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The ultimate guide to planning a school trip

Why Are School Trips So Important

article on importance of school trips

So many students have missed out on school trips this year as they’ve been cancelled due to the pandemic. But how much does it really matter? After all, aren’t school trips a bit of a jolly? More of a ‘nice to have’ than an essential part of the school experience?

In short, no.

Created by teachers for teachers , we know the importance of school trips for students from first-hand experience.

From the strictly academic benefits of school trips to the advantages of school trips for personal development, we believe passionately that school trips are an essential part of the school experience for students .

They provide practical memories and experiences to recall in exams

One great advantage of school trips is that they provide students with practical memories and experiences of the subject. These are much easier to recall in exam halls than revision notes and passages in textbooks.

Plus, school trips give students the chance to deepen their understanding of the subject, allowing for much richer, better considered responses to exam questions.

And students recognise this benefit of school trips themselves – according to the Evaluation of Learning Away Final Report, 2015 , 66% of secondary students thought they were better at problem solving and would do better at their exams after taking a school trip.

They offer real-world experience of the subject

Another great benefit of school trips is that they give your students an experience of the importance of your subject in the ‘real world’.

But why is that important? Well, we’ve all had to contend with the argument from less than keen students that they’re never going to need this subject or topic in the future.

Your school trip is your golden opportunity to prove them wrong.

And, by showing them how useful your subject is in the ‘real world’, you may even spark an interest that wasn’t evident before. For some, you may even give them ideas for future careers they never would have considered.

They improve the classroom environment

When thinking about the importance of school trips, we tend to focus on how the trip directly affects students’ education – i.e. deepening their understanding of the subject, giving them real experience of the subject and providing them with practical memories to draw upon in the exam hall.

But did you know that taking students outside of the classroom environment can do wonders for said classroom environment?

Your shared experiences and the opportunity to have fun together will only improve your student teacher relationship. This can help improve behaviour and engagement back in the classroom. It can also make it easier for students to talk to you if they need to.

And the students will have the opportunity to get to know their peers better, particularly those outside of their usual friendship circles. This can help them all to feel more comfortable in class, which in turn could see higher engagement and more contributions from even the most reticent of students.

They build confidence and develop independence

This is another often ignored but hugely important benefit of school trips.

According to the Evaluation of Learning Away Final Report, 2015, 87% of secondary students felt more confident to try new things they would not have done before their trip.

What a gift to give your students! The confidence to try new things and broaden their horizons will open up so many incredible opportunities for your students.

On top of this, for many your school trip might well be their first time travelling abroad without their families.

Although they will, of course, be fully supported by yourself and the other staff on the trip, they will still have to take responsibility for themselves, making sure they are up and ready on time every day, taking care of their property and making sure they behave in a responsible way so that they and everyone around them is safe.

Your school trip won’t just be of educational benefit from an academic point of view, it will also help your students as they grow up and learn to become independent, confident young adults.

And they inspire

In the summer of 2017, we sent a survey out to all our customers, to find out what more we could do to support teachers running school trips. We asked what your main goals were as a teacher and many of you used the word ‘inspire’ in your replies.

And that is exactly what school trips are for. You’ll inspire them to do the best they can in their exams, by giving them real, practical experiences and memories to draw upon. You’ll inspire them to discover the value of your subject in the ‘real world’ and you could even help to unlock their future career.

You’ll also inspire them to develop those crucial life skills, such as independence, intercultural understanding and tolerance. And you’ll inspire them to be more confident in themselves and in their interactions with other people, whether that’s familiar people like you and their classmates, or new people they meet throughout their lives.

So, don’t give up on school trips!

Secure your next school trip now for a reduced deposit and benefit from free cancellation or postponement should the situation mean you aren’t able to travel.

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Benefits of school trips, why are they important?

Educational tours and school trips abroad can help students develop both on an academic and personal level. Today we share our thoughts on the main benefits of school trips abroad for your students and children:

benefits of school trips travel newsletter JWT Sports

1-Reinforcing lessons and expanding knowledge

As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

‘Doing’, or putting into action or practice lessons learnt in the classroom, helps students remember and understand them better.

Applying practice to the theory not only reinforces those lessons but expands their knowledge on the subject, giving it a different more tangible dimension.

This is applicable to all subjects, from history to art but it is particularly evident when studying languages. The excitement of using those language skills in the real world will help students see the real purpose of learning them in the first place.

