Methods of Teaching Outdoor Activities


HPSS 4445 - Research Paper






Research Paper - Non Practicum Track

The Assignment

Your assignment is to research and write a research paper on some topic in outdoor education of interest to you.


Paper Formatting Requirements


Number of Pages.  The required minimum number of pages for the body of the paper are: 12 pages (3-credit option) or 18 pages (4-credit option).  The required page count does not include the title page and reference list page.


References Required.  The number of references required are: Seven (7) different references (3-credit option) and ten (10) different references (4-credit option).


Paper and Citation Format.  Format the paper and the citations in APA style.  APA style is the standard used for research papers in the outdoor education field.


Here’s a on-line guide to APA format: On-line Guide


Also, here are two PDF quick guides to the APA style that you can download and print:


Wayne State Guide (PDF)
St Mary's Guide (PDF)


Note that there are some slight differences between the 6th and 7th versions of APA.  Don’t worry about those, just make sure you are correctly formatting according to one of the sources above.


Structure of Paper.  Include a title page, the body of the paper and a reference list page.  You do not have to  include a table of contents or an abstract.  Here’s link to a template you can use for structuring your paper:  Template (courtesy of Library Connect)


Randy Rambo of Illinois Valley Community College has put together an excellent set of resourses: General Help on Writing Essays Research Papers.



Grading Rubric


I utilize a grading rubric that was developed by Randy Rambo of Illinois Valley Community College. Here's a link to the Rubric: Grading Rubric



Possible Subjects for the Paper


Here are some ideas for your paper:


Build on the Essay Assignment. One possibility is to expand upon the topic you selected for the essay assignment.  You’ve already done some research on the topic and you may wish to do more, exploring the subject in greater detail.


Controversial Topic.  Select a controversial topic in outdoor education or recreation, indicate your position on the topic, and support your position.


Teaching.  Put together a curriculum for teaching an outdoor activity that you enjoy.  Explain what age group you would target and how you would structure the lessons.  Describe the content of the lessons and what sort of teaching style you would use.


Philosophy.  We have talked a little about educational philosophy.  You might want to expand upon the teaching philosophy that most attracts you.  Support your choice of philosophy with supporting information from past thinkers in the field.


Equipment.  Pick a piece of outdoor equipment and expand upon how it was developed, manufactured, and is used by consumers.


Outdoor Business.  Select a successful outdoor business.  Describe the products it sells (or services it provide).  Provide some history about the business and what factors  made it successful.



Some Helpful Information on Writing a Research Paper


1. Thesis Statement.  Like writing an essay, you want to develop a thesis statement which encapsulates the purpose and position of your research paper.  As we discussed in the lecture on writing essays, you may wish to start with a question and then use the thesis statement to answer it.


You want your thesis statement to be concise, occupying only a sentence or two.  As you make progress with your paper, and as you do more research, don’t be afraid to revise the thesis statement.  The thesis statement is important because it helps keep you on track, preventing you from doing a lot of unneeded research.  Use it as a sort of map to help guide you as you do the research


2. Outline.  It can be very helpful to create an informal outline of your paper before you begin writing.  I do this with much of my own writing.  I don’t worry about using Roman numerals, numbers and letters, I just write down a series of words or short phases to represent the basic ideas I’d like to get across in the paper. 


After I write down the basic ideas, I’ll look at how I might order things. I’ll move the order of the words and phrases around until it seems like a logical flow of ideas.  All this is pretty rough, often sketched out with pencil and paper, but when it comes to the actual writing, the rough outline becomes a map, like the thesis statement, to help keep me moving forward instead of being sidelined.


3. First Draft.  When you have a rough outline (described above), go ahead and start writing the paper.  Don’t worry about grammar, just write, using the rough outline to help guide you, moving from topic to topic.  It’s not necessary to start at the beginning with the introduction, rather start where you feel most comfortable.


4. Citations.  Be sure that you keep track of any ideas or quotes that you are using from your research.  I generally like to write first, getting my thoughts on paper, and then go back and add the citations.  Adding the citations while writing seems to destroy the flow of writing. 


But don’t delay too long.  Once you get some writing done,  it’s important to get the citations added fairly soon afterward.  You want to make sure that you recognize and reference other people’s ideas and work.  Not to do so is plagiarism.


5. Final Draft.  You may be able to move from the first draft to a final draft, but typically, you’ll probably have many minor drafts before arriving at the final.  It will depend on how the writing has progressed.  You may decide that you are lacking in one area and need a bit more research to beef up a part of your paper.


 6. Give Yourself Some Time.  One thing is clear:  give the revision process some time.  Avoiding cramming a paper into a couple of days.  It always leads to better results when you have some rest periods between revisions.  When you re-look at things you’ve written a day to two or three later, you’ll find that you can better express your ideas. 


Even though you may not be thinking about the paper in a conscious manner between revisions, you will be subconsciously.  The synapses in our brain, particularly during sleep, will be busy processing it.  A day or two later, when you look at your writing again, you’ll be coming at with a fresh view and you’ll suddenly find new ways of expressing yourself.


When I write, even something short, I’ll keep making minor edits and revisions over a period of several days, or sometimes with a big project, over several weeks.  Without fail, my writing always turns out better.


6. Final Formatting.  Initially, your citations may be a little rough and that’s fine, but at this stage, you need make sure your citations follow APA guidelines.  Be sure to have title page, reference page, etc. according to the structure guidelines. 


7.  Have Someone Else Read It.  Finally, be sure to have a friend or spouse read it.  They’ll invariably find something that you missed.  I am Exhibit A in this regard.  I have lots of writing experience, but I still need an extra set of eyes as much as anyone else.  Even when I think I’ve been through my writing with a fine tooth comb, Kathy, my wife, always turns up something.








Top of Page