativistic,
dominionistic, utilitarian, and symbolic biophilic expressions. The higher initial scores
and the increase in scores during the program are two separate results that suggest that
participants had a stronger relationship with the natural world through the five highestscoring biophilic expressions. Similarly, the lower initial scores for the other four
expressions and the descrease in scores for three of the four lowest expressions are
separate results that both suggest participants’ weaker relationships with the natural
world as understood through the lens of these biophilic expressions and as measured by
their KSBVI scores.
These results confirm many of Kellert and Derr’s (1998) speculations that
Bimmersion and challenge in the outdoors^ (p. 63), like that found in an OOP, could
foster the development of biophilic expressions. In other words, these results support
Kellert and Derr’s (1998) assertion that a wilderness program, such as an OOP, could
provide rich opportunities to engage at least some of the biophilic expressions. The
results also align with and augment Kellert and Derr’s (1998) discussion of how the
biophilic expressions might be fostered in the context of AE programming, as the
KSBVI provides a specific, empirical manner in which to observe noted changes in
biophilic expression which can be overlaid onto Kellert and Derr’s (1998) discussion of
the theory of biophilia in the context of AE. Combining the KSBVI scores with Kellert
and Derr’s (1998) observations further suggests that: a) the biophilic values may serve
as a feasible lens through which to measure and through these measures to understand
human-nature relationships in the context of a wilderness program; and b) observing
the effects of program participation through this framework aligns with previous work
linking participant experiences to the biophilic subscales.
Reliability analyses revealed that, when calculated for each subscale, the alpha
scores ranged from good to unacceptable, however using the KSBVI as a total score
produced acceptable levels of internal stability. In other words, taken as whole the
KSBVI is an internally stable measure. These findings indicate that the aesthetic and
symbolic subscales were not internally consistent, meaning that the t-test results for
these subscales should be interpreted cautiously.
These varied reliability scores for the subscales and the instrument as a whole align
with an understanding of the biophilic expressions as being interrelated and indicates
that the biophilic expressions interacted with each other and operated in a form of
conjunction, as opposed to functioning in isolated and mutually exclusive ways. This
suggests the need for future investigation into ways to improve internal reliability of the
KSBVI subscales along with further psychometric evaluation of the KSBVI. One
option is item reduction analyses, both to determine which specific questions on the
measure correspond most closely to the intended biophilic expression, and as a means
of identifying questions to possibly revise if they contribute to low reliability, especially
for the aesthetic and symbolic subscales.

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

Changes in biophilic expression during a 21-day outdoor orientation program
The results of the repeated measures MANOVA revealed that there is a main effect of
Time when comparing pre and post scores on the nine Biophilia expressions. This
indicates that pre scores are significantly different from post scores. The Time*Subscale
interaction effect indicates that how the scores changed over time differed according to
each of the nine subscales. The results of the paired-samples t-tests showed change on
eight of the nine KSBVI subscales (see Table 3), indicating that a 21-day OOP
influenced participants’ biophilic expressions in different ways specific to each subscale. The effect sizes for changes in each of the nine subscales ranged from small to
medium (d = .18–.57). While the majority of the changes had small effect sizes, it may
be worth noting that these changes occurred after only 21 days and as part of a
university OOP.
These changes indicate that the KSBVI was sensitive enough to detect changes from
pre to post. The results detailed below outline findings dealing with the nature of each
biophilic expression, and include findings about the stability of biophilia as a personality trait, a snapshot of mean KSBVI scores among participants, the ability of biophilic
expression to change based on learning and experiences, and some observations about
quantity and direction of observed change.
Aesthetic biophilic expression Participants connected to the natural world through
aesthetic features during the program as indicated by a statistically significant increase
in mean aesthetic KSBVI scores pre to post. These findings seem to mirror what Kellert
and Derr (1998) found in participant testimonials, as many in their study cited enduring
memories of the beauty of the land. Overall, this suggests that participants derived
connection through the beauty of the natural world – the natural environments and the
scenery of the southwestern United States – and this way of relating. As this is one of
the subscales determined unreliable by the previously discussed alpha scores, this result
should be interpreted more cautiously than some of the results for subscales with higher
alpha scores.
Dominionistic biophilic expression Participants’ dominionistic biophilic expressions
were unchanged over the course of the OOP. Though participants showed a measurable
expression of the dominionistic biophilic response, participation in this OOP appears to
have had no effect on this biophilic subscale. Based on the primary researcher’s own
observations, curricular components that could encourage its development in future
OOPs might include learning and practicing navigation and route-finding skills, backcountry cooking skills, and general backpacking techniques. Additionally, the use of
skills related to the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles could lead to future enactments of
the dominionistic expression that are valued as positive or healthy.
Humanistic biophilic expression Participants’ humanistic KSBVI scores increased
significantly from pre to post. There is a possibility that the humanistic biophilic
expression was also enacted via the community building and group development that
occurred during the program. These findings are similar to other studies that have
identified increased feelings of community on an OOP (Bobilya et al. 2011; Wolfe and
Kay 2011), improved outcomes related to group dynamics on both an OOP (Wolfe and