2-Encouraging and discovering new interests

As humans and students our brain gets excited by different things, topics and teaching methods. School trips can be a powerful motivation tool, encouraging further learning on a particular subject or sparking their interest in new ones.

School trips abroad and indeed local school tours can inspire students. Kids who might not be particularly interested in team sports for instance, might discover they enjoy skiing, hiking or even find a new sporting passion.

3-Experiencing different cultures

Education is not only about growing intellectually or achieving results but also preparing youngsters to be responsible citizens. Experiencing different cultures teaches them valuable lessons they will carry with them into adulthood.

On school trips abroad, they get exposed to different cultures, traditions, food, languages and ways to see the world; encouraging understanding, appreciation for other nationalities and diversity. This is without a doubt one of the most important benefits of school trips abroad for all students.

4-Bonding with classmates and teachers

School trips also have an important social aspect, as they facilitate team building and bonding between classmates. Often new friendships are developed during school trips, as students from different groups might interact and mix.

They can also give teachers an opportunity to know their students better, their interests and personalities, in a more informal context and relaxed environment; and gain their trust.

5-Personal development and confidence building

Many students get their first taste of relative freedom or independence during school trips. This is an important rite of passage and has a positive impact on their personal development, building their confidence as they are taken out of their home environment and comfort zone.

For instance they will learn to manage their own time and find their way around a new city, if the trip includes free time to explore; they will be in charge of their personal budget for the duration of the trip and they can even be encouraged to organise a saving plan at home to take responsibility for their own school trip costs.

These valuable learning experiences can’t be recreated in a classroom environment or learned from textbooks.

6- Positive memories

Many of us remember our favourite school tour, whether it was a visit to a local museum or our first time saying a few words in a different language abroad. Many of our best school memories are created during school trips with peers.

As teachers and parents have told our travel team over the years, some of the benefits of school trips will last a lifetime.

Find some ideas for your school trips on our page: TOP 10 DESTINATIONS FOR SCHOOL TRIPS

We hope you enjoyed our article on the main benefits of school trips abroad, for destination ideas and travel advice for your school group, contact our knowledgeable travel experts at JWT Schools.

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The Journal

article on importance of school trips

Latest Issue

Winter 2023.

Vol. 23, No. 1

The Educational Value of Field Trips

Taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more

article on importance of school trips

Jay P. Greene

article on importance of school trips

Brian Kisida

article on importance of school trips

Daniel H. Bowen

Jay P. Greene joined EdNext Editor-in-chief Marty West to discuss the benefits of field trips, including how seeing live theater is a more enriching experience to students, on the EdNext podcast .


Crystal Bridges; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; School Tour © 2013 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography Bo Bartlett – “The Box” –  2002 • Oil on Linen • 82 x 100 – Photographer is Karen Mauch

The school field trip has a long history in American public education. For decades, students have piled into yellow buses to visit a variety of cultural institutions, including art, natural history, and science museums, as well as theaters, zoos, and historical sites. Schools gladly endured the expense and disruption of providing field trips because they saw these experiences as central to their educational mission: schools exist not only to provide economically useful skills in numeracy and literacy, but also to produce civilized young men and women who would appreciate the arts and culture. More-advantaged families may take their children to these cultural institutions outside of school hours, but less-advantaged students are less likely to have these experiences if schools do not provide them. With field trips, public schools viewed themselves as the great equalizer in terms of access to our cultural heritage.

Today, culturally enriching field trips are in decline. Museums across the country report a steep drop in school tours. For example, the Field Museum in Chicago at one time welcomed more than 300,000 students every year. Recently the number is below 200,000. Between 2002 and 2007, Cincinnati arts organizations saw a 30 percent decrease in student attendance. A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.

The decision to reduce culturally enriching field trips reflects a variety of factors. Financial pressures force schools to make difficult decisions about how to allocate scarce resources, and field trips are increasingly seen as an unnecessary frill. Greater focus on raising student performance on math and reading standardized tests may also lead schools to cut field trips. Some schools believe that student time would be better spent in the classroom preparing for the exams. When schools do organize field trips, they are increasingly choosing to take students on trips to reward them for working hard to improve their test scores rather than to provide cultural enrichment. Schools take students to amusement parks, sporting events, and movie theaters instead of to museums and historical sites. This shift from “enrichment” to “reward” field trips is reflected in a generational change among teachers about the purposes of these outings. In a 2012‒13 survey we conducted of nearly 500 Arkansas teachers, those who had been teaching for at least 15 years were significantly more likely to believe that the primary purpose of a field trip is to provide a learning opportunity, while more junior teachers were more likely to see the primary purpose as “enjoyment.”

