We can all probably remember a pivotal field trip (s) from our elementary years. For me it was seeing King Tut at the ROM. It spurred an interest in science and opened my mind to the word of archeology.
In my sons school one teacher had a reputation for doing field trips weekly. Wearing down the cadre of parent volunteers and fostering an attitude “does she do any teaching??”
It got me curious about the actual benefits of field trips. A lot of the research centers around museum attendance and the public school systems; the “traditional” field trip.
In the article The Educational Value of Field Trips the author highlights that despite the decline in school tours the expense and disruption are worth it. The appreciation gained for arts and culture rounds out the students learning. In particular their study found significant increases in the areas of:
- critical thinking
- historical empathy
- interest in museums
It underscores for me the impact the power of observation can have on learning in general and how much more effective this can be outside the traditional classroom. The article also highlights an interesting discrepancy on the results with disadvantaged students being more profound.
The author suggest as well that there has been a shift in the type of fields trips taken with a shift from those based on “enrichment” to being founded on “reward”. In our schools today I can see how this could be possible when the trips are not structured around course content and a defined learning outcome. That said, I do believe that a simple change in environment can foster learning. For example: a trip to downtown Vancouver on the Seabus in and of itself is full of learning opportunities for someone not familiar with transit.
Thinking of conducting a field trip for your students. My classmate Troy has shared a video detailing the steps, pros and cons: The Case for Field Trips
PS – During my recent stint as a Scout leader I became aware of a wonderful resource for researching and organizing field trips; Field Trip Factory . While geared towards youth it can serve as a great resource for ideas and trips that perhaps you didn’t know even were available.