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

Kay 2011) and on a general WEP (Ewert and McAvoy 2000), and the initiation of
enduring friendships through participation on an OOP (Gass et al. 2003).
It is also possible that the cultivation of a sense of place through immersion in the
natural landscape led to an increase in the humanistic expression. Sense of place is
defined as Bthe variety of affective and cognitive bonds that people form to a particular
environment^ (Hutson and Bailey 2008), and a sense of place can help people to
Bidentify and respond to the emotional and spiritual bonds that people form with certain
spaces^ (Williams and Stewart 1998, p. 18). In this way, a sense of place would likely
resonate with both the moralistic and humanistic biophilic responses.
Moralistic biophilic expression There was a high initial mean moralistic KSBVI
score (38.41), along with an increase in these scores during the program. These results
suggest that participants’ experiences of the natural world on the trip were strongly
mediated by an ethical and spiritual connection, and that this connection increased
during the program. These findings align with prior research showing wilderness
program participation to result in increases in concern for the natural environment
among Outward Bound Western Canada participants (McKenzie 2003) and gains in
feelings of stewardship and spiritual connection among college outdoor orientation
program participants (Bobilya et al. 2011). The change in moralistic expression,
coupled with instructors’ observations that there were numerous group discussions
about the intrinsic value of the natural world, may confirm the speculation from Kellert
and Derr (1998) that participants on a WEP would enact moralistic biophilic expression
through feelings of spirituality and humility. Finally, a high average moralistic biophilic
expression suggests that this particular program provided opportunities for connection
to the natural environment beyond simply using it as a program backdrop.
Naturalistic biophilic expression Participants began the study with a high average
KSBVI score in naturalistic expression (36.64) and there was also a statistically
significant increase in participants’ averaged naturalistic biophilic expression during
the program. This suggests that participants connected to the natural world through the
physical use of their bodies in the larger natural environment. These results suggest that
the immersive nature of this program, with backpacking as the primary daily activity
for nearly 3 weeks, could have been a factor contributing to increases in naturalistic
biophilic expression. This OOP emphasized hiking, direct observation of plants and
animals, and navigation over remote terrain. These three activities were hypothesized
by Kellert and Derr to be parts of a WEP that would promote cultivation of naturalistic
biophilic expression (1998). These results support Kellert’s assertion that one primary
enactment of naturalistic biophilic expression is through the practice of outdoor skills,
including hiking, tracking, and orienteering (1993, p. 46). Finally, the increase from pre
to post supports Kellert and Derr’s (1998) hypothesis that participation on an extended
wilderness program would encourage a strong naturalistic biophilic expression.
Negativistic biophilic expression The mean negativistic biophilic expression decreased significantly from pre to post OOP. Since the adaptive benefit of negativistic
biophilic expression is the avoidance of potential harm to humans (Kellert 1997), it
would be expected that safely navigating the hazards present in wilderness travel would
result in opportunities for expression of this value. One interpretation for the decrease in