If schools are de-emphasizing culturally enriching field trips, has anything been lost as a result? Surprisingly, we have relatively little rigorous evidence about how field trips affect students. The research presented here is the first large-scale randomized-control trial designed to measure what students learn from school tours of an art museum.

We find that students learn quite a lot. In particular, enriching field trips contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women who possess more knowledge about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.

Design of the Study and School Tours

The 2011 opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Northwest Arkansas created the opportunity for this study. Crystal Bridges is the first major art museum to be built in the United States in the last four decades, with more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space and an endowment in excess of $800 million. Portions of the museum’s endowment are devoted to covering all of the expenses associated with school tours. Crystal Bridges reimburses schools for the cost of buses, provides free admission and lunch, and even pays for the cost of substitute teachers to cover for teachers who accompany students on the tour.

Because the tour is completely free to schools, and because Crystal Bridges was built in an area that never previously had an art museum, there was high demand for school tours. Not all school groups could be accommodated right away. So our research team worked with the staff at Crystal Bridges to assign spots for school tours by lottery. During the first two semesters of the school tour program, the museum received 525 applications from school groups representing 38,347 students in kindergarten through grade 12. We created matched pairs among the applicant groups based on similarity in grade level and other demographic factors. An ideal and common matched pair would be adjacent grades in the same school. We then randomly ordered the matched pairs to determine scheduling prioritization. Within each pair, we randomly assigned which applicant would be in the treatment group and receive a tour that semester and which would be in the control group and have its tour deferred.

We administered surveys to 10,912 students and 489 teachers at 123 different schools three weeks, on average, after the treatment group received its tour. The student surveys included multiple items assessing knowledge about art as well as measures of critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and sustained interest in visiting art museums. Some groups were surveyed as late as eight weeks after the tour, but it was not possible to collect data after longer periods because each control group was guaranteed a tour during the following semester as a reward for its cooperation. There is no indication that the results reported below faded for groups surveyed after longer periods.

We also assessed students’ critical-thinking skills by asking them to write a short essay in response to a painting that they had not previously seen. Finally, we collected a behavioral measure of interest in art consumption by providing all students with a coded coupon good for free family admission to a special exhibit at the museum to see whether the field trip increased the likelihood of students making future visits.

All results reported below are derived from regression models that control for student grade level and gender and make comparisons within each matched pair, while taking into account the fact that students in the matched pair of applicant groups are likely to be similar in ways that we are unable to observe. Standard validity tests confirmed that the survey items employed to generate the various scales used as outcomes measured the same underlying constructs.

The intervention we studied is a modest one. Students received a one-hour tour of the museum in which they typically viewed and discussed five paintings. Some students were free to roam the museum following their formal tour, but the entire experience usually involved less than half a day. Instructional materials were sent to teachers who went on a tour, but our survey of teachers suggests that these materials received relatively little attention, on average no more than an hour of total class time. The discussion of each painting during the tour was largely student-directed, with the museum educators facilitating the discourse and providing commentary beyond the names of the work and the artist and a brief description only when students requested it. This format is now the norm in school tours of art museums. The aversion to having museum educators provide information about works of art is motivated in part by progressive education theories and by a conviction among many in museum education that students retain very little factual information from their tours.

Recalling Tour Details. Our research suggests that students actually retain a great deal of factual information from their tours. Students who received a tour of the museum were able to recall details about the paintings they had seen at very high rates. For example, 88 percent of the students who saw the Eastman Johnson painting At the Camp—Spinning Yarns and Whittling knew when surveyed weeks later that the painting depicts abolitionists making maple syrup to undermine the sugar industry, which relied on slave labor. Similarly, 82 percent of those who saw Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter could recall that the painting emphasizes the importance of women entering the workforce during World War II. Among students who saw Thomas Hart Benton’s Ploughing It Under , 79 percent recollected that it is a depiction of a farmer destroying his crops as part of a Depression-era price support program. And 70 percent of the students who saw Romare Bearden’s Sacrifice could remember that it is part of the Harlem Renaissance art movement. Since there was no guarantee that these facts would be raised in student-directed discussions, and because students had no particular reason for remembering these details (there was no test or grade associated with the tours), it is impressive that they could recall historical and sociological information at such high rates.

