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Addressing the Barriers and Supports to Racial and Ethnic Minority Student Engagement in Outdoor Programs

1 January 2017


This phenomenological informed study investigated the barriers and supports to racial and ethnic minority student engagement in outdoor programs. Data collection was done through three semi-structured focus groups with 11 total full time student participants, ages 18 to 30. Participant data was then transcribed verbatim, analyzed, and coded into themes and their pertaining sub themes. Five overarching main themes emerged from the data including: supports to outdoor program engagement, benefits of outdoor programs, in-group and out-group experience, barriers to outdoor program engagement, and suggestions for change. Unique experiences by the participants were shared regarding the supports and barriers they face when participating in outdoor programs. Supports to outdoor program engagement included: Outdoor cultural climate, peer support, outreach to diversity clubs, and effective marketing. Barriers to outdoor program engagement included: lack of peer support or cultural mismatch, perceived lack of skill, lack of diversity in outdoor program staff other cultural factors, financial and scheduling barriers, and lack of transportation. Additional findings included minority students placing a heightened importance on peer support and trust within their diversity group or club, the effectiveness of outreach to diversity clubs, and systemic barriers within university settings. Study limitations and directions where then given for future research in order to promote further understanding of outdoor programs and how they can tailor their programs to be more inclusive racial and ethnic minority students.


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