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

negativistic biophilic expression is that it may indicate a decrease in maladaptive, or
unhealthy enactments of this expression, possibly with simultaneous increases in
adaptive, or healthy enactments.
An unhealthy enactment of any given biophilic expression would be the behaviors
stemming from the expression that are ultimately detrimental to the health of the person
carrying them out. Conversely, a healthy enactment of a biophilic expression would be
behaviors stemming from a specific biophilic expression that are deemed beneficial to
the health of the person carrying them out. The authors acknowledge that a judgment of
whether or not a particular enactment of a biophilic expression is healthy is necessarily
rooted in the value system imposed by the person making the judgment.
In the context of the negativistic biophilic expression, the following hypothetical
examples illustrate two ways that the results could have been influenced by a decrease
in unhealthy enactments with a simultaneous increase in healthy enactments. First, if
participants entered the program with a debilitating fear of insects, then this could be
dubbed an unhealthy initial enactment of the negativistic expression. If participants
then developed an increased tolerance for insects through regular interactions during
the program, and this fear decreased, then this would represent a decrease in this
maladaptive enactment of the negativistic biophilic expression. Conversely, an example
of the development of a healthy enactment of the negativistic expression might be a
participant’s development of a deeper understanding of how to read storm cycles, along
with the development of accompanying strategies to mitigate the risk of being struck by
lightning. In this scenario, the increased awareness and diligence towards thunder
storms would represent a healthy and beneficial fear of an aspect of the natural world,
and thus a healthy enactment of the biophilic expression.
In their analysis, Kellert and Derr (1998) observed that most participants on an
extended WEP at some point during the trip experienced fear and anxiety stemming
from a heightened understanding of potentially harmful parts of the natural world. The
participants also reported overcoming this fear as a positive experience. It is possible
that a shift from more maladaptive to adaptive negativistic enactments occurred on this
OOP, mirroring Kellert and Derr’s (1998) observations of participants finding empowerment through overcoming fears and learning healthy ways of coping with apprehensions stemming from aspects of the natural environment. Since fear of the natural world
may be on the rise in younger populations coming from industrialized backgrounds
(Louv 2006; Mitten and Woodruff 2010), it would make sense that positive, extended
direct experience in a wilderness context could result in a reduction of these anxieties
among many participants in an OOP.
Another, opposing theory is the notion that cultivating an appreciation for the
dangers in the natural world could lead to increases in negativistic biophilic expression.
In other words, the development of judgment and decision-making skills, found to
increase on a wilderness program (Sibthorp et al. 2007), would lead one to expect
negativistic biophilic expression to increase through the healthy development of sound
Scientific biophilic expression The mean scientific biophilic expression significantly
increased from pre to post suggesting that participants cultivated a strong scientific
biophilic connection during the program. Science-related activities made up a significant part of this curriculum in this OOP, as participants learned the names of plants and