These results suggest that art could be an important tool for effectively conveying traditional academic content, but this analysis cannot prove it. The control-group performance was hardly better than chance in identifying factual information about these paintings, but they never had the opportunity to learn the material. The high rate of recall of factual information by students who toured the museum demonstrates that the tours made an impression. The students could remember important details about what they saw and discussed.

Critical Thinking. Beyond recalling the details of their tour, did a visit to an art museum have a significant effect on students? Our study demonstrates that it did. For example, students randomly assigned to receive a school tour of Crystal Bridges later displayed demonstrably stronger ability to think critically about art than the control group.

During the first semester of the study, we showed all 3rd- through 12th-grade students a painting they had not previously seen, Bo Bartlett’s The Box . We then asked students to write short essays in response to two questions: What do you think is going on in this painting? And, what do you see that makes you think that? These are standard prompts used by museum educators to spark discussion during school tours.

We stripped the essays of all identifying information and had two coders rate the compositions using a seven-item rubric for measuring critical thinking that was developed by researchers at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The measure is based on the number of instances that students engaged in the following in their essays: observing, interpreting, evaluating, associating, problem finding, comparing, and flexible thinking. Our measure of critical thinking is the sum of the counts of these seven items. In total, our research team blindly scored 3,811 essays. For 750 of those essays, two researchers scored them independently. The scores they assigned to the same essay were very similar, demonstrating that we were able to measure critical thinking about art with a high degree of inter-coder reliability.

We express the impact of a school tour of Crystal Bridges on critical-thinking skills in terms of standard-deviation effect sizes. Overall, we find that students assigned by lottery to a tour of the museum improve their ability to think critically about art by 9 percent of a standard deviation relative to the control group. The benefit for disadvantaged groups is considerably larger (see Figure 1). Rural students, who live in towns with fewer than 10,000 people, experience an increase in critical-thinking skills of nearly one-third of a standard deviation. Students from high-poverty schools (those where more than 50 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches) experience an 18 percent effect-size improvement in critical thinking about art, as do minority students.

A large amount of the gain in critical-thinking skills stems from an increase in the number of observations that students made in their essays. Students who went on a tour became more observant, noticing and describing more details in an image. Being observant and paying attention to detail is an important and highly useful skill that students learn when they study and discuss works of art. Additional research is required to determine if the gains in critical thinking when analyzing a work of art would transfer into improved critical thinking about other, non-art-related subjects.

Historical Empathy. Tours of art museums also affect students’ values. Visiting an art museum exposes students to a diversity of ideas, peoples, places, and time periods. That broadening experience imparts greater appreciation and understanding. We see the effects in significantly higher historical empathy and tolerance measures among students randomly assigned to a school tour of Crystal Bridges.

Historical empathy is the ability to understand and appreciate what life was like for people who lived in a different time and place. This is a central purpose of teaching history, as it provides students with a clearer perspective about their own time and place. To measure historical empathy, we included three statements on the survey with which students could express their level of agreement or disagreement: 1) I have a good understanding of how early Americans thought and felt; 2) I can imagine what life was like for people 100 years ago; and 3) When looking at a painting that shows people, I try to imagine what those people are thinking. We combined these items into a scale measuring historical empathy.

Students who went on a tour of Crystal Bridges experience a 6 percent of a standard deviation increase in historical empathy. Among rural students, the benefit is much larger, a 15 percent of a standard deviation gain. We can illustrate this benefit by focusing on one of the items in the historical empathy scale. When asked to agree or disagree with the statement, “I have a good understanding of how early Americans thought and felt,” 70 percent of the treatment-group students express agreement compared to 66 percent of the control group. Among rural participants, 69 percent of the treatment-group students agree with this statement compared to 62 percent of the control group. The fact that Crystal Bridges features art from different periods in American history may have helped produce these gains in historical empathy.

Tolerance. To measure tolerance we included four statements on the survey to which students could express their level of agreement or disagreement: 1) People who disagree with my point of view bother me; 2) Artists whose work is critical of America should not be allowed to have their work shown in art museums; 3) I appreciate hearing views different from my own; and 4) I think people can have different opinions about the same thing. We combined these items into a scale measuring the general effect of the tour on tolerance.

Overall, receiving a school tour of an art museum increases student tolerance by 7 percent of a standard deviation. As with critical thinking, the benefits are much larger for students in disadvantaged groups. Rural students who visited Crystal Bridges experience a 13 percent of a standard deviation improvement in tolerance. For students at high-poverty schools, the benefit is 9 percent of a standard deviation.

