Date of Award

Fall 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jayson Seaman


Adventure education organizations use co-instruction as the dominant mode of staffing programs, largely for issues related to risk mitigation. Despite, or perhaps because of, the everyday nature of this common staffing arrangement, little attention has been paid to it. Moreover, a review of relevant literature on co-leadership from the human services, traditional education, and adventure education fields revealed little clear consensus regarding the nature of the co-instruction experience. This phenomenological study inquired into the experience of co-instructors through in-depth qualitative interviews, which were transcribed and inductively analyzed for emergent themes. Co-instructing, at its essence, emerged as a negotiated relationship between co-instructors that shaped their professional, social, and personal success while in the field. In this thesis, I elaborate the central themes of living work, the dilemma of the super-instructor, and sizing up, and I discuss the meaning of co-instruction in people's lives. I conclude by sharing several practical implications resulting from the study, including new ways of approaching staff training in adventure education. Future research might fruitfully examine the meaning of itinerant work in young people's lives, especially in intense environments such as wilderness co-instruction.