'What do boot camps really achieve?': a means-end analysis of the limited service volunteers programme.

Author:Maxwell, Robert
Position::Report
 
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Abstract

This article identifies participants' perceptions of the outcomes from Limited Service Volunteers at Burnham Military Camp, a programme that provides motivational intervention for the unemployed. Means-end theory has been used to examine the relationships between the activities (the "means") and the resulting values (the "ends"). This article describes the most important outcomes, as perceived by participants during the Limited Service Volunteers programme. Means-end interviews were conducted with 85 participants of the October 2006 intake. Analysis of the data is represented in ladder maps, illustrating the links between individual activities and the associated outcomes. Demographic variables of age, gender and ethnicity highlight the variances of outcomes between these subgroups. A second set of means-end interviews was conducted with 28 participants by phone six months after the course, highlighting the outcomes that had a lasting impression on the participants. The results demonstrate the positive and lasting outcomes of the Limited Service Volunteers programme, and thus can be used to show the effects and enhance the design and delivery of the programme.

INTRODUCTION

At the time of this study there were 30,925 people in New Zealand who were unable to secure employment, forcing them to be dependent on taxpayer-funded benefits (Ministry of Social Development 2007). Unemployment has the effect of lowering an individual's sense of self-efficacy and motivation, with downstream consequences including higher incidences of crime, family violence and social disconnection (Feather 1992, Ministry of Social Development 1994). Therefore, programmes that intervene in this decline in the unemployed person's motivation and self-efficacy are an important step in enabling them to re-engage with the workforce.

Unfortunately, until now motivational interventions conducted in the outdoor environment have not produced significant results (de Boer 2003, Swindells 1998), and therefore I have chosen to explore motivational interventions in an attempt to understand what practical steps can be undertaken to improve the effectiveness of such programmes.

The Limited Service Volunteers (LSV) programme aims to develop participants' motivation, confidence and skills in order to increase the number of young New Zealanders entering employment or further training. It was the original motivational intervention programme, beginning operation in 1993, providing a service to the Ministry of Social Development's unemployed clients. The programme is run by the New Zealand Defence Force, and involves a combination of outdoor adventure activities, physical training and various employment-related lessons, conducted within a military environment.

An evaluation of 85 LSV participants was conducted in October 2006 in order to uncover what outcomes participants perceive they gain from participation on the course and what course components are important factors to achieving these outcomes. Participant interviews were conducted at the end of the course, and again by phone interviews with 28 participants at six months post-course. Means-end theory was used to demonstrate the links between course activities (attributes) and the effects on the participants' values (outcomes). The results are visually presented through the use of hierarchical value maps.

This article first outlines motivational interventions in the New Zealand context. The means-end theory used to undertake this research is presented, followed by an explanation of the data collection procedures. The data are then presented, with a breakdown of the participants' demographics, followed by analysis of the data and presentation of the outcomes through graphical representation. The article concludes with a discussion of the significant findings and the implications from this research.

MOTIVATIONAL INTERVENTION

Motivational intervention programmes were developed by the Ministry of Social Development in response to the fact that the motivation of long-term unemployed to look for work decreases as the term of unemployment increases, as does their level of self-esteem and -confidence (Swindells 1998, Winefield 1995). There was also recognition that there is a need to rebuild the skills, morale and motivation of the long-term unemployed (Regier et al. 1984). Motivational intervention programmes aim to increase the confidence and skills of job seekers so as to improve their chances of finding work (Anderson 1998).

All job seekers registered with Work and Income are eligible to attend motivational intervention training, although there is a focus on the long-term unemployed (those out of work for 26 weeks or more), and job seekers that are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed (Ministry of Social Development 2001). The study presented here was conducted at LSV, and is part of a larger study of motivational intervention programmes conducted by the author as part of his PhD study.

This study was undertaken to increase our knowledge of what the students perceive they are gaining from participation in motivational intervention programmes. While there is much research on experiential education and adventure-based learning (Hattie et al., 1997, Luckner and Nadler 1997, Neill 1999), there has been limited research in the area of experiential education within the context of motivational intervention programmes for the unemployed. The research that is available provides a tenuous link between the two major providers of motivational intervention (LSV and Outward Bound) and its immediate outcomes, in terms of motivation and self-esteem (Swindells 1998) and employment outcomes (Johri et al. 2004). Hence, there is a need to address the gap in the research and to outline the processes of motivational intervention programmes for the unemployed.

Means-end theory was the method adopted to undertake this study, with the intention of connecting course components to outcomes; i.e. what specifically increases or decreases motivation, self-confidence, goal-setting, etc. Studying the outcomes from the components of the courses links the attribute to the consequence to the value. For example: rock climbing (attribute), leading to determination and perseverance (consequence), leading to an increase in self-confidence (value).

STUDY SETTING

The participants for this research study attended the October 2006 intake of Limited Service Volunteers (LSV), course number 02/07, at Burnham army camp, 40 km south of Christchurch, New Zealand. Participants are referred, and operational funding is provided by the Ministry of Social Development, with facilities and staffing by the New Zealand Defence Force, utilising the New Zealand Army protocol. LSV is the original provider of residential motivational training in New Zealand, with personnel drawn from the New Zealand Army, Navy and Air Force.

All participants entering the programme were unemployed and identified by their Work and Income case manager as in need of increasing their motivation in order to enhance their chances of entering employment or further training. Participants, who choose to attend LSV, do so strictly voluntarily.

At the base the participants underwent a rigorous six-week military/outdoor adventure-training programme. LSV participants are subject to military law, but no martial or combat training is provided. The participants reside on the base for the duration of the course. The LSV company is split into platoons one, two and three, with approximately equal numbers and a mix of male and female participants. Each platoon is further divided, when the need arises, into four sections, consisting of 8 to ten participants. Lessons are primarily conducted at the platoon level, but occasionally at the company or section level.

Following is a basic outline of the programme.

Weeks 1-2: Imposed discipline (dependence)

Military law and rights, barracks routine, drill, physical training, goal-setting, drug and alcohol awareness, first aid training, rock climbing, health awareness.

Weeks 3-4: Development of self and team (interdependence)

Introduction to the outdoor...

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