The improvement in tolerance for students who went on a tour of Crystal Bridges can be illustrated by the responses to one of the items within the tolerance scale. When asked about the statement, “Artists whose work is critical of America should not be allowed to have their work shown in art museums,” 35 percent of the control-group students express agreement. But for students randomly assigned to receive a school tour of the art museum, only 32 percent agree with censoring art critical of America. Among rural students, 34 percent of the control group would censor art compared to 30 percent for the treatment group. In high-poverty schools, 37 percent of the control-group students would censor compared to 32 percent of the treatment-group students. These differences are not huge, but neither is the intervention. These changes represent the realistic improvement in tolerance that results from a half-day experience at an art museum.

Interest in Art Museums. Perhaps the most important outcome of a school tour is whether it cultivates an interest among students in returning to cultural institutions in the future. If visiting a museum helps improve critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and other outcomes not measured in this study, then those benefits would compound for students if they were more likely to frequent similar cultural institutions throughout their life. The direct effects of a single visit are necessarily modest and may not persist, but if school tours help students become regular museum visitors, they may enjoy a lifetime of enhanced critical thinking, tolerance, and historical empathy.

We measured how school tours of Crystal Bridges develop in students an interest in visiting art museums in two ways: with survey items and a behavioral measure. We included a series of items in the survey designed to gauge student interest:

• I plan to visit art museums when I am an adult.

• I would tell my friends they should visit an art museum.

• Trips to art museums are interesting.

• Trips to art museums are fun.

• Would your friend like to go to an art museum on a field trip?

• Would you like more museums in your community?

• How interested are you in visiting art museums?

• If your friends or family wanted to go to an art museum, how interested would you be in going?

Interest in visiting art museums among students who toured the museum is 8 percent of a standard deviation higher than that in the randomized control group. Among rural students, the increase is much larger: 22 percent of a standard deviation. Students at high-poverty schools score 11 percent of a standard deviation higher on the cultural consumer scale if they were randomly assigned to tour the museum. And minority students gain 10 percent of a standard deviation in their desire to be art consumers.

One of the eight items in the art consumer scale asked students to express the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I would tell my friends they should visit an art museum.” For all students who received a tour, 70 percent agree with this statement, compared to 66 percent in the control group. Among rural participants, 73 percent of the treatment-group students agree versus 63 percent of the control group. In high-poverty schools, 74 percent would recommend art museums to their friends compared to 68 percent of the control group. And among minority students, 72 percent of those who received a tour would tell their friends to visit an art museum, relative to 67 percent of the control group. Students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are more likely to have positive feelings about visiting museums if they receive a school tour.

We also measured whether students are more likely to visit Crystal Bridges in the future if they received a school tour. All students who participated in the study during the first semester, including those who did not receive a tour, were provided with a coupon that gave them and their families free entry to a special exhibit at Crystal Bridges. The coupons were coded so that we could determine the applicant group to which students belonged. Students had as long as six months after receipt of the coupon to use it.

We collected all redeemed coupons and were able to calculate how many adults and youths were admitted. Though students in the treatment group received 49 percent of all coupons that were distributed, 58 percent of the people admitted to the special exhibit with those coupons came from the treatment group. In other words, the families of students who received a tour were 18 percent more likely to return to the museum than we would expect if their rate of coupon use was the same as their share of distributed coupons.

This is particularly impressive given that the treatment-group students had recently visited the museum. Their desire to visit a museum might have been satiated, while the control group might have been curious to visit Crystal Bridges for the first time. Despite having recently been to the museum, students who received a school tour came back at higher rates. Receiving a school tour cultivates a taste for visiting art museums, and perhaps for sharing the experience with others.

Disadvantaged Students

One consistent pattern in our results is that the benefits of a school tour are generally much larger for students from less-advantaged backgrounds. Students from rural areas and high-poverty schools, as well as minority students, typically show gains that are two to three times larger than those of the total sample. Disadvantaged students assigned by lottery to receive a school tour of an art museum make exceptionally large gains in critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and becoming art consumers.

It appears that the less prior exposure to culturally enriching experiences students have, the larger the benefit of receiving a school tour of a museum. We have some direct measures to support this explanation. To isolate the effect of the first time visiting the museum, we truncated our sample to include only control-group students who had never visited Crystal Bridges and treatment-group students who had visited for the first time during their tour. The effect for this first visit is roughly twice as large as that for the overall sample, just as it is for disadvantaged students.

