Title page for ETD etd-050799-165125

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bednarczyk, Karen M.
URN etd-050799-165125
Title The Virginia Military Institute Rat Challenge Evaluation
Degree Master of Arts
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Creamer, Donald G. Committee Chair
Cantrell, Nicki Committee Member
Janosik, Steven M. Committee Member
  • student development
  • leadership
  • physical training
Date of Defense 1999-04-13
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Rat Challenge program. The Rat Challenge is designed to foster self-confidence and physical conditioning in Fourth Classmen by creating training situations which are stressful enough to show them they are capable of doing tasks which surpass their previously self-imposed mental and physical limits. The program is designed to provide leadership development opportunities for the cadre. It places the responsibility on the cadets for leading and teaching the Fourth Classmen as they advance through the exercises and participate in activities which have calculated elements of risk that make safety paramount.

In designing the Rat Challenge, VMI has named 10 goals and objectives of each Challenge Station. They are: improve physical condition, help conquer fears, improve relations with cadre, improve self-esteem, help build team spirit, improve ability to resolve conflict, improve sensitivity to differences in ability, develop problem solving skills, and have fun.

The physical education department has not assessed these goals and objectives after completion of the program. Two research questions were asked. What level of achievement was reached by participating VMI cadets by Rat Challenge station? What differences by group(gender, class standing, VMI legacy, siblings at VMI, participation in intramural activities, participation in organized sports, prior military experience, parental prior military experience, parents presently in the military) were observed?

The survey population included the Rats and cadre involved in the Rat Challenge at VMI. A two-part, paper and pencil, self-report questionnaire was utilized. Respondents were asked to respond using a Likert-type scale. An open-ended response section followed. Respondents were asked to write any additional comments regarding each Challenge Station. Significant differences in means were found in 6 out of 10 objectives and 9 out of 21 stations.

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