The experience of a retreat for adolescent boys : A case study in an Australian Anglican school

Prof Doc Thesis

Rixon, G. B.. (2022). The experience of a retreat for adolescent boys : A case study in an Australian Anglican school [Prof Doc Thesis]. Australian Catholic University
AuthorsRixon, G. B.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Education

Student retreats are not unfamiliar within education. Literature on retreat experiences acknowledges the important role that schools play in supporting social and character development, wellbeing, and the fostering of values. However, little is known of the extent to which the retreat aim and objectives are achieved. This case study qualitatively explored the effectiveness of the retreat experience through interviews with student retreatants and retreat teachers, together with the analysis of school documentation relevant to the retreat. Through a focus on documented purpose, planning and preparation, environmental considerations, program content, staffing; together with perceived value, and the depth of post-retreat follow-up and evaluation, the case study explored these criteria within the context of a Year 11 student retreat in an Australian Anglican school. The overall view of students and teachers recognised the influence of the retreat experience on students’ character-building, values, wellbeing, skill development, including social, and relationship skills, which they transferred back to school and into their personal life, and their overall outlook on life.

The discussion of findings enabled the generation of six themes integral to effectiveness. These included: Christian principles; values, morals, and ethics; character-building; wellbeing; retreat enablers; and retreat outcomes from which new understandings on the retreat phenomenon emerged.

Nine conclusions were drawn from the case study research. These contributed to new knowledge and underlined the retreat experience as an interdependent educational process central to the wider pastoral and character-building programs of the school. With this knowledge, it is anticipated that school leaders, both within the case study school, and more generally, will be better placed to assess what actions support the enhancement of the overall retreat effectiveness for student development within the mission, life, and culture of the school.

Keywordscharacter-building; retreat; reflection; spirituality ; wellbeing; values
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Page range1-346
Final version
File Access Level
Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online29 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
CompletedMay 2022
Deposited28 Nov 2022
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