In addition, we administered a different version of our survey to students in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Very young students are less likely to have had previous exposure to culturally enriching experiences. Very young students make exceptionally large improvements in the observed outcomes, just like disadvantaged students and first-time visitors.

When we examine effects for subgroups of advantaged students, we typically find much smaller or null effects. Students from large towns and low-poverty schools experience few significant gains from their school tour of an art museum. If schools do not provide culturally enriching experiences for these students, their families are likely to have the inclination and ability to provide those experiences on their own. But the families of disadvantaged students are less likely to substitute their own efforts when schools do not offer culturally enriching experiences. Disadvantaged students need their schools to take them on enriching field trips if they are likely to have these experiences at all.

Policy Implications

School field trips to cultural institutions have notable benefits. Students randomly assigned to receive a school tour of an art museum experience improvements in their knowledge of and ability to think critically about art, display stronger historical empathy, develop higher tolerance, and are more likely to visit such cultural institutions as art museums in the future. If schools cut field trips or switch to “reward” trips that visit less-enriching destinations, then these important educational opportunities are lost. It is particularly important that schools serving disadvantaged students provide culturally enriching field trip experiences.

This first-ever, large-scale, random-assignment experiment of the effects of school tours of an art museum should help inform the thinking of school administrators, educators, policymakers, and philanthropists. Policymakers should consider these results when deciding whether schools have sufficient resources and appropriate policy guidance to take their students on tours of cultural institutions. School administrators should give thought to these results when deciding whether to use their resources and time for these tours. And philanthropists should weigh these results when deciding whether to build and maintain these cultural institutions with quality educational programs. We don’t just want our children to acquire work skills from their education; we also want them to develop into civilized people who appreciate the breadth of human accomplishments. The school field trip is an important tool for meeting this goal.

Jay P. Greene is professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, where Brian Kisida is a senior research associate and Daniel H. Bowen is a doctoral student.

Additional materials, including a supplemental study and a methodological appendix , are available.

For more, please see “ The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2021 .”

This article appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Education Next . Suggested citation format:

Greene, J.P., Kisida, B., and Bowen, D.H. (2014). The Educational Value of Field Trips: Taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more . Education Next , 14(1), 78-86.

Last updated September 16, 2013

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The Benefits Of Field Trips

What do you remember from school? What caused you to be who you are today? Chances are, a group project, a special speaker, or a field trip helped you decide. It may have even been something you did on your own, outside of school after learning about a given topic. There was something in your life that sparked your passion or curiosity. It pushed you to take your learning into your own hands and learn more.

Every student comes to the classroom with a different world experience. We know that students who have been exposed to many different things do better in school. In order to be successful readers, students need to relate what they read to what they've experienced. To think broadly students need to have a variety of experiences.

As teachers, we know that field trips are important, but why specifically? There are a number of significant benefits.

Real World Learning

As teachers, a field trip is one of the best tools that we can use to provide every student with real-world experiences. Whether that's a trip to the local grocery store, waterfront park, a library, a museum, a theater, a community garden or a restaurant, each experience that a student participates in contributes to their understanding of the world.

When students leave the classroom, they see the connections between what is happening at school and in the ‘real-world’. They begin to see that what they learn within the walls of the classroom can help them solve the problems they see in the world around them and can have a direct impact on who they become as people.

Students are able to access tools and environments that are not available at school. Our communities are rich learning laboratories. Field trips make it possible to take students to see an underwater ecosystem at an aquarium, participate in citizen science in a river, use high powered microscopes, see and touch historical artifacts in person and present on a public stage among hundreds of other things. Each experience solidifies learning and supports important academic concepts.

Socio-emotional Growth

Students who go on field trips become more empathetic and tolerant. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that students that participate in a field trip to an art museum show increased empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills. Studying art gives students a chance to think about a topic or theme from a different perspective.

Academic Impact

Field based learning increases test scores. A recent study by Emilyn Ruble Whitesell showed that middle school students who participate in science field trips through the Urban Advantage program score better on the state science test. Field trips and hands on learning make concepts more memorable. Just think back to what you learned in school, the field trips you took, and what you learned on them are still some of the clearest concepts.

Additionally, field trips are important because students are able to engage with content in a variety of ways. Concepts are presented through all different media and different modalities, so students who struggle with traditional learning can feel smart and confident. They are able to access the content better when they can learn holistically. When they return to school, the trip that they took can serve as a touchpoint for an entire unit.

