The Learning Benefits of Educational Field Trips
- The wheels on the bus.school bus image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
There are many learning benefits to educational field trips. Field trips have certainly come a long way, as many museums have hands-on approaches, educational professionals are specifically hired to teach at prime field trip locations, and there are many grants available for class trips.
- Hands-on experiences are key to learning strategies. No matter how great the teacher or how impacting the lesson, when students are able to be in the presence of knowledge, it exponentially increases retention. Whether walking through living history, playing with science, seeing mathematics in action or watching a live musical performance, each individual experience has a lasting affect. Educators should prepare students before the field trip so that they are ready for the new experience. This can include lessons that lead up to a culminating project focused around the trip, or the trip can act as a unit summary.
- One of the greatest chain reactions that comes out of field trips are the ideas created based on the students' experience. Students become inspired. Some will be exposed to potential careers or learn about something completely foreign to them that expands their horizons. Some students will stumble across a new hobby or be challenged to rethink the way in which they see the world. All of these ideas are incredibly important to their learning process. While these moments may also occur in certain classrooms, nothing can compare to the effect of seeing it live, right there in front of them. It adds a sense of realism and attainability to their thoughts and their goals.
Ideas for field trips can come directly from unit plans or they can be connections made through content areas. For example, if students are studying world music and spend a month on Native American music, a field trip to a Native American Indian reservation will reinforce the lessons as well as build curiosities for further inquiry.
- Students lose knowledge as soon as they exit a classroom. Depending on the study, scholars say students will forget anywhere from 25% to 75% of the lesson by the next school day. Simple reinforcement tools can be added to lessons to decrease these numbers, but a much better way of guaranteeing retention is through an educational field trip. Though not every field trip is a life-changing event, these trips certainly have the potential to become lifelong memories. Once a student has that hands-on experience or first-hand discussion with a living and breathing person who is no longer merely in a textbook, the previously interested student will become the student who takes away the event permanently in her mind.