It is difficult to provide disengaged youth, who are at risk of not fulfilling their potential, with the social support necessary to remain active contributors to society. They are more likely to fail and drop from education greatly reducing the prospect of becoming constructive, productive community members. Consequently strategies to promote engagement with learning and education need to be investigated. This study explores the impact on an individual’s self-concept and social networking skills through participation in an experiential learning program at sea conducted in Australia’s national sail training ship STS Young Endeavour and how this may influence student engagement with learning and education.
Using qualitative interviews, engagement with learning and education of five participants from different educational backgrounds was examined pre and post voyage. The results suggest participation in the Young Endeavour program had a positive effect on development of social relationships, general self-concept, motivation to study, and sense of purpose for learning. Key contributing factors appear to be experiential learning activities specifically designed to support the development of greater self-concept and social skills such as climbing aloft, working together as a ‘watch’ and taking control of the vessel.