Emotional highs in adult experiential learning

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 2016, 56 (3), pp. 353 - 373
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© 2016, Adult Learning Australia Inc. All rights reserved. Despite knowing that positive emotional experiences tend to be beneficial for adult learning, our incomplete understanding of the emotional system rarely allows us to incorporate emotion adequately in real learning situations. The experience of emotional highs, as observed in adult experiential learning courses, has been selected as the phenomenon of the study. This paper is concerned with developing a more sophisticated understanding of the phenomenon by studying the lived experience of emotional highs. Hermeneutic phenomenology has been selected as a suitable approach. This approach examines the lived state of emotional highs as well as recognises how adult learners make sense of these experiences. The lived experiences of 15 Australian adult learners were examined. Learners participated in one of three 4-8 day adult experiential learning courses, including two Outward Bound courses. The courses were held half indoors and half outdoors. Learners reflected and made sense of their lived experience through surveys and semi-structured interviews. As a result, a sophisticated definition of emotional highs is proposed.
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