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

animals, drew pictures of plant and animal species, learned about natural processes at
play, and participated in classes and discussions exploring a variety of scientific
concepts. In addition, participants were actively engaged with the natural environment
through empirical inquiry. The results suggest that a major focus of this OOP is
connecting to the natural world through scientific means, as this expression had the
largest increase from pre to post, with a t-value of 5.19. The researchers speculate that
the aforementioned student portfolios, which comprised a portion of the program
curriculum, may have had a role in cultivating students’ connections to the natural
world through a scientific lens.
Symbolic biophilic expression This biophilic expression had the lowest mean
initial score of all nine biophilic values (21.17) and decreased from pre to post.
The low average post symbolic score suggests that participants on this OOP were
only minimally relating to the natural world through this biophilic expression (as
compared with other forms of biophilic expression), and that this relationship
decreased during the trip. It is not immediately apparent why this was so.
However, the phrasing of some of the items for the symbolic expression on
the KSBVI may have affected participant responses in a way that affected the
results for this subscale. Some items asked participants to select between responses that juxtaposed direct experience in the natural world with connection
via symbolic means. Yet, a participant may have connected to the natural world
via both direct experience and symbolic means. It is possible that the opposite of
connecting to the natural world via symbolic representations may not be via
direct experience, but rather by not connecting via symbolic sources. In other
words, connection to the natural world via symbolic representations and connection through direct experience may not be mutually exclusive. If some participant
responses were affected by having to select between these two, then it is possible
that there could have been a diminished numerical representation of the symbolic
biophilic expression.
Utilitarian biophilic expression The change from pre to post for mean utilitarian
biophilic expression was a significant decrease. Despite having a lower average
post score, participants were still engaging with the natural environment through
its use and function, however this way of relating decreased during the program.
Kellert and Derr (1998) theorized that participants on a WEP would enact the
utilitarian expression via the behaviors related to relying upon the natural world
for survival. Some such activities that were intrinsic to this particular program
that may have resulted in the enactment of the utilitarian biophilic expression
include finding water sources, searching for adequate campsites, and arranging
nightly bear hangs. The overall decrease in this expression may support prior
work highlighting participants’ feelings of appreciation for the natural world
through participation on a WEP (Kellert and Derr 1998; Sibthorp et al. 2011).
The decrease in utilitarian biophilic expression may be related to an increase in
moralistic biophilic expression, as revealed in the findings. It is possible that the
teaching of LNT principles affected participants’ utilitarian expressions, along
with an increase in understanding and appreciation of the plants and animals
inhabiting this environment.

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

Theory of biophilia
These results provide numerous insights into the theory of biophilia, as they illustrate
an empirical testing of the concept. While the work that went into the development of
the typology of biophilic values was rooted in the exploration of people’s relationships
with the natural world, much of the subsequent work elaborating the nature of biophilic
expression has been of a theoretical nature (Kellert 1997, 2002, 2012; Kellert et al.
2008). This study has provided an opportunity to explore biophilic expression empirically. The pre and post surveying of participants with the KSBVI has also provided a
method to better understand the expression of biophilia, as measured by this
Changes in biophilic expression during the program
It was observed that mean biophilic expressions tended to cluster together into two
groups on the KSBVI scoring scale. There was one cluster of higher KSBVI scores
(aesthetic, moralistic, humanistic, naturalistic, scientific) and another cluster of lower
scores (negativistic, symbolic, utilitarian). These two sets of scores subsequently
showed change in opposite directions during the course, with the higher scores
increasing, and the lower scores decreasing. In other words, those expressions that
were over 30 for the pre and post tests showed increases during the program, and the
scores that were below 26 for the pre and post tests showed decreases during the
program (with the exception of the dominionistic expression which did not show
significant change).
The finding of clustered scores moving together in opposite directions could indicate
a relationship among biophilic subscales in which the different scores interacted with
one another. According to this notion, the direction of change for certain biophilic
expressions could have had a subsequent effect on direction of change for other
expressions. This phenomenon could have played out with certain scores mutually
reinforcing each other during the trip, resulting in clustered scores moving together.
Conversely, the opposite could have occurred, with increases in some scores leading to
decreases in others, as may have happended with utilitarian and moralistic biophilic
values. The scope of this study makes any causal relationships difficult to pinpoint, but
this relationship and possible pattern of interaction among the subscales is worthy of
further investigation.
While the biophilic expressions themselves are not couched in a value system with
certain biophilic expressions labelled as either positive or negative, it is worth acknowledging that there may have been larger cultural factors in play, wherein the norms of a
WEP position certain biophilic expressions as having a positive or negative connotation. In other words, it is possible that the observed clustering could reflect larger
cultural value systems that deem relating to the natural world via certain biophilic
expressions as positive and others as negative. If this were, in fact, the case, and if the
negativistic, dominionistic, and utilitarian biophilic expressions were viewed in a
negative light, then it is possible that this culturally-rooted conceptualization could
have played into these scores being lower at pre-test and then subsequently further
decreasing over the duration of the program to post-test. It is beyond the scope of this
study to clarify this issue.

