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The behavioral ecology model was used to examine tasks and accountability in a secondary school outdoor adventure camp. Similar to results in physical education, the teachers held students strongly accountable for accomplishing managerial tasks, whereas accomplishing instructional tasks saw greater variance of performance outcomes. However, in significant contrast to the school setting, there were high levels of task involvement in the absence of any formal accountability. Although students were not given grades for the camp, many students were fully involved in all instructional tasks. The explanation for this is twofold. First, the nature of instructional tasks was such that ambiguity and risk could be manipulated by students to present an optimal level of challenge. Second, the student social system actually drove the instructional tasks system, whereby the students’ social agenda actually encouraged and supported full participation. The implications for teaching physical education are discussed.
Peter A. Hastie is with the Department of Health and Human Performance at Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5323.