Field trips offer students the opportunity to apply classroom instruction in a real-world, firsthand environment. Often field trips are geared towards history or art and other areas, such as math, are overlooked. Algebra teachers, how many times have you heard “When will I ever use this?” from your students with reference to why learning algebra is important?
Why, then, have field trips been on the decline? Paperwork, lack of resources, including manpower, and safety concerns are just a few of the top reasons. Of course, App-Garden’s Travel Tracker eliminates the top three reasons and allows teachers and school districts to focus on the more important details such as providing the benefit of field trips to students.
If you find yourself in a position to persuade your school administration or district to approve a field trip, below are five significant ways in which field trips benefit students, enhance the learning experience, and improve overall cognition:
The International Journal of Environmental & Science Education published an article in 2014 regarding to the educational value of field trips. In support of implementing field trips in the educational space, the authors elaborated on how experiential learning goes beyond simply connecting the classroom teaching to the experience. For science classes in particular, students’ observation, social, and cognitive skills increased and improved. Students were engaged and interacted with more motivation with teachers while working together with fellow students to “share perceptions and knowledge.” (Behrendt & Franklin, 2014). Ultimately, students were noted to have better observation skills by identifying pieces of information otherwise overlooked, improved social skills through interactions and discussion of their observations, and enhanced cognitive skills from connecting their education to a firsthand experience.
When the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Northwest Arkansas, researchers and educators were anxious to assess the impact to education in the local area. (Green, et al., 2014) As the first art museum to open in four decades, it offered free admission and was immediately in high demand for school tours. Research indicated students who toured the museum were able to recall a significant amount of factual information even weeks after the tour, solidifying a cognitive benefit for students by enjoying field trips.
In a test-focused environment, at-risk or academically challenged students often exhibit low-performance and may struggle with cognition and learning. Many of these students perform better when placed in a more clinical or hands-on environment, as a result, at-risk or academically challenged students tend to improve from an educational standpoint on field trips. Field trips offer these students the “unique opportunity…to create connections, which will help them gain understanding and develop an enjoyment of learning.” (Behrendt & Franklin, 2014).
In addition to retention, students who toured the Crystal Bridges museum had an increase in critical-thinking skills with emphasis on observing, interpreting, evaluating, associating, problem finding, comparing and flexible thinking. Students were asked to write essays answering two questions relative to a topic before and after visiting the museum. Researchers observed a statistically significant increase in critical thinking skills when comparing pre-field trip essays of the students to post-field trip essays. The increase was attributed to the students’ exposure to observation and encouraged attention to detail during the museum tour, as well as tour guide and teacher interaction.
As students explore other cultures and history during field trips, there is a connection between this experiential education and an increase in cultural appreciation among students. When educators can connect the classroom teaching to the field trip, the cultural appreciation is even further strengthened. Field trips offer teachers an opportunity to present students with alternate perspectives which lends itself to cultural appreciation and tolerance.
Regardless of your teaching discipline, the evidence is clear: field trips offer students benefits outside of classroom learning and can even give your students an educational advantage. While field trips require significant effort from educators to coordinate and plan, App-Garden’s Travel Tracker reduces the workload and allows you focus on providing your students with a unique field trip experience rather than the rigorous hurdles to clear before getting there. If you find yourself facing doubtful administrators, contact App-Garden. Not only can we demonstrate the value and benefits of field trips, we can also assist with making the planning process effortless.