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

The aim of this study was to apply the KSBVI to an OOP conducted as a WEP in a
pre and post format to assess its reliability in measuring programmatic effects on
biophilic expression. This study represented the first use of the KSBVI in the field
of adventure education and in a pre-post format. The results of reliability testing
indicate that the instrument is internally stable and reliable when tested as a whole,
however some of the subscales had unacceptable alpha scores, and should thus be
interpreted with caution. The KSBVI was found to still have utility when used in a
pre-post design, despite these ranging reliability scores and despite the instrument’s
intended creation for self-assessment and community-building purposes. In other
words, despite the limitations that have been indicated about the internal stability
scores for some of the subscales, the results of this study support that the KSBVI
can be used to assess various biophilic profiles of participants in an outdoor
orientation program. The KSBVI was sensitive enough to detect change in participants’ biophilic expression scores on 8 of the 9 subscales from pre to post,
regardless of the significant correlations between participants’ scores at those
assessment points. In other words, the KSBVI had enough statistical power to
detect changes in those subscales over time with a moderate sample size.
Future research would benefit from including moderation analyses to explore the
influence of a number of factors, including geographic area of upbringing, gender, age,
population density in area of upbringing, amount of time spent in the natural world
during childhood, and previous OOP or summer camp experience. Because the primary
reasons for change in biophilic expression are theorized to be direct experience, social
learning, and cultural conditioning (Shorb and Schnoeker-Shorb 2010), future research
should combine an assessment of biophilic expression with other data that can assist in
understanding the relationships between curricular components and changes in KSBVI
Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that studying the effects of an OOP on
participants’ relationships with the natural world through the lens of biophilia can
provide insight into participant growth and programmatic outcomes. This lens could
prove useful for educators and program directors interested in a deeper understanding
of their programs. In such a situation, students might complete the KSBVI after their
return from the field as a way to spark dialogue and reflection about their experiences in
the natural world, and as a means of articulating their relationships, connections, and
observations from the field.
Integrating the vocabulary of biophilia into the field of AE could assist researchers and practitioners by providing a framework with which to more deeply
understand connections that participants make with different components of the
natural world. Using the KSBVI to measure participants’ biophilic profiles, and
possible changes to these biophilic profiles, could offer a new source of information to better understand the human nature relationship and influencing factors.
Continued research may provide insight into how programmatic components
resonate with the various biophilic expressions. This heightened understanding
of human-natural relationships could benefit practitioners, participants, and researchers in continuing to explore the effects of AE programming on biophilic

Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

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Nathan W. Meltzer completed this study in partial fulfillment of his degree requirements for an MA in
Adventure Education and Experiential Education from Prescott College, in Prescott, AZ. Nate is currently a
Spanish Instructor at the Millbrook School, in Millbrook, NY. His research interests include the human
relationship with the natural world, the integration of environmental studies into outdoor programming, and
the interplay between pedagogy and programmatic outcomes.
Andrew J. Bobilya currently serves as an Associate Professor and Program Director in the Parks and
Recreation Management program at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He has
served as a wilderness program field instructor, trainer and course director. His research interests include
wilderness program outcomes, wilderness solitude, experiential education and spirituality, autonomous student
experiences, and first-year college student programming.
W. Brad Faircloth currently serves as an Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Services and
Director of Assessment at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina. Previously he worked for North
Carolina Early Intervention and Early Head Start supporting families with children with disabilities. His
research interests include wilderness program outcomes, marital conflict prevention programming, visual
perception, and neurological effects of outdoor experiences.
Denise Mitten serves on the graduate faculty in Adventure Education and Sustainability Education at Prescott
College. An author of Natural Environments and Human Health, Denise advocates for contact with nature for
positive human development and health and supports this assertion through research examining spiritual
connections to outdoor spaces, body image in outdoor activities, and spending time in nature to help women
with eating disorders.
Resa M. Chandler is a current faculty member in the Health and Physical Education program at Western
Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Her research interests include the physiological responses
to exercise including wilderness adventure-based exercise, endocrine responses to weight lifting, and ergogenic nutrition.