Some of our students worlds are so small, but the community that each child lives in is an incredible resource for broadening it. Within each student’s city or region, there are people and places that students can access that cannot be replicated by the Internet or in the classroom. This multisensory learning experience can bring one dimensional lessons to life and create enthusiasm for a subject that is hard to replicate through other media. As teachers, it’s our duty to make that possible.

Explorable Places is a new online platform that helps you find the best field trip for your students. Click here to search by subject, grade, price, location and accommodation. You'll find just what you are looking for.

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How Field Trips Boost Students’ Lifelong Success

Educational trips contribute to better student outcomes in school and beyond. maximize the impact of field trips on students with these 9 ideas..

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Here’s why field trips are important 

The study found that regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%) and greater income (12% higher annually). 

In fact, 89% said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because enriching field trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious, and interested in and out of school.

“When I was growing up, my parents said the 3 Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) were important,” says Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “But for my kids, I made ‘roaming’ the fourth R. We live in a global society, and if you don’t see outside the neighborhood you grow up in, the world will pass you by. Traveling has opened my kids’ eyes. It’s made them more confident and inspired them to reach outside their normal environment to learn and obtain skills to bring them to the next level.”

More benefits of school trips

Margy Natalie, acting onsite learning manager at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum , notes the powerful effect school trips can have on student learning: “Field trips give students the opportunity to learn in a natural environment and experience things first-hand and from primary resources, rather than texts; real objects rather than photos.”  

Carylann Assante, executive director for Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) and SYTA Youth Foundation , seconds the notion that real world exploration outside the classroom can bolster students’ critical thinking skills. “Today’s students are visual learners, and a field trip lets them touch, feel and listen to what they’re learning about, which helps them build on classroom instruction, gain a better understanding of topics, build cultural understanding and tolerance, and expose them to worlds outside their own.”

Assante says field trips are particularly important for disadvantaged students, as they provide students with unique opportunities that level the playing field. “Field trips give diverse and financially-in-need students equal opportunity to experience things outside classroom that their families may not be able to afford,” she says.

A field trip can also be the first trip a student takes without their parents, so it builds independence, as well. “There’s a reason people say I need to get away and recharge my batteries. There’s truth to it,” Dow says. “If I was a school system looking at these stats, I couldn’t afford not to make this a part of our curriculum.”

Tips for planning a successful field trip

You’ve decided to plan an educational field trip for your class, whether it’s to an art museum, science museum, historic site, aquarium, planetarium or some other immersive, interactive learning environment. Now, you need to know what steps to take to ensure a successful field trip. Keep these expert tips in mind:

1. Look around your region for interesting day trips

Dow suggests a planned field trip so you and your class can easily explore an aspect of local history on a day trip. “You can take a quick drive and see the history of places around you—there’s tons of inexpensive things teachers can do that will have a phenomenal impact,” he says.

2. Do your homework

Ideally, you could scope out the destination in advance to ensure the field trip will produce your desired learning experience. “Plan carefully, do your research, visit the site before you plan, ask questions and take recommendations of staff,” Natalie suggests.

3. Follow protocol

“Teachers need to review their school’s policies on field trips in advance and prepare the forms with specific learning objectives and how the field trip will accomplish those objectives tied to their school's core curriculum,” Assante says. Most museums, attractions and locations have education materials to explain how their attraction supports teacher lesson plans and educational curriculums.

4. Involve your students in the preparation

Prepare your class for their upcoming school field trip by getting them interested and excited about what their experience may be like. “Discuss the goals of the field trip in advance, talk about what they will see and what they should learn,” Natalie says. 

Consider letting the class pick the field trip destination so they have ownership and will feel invested in it, Assante suggests. 

5. Make trips relevant to classroom instruction

“Base your field trips on your content area. If you’re studying ancient Egypt, don’t take them to Jamestown,” Natalie says. “Focus on how the trip fits into your content or another educational goal. A field trip should be a day out, not a day off.”

6. Incorporate technology

“Many students use their mobile devices to engage with the field trip in the classroom with apps and blogs,” says Assante. This can help create an interactive learning experience that engages students during the trip, and then reconnect with that experience later in the classroom and at home.

7. Engage the senses

Select a field trip destination where students won’t be sitting down, like they typically do in the classroom. They should be able to touch, explore and share their experiences, Assante says.

