A Closer Look at The Journal of Experiential Education

A Closer Look at The Journal of Experiential Education (JEE)

The Journal of Experiential Education (JEE) is an international, peer-reviewed journal publishing refereed articles on experiential education in diverse contexts. The JEE provides a forum for the empirical and theoretical study of issues concerning experiential learning, program management and policies, educational, developmental, and health outcomes, teaching and facilitation, and research methodology. 

 

 JEE is published by Sage Publications. For manuscript submission, permissions, reprints or subscriptions, visit the JEE page on the Sage Publications web site.

 An interview with JEE Editor, Jayson Seaman

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Jayson Seaman
JEE Editor, University of New Hampshire


Jayson Seaman is an Associate Professor in the Kinesiology Department at the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on the historical foundations of outdoor education, youth development in non-formal educational settings, and qualitative research methodology. He lives with his family in Durham New Hampshire and enjoys whitewater paddling, skiing, and triathlon.
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Let's start by learning more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your personal and professional connections to Experiential Education?

I grew up going to summer camp and hiking/camping with my family, so I suppose one way to answer this question is to say I have always been connected to experiential education. I went to college to become an English teacher and while there read Dewey’s Experience and Education on my own. It was like Dewey was in my head, bringing to life thoughts I didn’t have a language for – I really connected with that book (which I have since realized I was profoundly misreading). 

I got my first job teaching English and organizing outdoor and community service learning programs at a public high school, which ultimately became the focus of my position. I was fortunate to be doing this during the 1990s, when there was a lot of buzz around (and money for) service learning through the Corporation for National Service. I left my school in 1997 to pursue a masters degree in outdoor education, and after that I led New Hampshire’s state office for service learning in the Department of Education. This got me involved with experiential education at the local, state, and national levels, which was very exciting, but also very frustrating to a 28-year old person with a lot of energy and strong ideas about school reform.

After moving back to a local school district (doing adventure- and place-based programs in addition to service learning), I decided I had more questions than answers about how experiential education worked and so went back to grad school for a PhD. There I fell in love with research and saw the importance of digging into the foundations of experiential education. I’ve been doing this ever since.

 

How did you get involved with AEE?

I attended my first AEE conference in 1995 in Nova Scotia. It was a long drive even from New Hampshire and my memory of the conference is clouded by the fact that my head gasket blew in my car on the way home, which made for a really challenging trip. But it got me connected to AEE and I started presenting workshops mostly on service learning around that time. One of the things I value most about AEE is the new opportunities that have opened within the association as my interests and professional roles have changed. It is an association that grows with you – and of course it has been a good way to stay connected to some of my closest friends and colleagues.

 

As the Editor of JEE, can you tell us a bit about the history of the Journal?

My history with the journal starts in the late 1990s when I was doing my masters degree. It had been around for over two decades at that point, but it still had a very “home-grown” feel in that era, mostly because of the large, magazine-style formatting. Up to that time, it was common to see a combination of essays, program descriptions and practical recommendations, and some research studies. From the very beginning, it shows a community with strong commitments to educational and social reform, one that also isn’t afraid to be self-critical. There are some very passionate debates in the early issues that I encourage people to explore – some of them are still relevant today.

 

How would you describe the mission of the Journal?

I won’t repeat what we say on the JEE website here, but instead will provide my take on it. First and foremost I think the JEE’s mission is to promote the exchange of ideas about experiential education in all senses of the term and in a variety of contexts. I’ve tried my best to follow my predecessors in keeping a spirit of open inquiry that embraces a range of perspectives and topics. One indication of this is that we regularly publish the tables of contents for our “sister” journals, and they publish ours.

 

Can you tell us about the selection process for published articles?

It is fairly standard; someone submits a manuscript at our website (see here), I read it to make sure it meets our formatting requirements, then either invite potential reviewers or hand off the manuscript to one of our (amazing) associate editors who does it. We get the reviews back and either reject it, recommend some revisions and ask for a resubmission, or accept it with or without minor revisions. The reviewers – who are volunteers – are always people with expertise in the relevant content area. This process can take weeks to months depending on the extent of the revisions. Right now we publish around one-third of the manuscripts we receive.

 

How have you seen the Journal change over the years and what are your hopes for the future of the Journal?

I’ve seen three major changes in the JEE since I started interacting with it in the 1990s. The first is the format. It is now a smaller size and is typeset more like a standard academic journal. Its folksiness is gone, which is something of a loss, but its modernization also has broadened its appeal and reach. The second change is the partnership with SAGE publishers. Before SAGE began publishing the JEE, AEE did it. I can’t imagine the work that went into editing and publishing the JEE. I have the tremendous benefit of having taken over the editorship when I did. Hats off to the prior editors. Finally, the SAGE partnership has also helped the JEE reach a much wider audience which has introduced it to the Web of Science. This is the premier network of academic journals and we’re now a part of it. There is an extensive process behind this that I won’t get into, but it is critical if the JEE wants to attract high-quality manuscripts from scholars around the world. This will continue to drive the JEE to publish more research that is relevant to diverse audiences.

My hope for the future of the JEE is to stay on its current course of being widely known as the leading outlet for top scholarship on experiential education. At the same time, it is also essential to be true to its roots and continue to embrace diversity and debate within the field, and to expand to include a wider geographical array of voices and perspectives. 

 

Why is the Journal an important resource for those in the Experiential field?

The JEE has an important role to play in the landscape of journal options since it welcomes a range of expressions of experiential education, from study abroad and adventure programming to service learning and other specific pedagogical strategies. But this is also one of its challenges – how to stay centered on a core set of concepts with so many evolving variations in practice, theory, and research methods.

As the journal moves in a more formal, research-oriented direction, it is also harder to maintain rich connections to practice. I don’t have any say over the questions researchers pursue or what manuscripts people choose to submit, so it isn’t like the JEE can respond nimbly to practitioner needs. This is a real difficulty and a responsibility the whole community is going to have to take on. But I’d argue it is very important for practitioners to have their thinking stretched (and supported!) by the current research, and for researchers to continually emphasize the practical importance of their work.

 


 

The Journal welcomes submissions from established and emerging scholars writing about experiential education in the context of outdoor adventure programming, service learning, environmental education, classroom instruction, mental and behavioral health, organizational settings, the creative arts, international travel, community programs, or others.

If you have a question about the suitability of a manuscript, please contact the Editor in Chief Jayson Seaman [[email protected]]. For preliminary article inquiries send a short (<200 word) description of the paper concept or outline of the research.


AEE Members: To access JEE online for free, login to the AEE Member Website and follow the detailed instructions provided within the Resource Library. The Resource Library can be accessed directly from your member profile OR in the Membership tab dropdown. If you have questions, please email [email protected]

 

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