8. Fundraise to cover any extra costs

“Engage the parents, PTA or other teachers to support school-wide field trips and help raise the funds so everyone can afford to attend the trip,” says Assante, who also notes some large companies even offer field trip grants.

If you’re looking for deals on tickets to attractions and events, see if you can cut the costs of the admissions fees with the NEA Discount Ticket Program .

9. Follow up on the lessons learned

“Students are much more likely to write about an experience they recently had, like the field trip, than a random prompt,” says Natalie, who recommends following up with graded assignments. “Have each student write about their favorite artifact or activity on the field trip, or why this field trip is important to keep, or conversely, how a different field trip might be better.”

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Why School Trips Are Beneficial for Students

Home » Why School Trips Are Beneficial for Students

The pandemic has had many implications for students, teachers, and the educational system as a whole—the loss of many school trips among them. Now is the moment to make up for lost time ! Although some may consider school trips as more of a bonus element than an essential part of the school experience, we know just how valuable school trips are for students from first-hand experience .

From the notable academic benefits to the advantages for personal development, we believe passionately that school trips are a vital part of what makes CAS and IB experience so unique. Educational trips allow students to mobilize their learnings while socializing with peers and strangers in a completely different way than many of them have before. It is these experiences that many students remember most from their time at school. 

So, if you are looking for inspiration for the 2022/2023 academic year, here are just a few ways school trips can benefit students.

School trips bring subjects to life

Each young person learns a bit differently and ensuring that students receive a wide variety of learning experiences ensures that no one is left behind. Kinaesthetic learners, in particular, benefit immensely from the chance to take a hands-on approach to a topic. For example, a study of 10th-grade students from 2019 evaluated the attitude of students who had experienced learning outside of the classroom with those who had not. The findings showed that the experimental group had a more positive attitude towards science than their peers. It was also found that field trips promote a more vital interest in science. 

So, whether studying marine biodiversity in person or learning about different approaches to sustainability by seeing them implemented in a city, the quality of knowledge in virtually all subjects is enhanced when real-life experience is part of the program.

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School trips allow for the discovery of new interests

Exposure to new situations, topics, and teaching methods automatically stimulates interest and excites the brain. As such, school trips are a potent tool to cultivate new interests and boost motivation to continue exploring existing ones. School trips abroad and even shorter outings closer to home can provide invaluable inspiration for students. Many Service Learning experiences that students have while traveling, for example, prompt them to implement their own ideas once they have returned home. 

School trips benefit the classroom environment

In addition to how a school trip directly impacts a student’s academic education, such as strengthening their understanding of a subject or offering practical memories to be utlized in the exam hall, it will also improve the classroom environment once everyone has returned home. Carving out a block of time to share unique and exciting experiences necessarily improves relationships between students and between students and teachers. This generally translates to improved behavior and engagement at school. 

School trips instill confidence and independence

Another hugely important benefit of school trips is gaining the confidence to try new things. An essential step in broadening their horizons , a young person who feels empowered to do things and go places on their own will automatically open up many new and beneficial opportunities. For many students, a school trip might be their first time traveling without their families. This gives students a new level of responsibility for themselves and their belongings. 

In addition, travel also taps into the skills needed for public speaking, professional communication, and presentations—all things many students struggle with. Educational trips challenge students who may be timid or tend to avoid engaging with unfamiliar people. By stepping outside of their comfort zone when asking for directions, posing questions to the staff at visits, or even ordering food while traveling—these students’ confidence will enjoy a notable boost. 

School trips promote deeper cultural understanding

Trips abroad and even travel within their home country can help students appreciate the wonderful mixture of cultures, cuisines, and traditions that constitute the world around them. Travel is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience cultures outside their own and appreciate the shared characteristics that unite us. Students will also be gifted with first-hand knowledge of how their culture is informed by others and vice versa, leading to deeping understanding, empathy, and international mindedness .

At CAS Trips , we firmly believe that school trips help students gain real-world experience that cannot be taught in a classroom. These enriching and memorable journeys open their minds to different cultures and strengthen their knowledge of the world around them. 

Ready to start planning? Get in touch to speak with one of our educational travel experts today. 

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Why Are School Trips Important For Students?

Students learn best when they can see, hear, and experience things first-hand.  Multi-sensory learning is an important part of school life, and school trips answer the requirements of all five senses.

It’s because of this that schools arrange trips to help children learn more about the subjects that they are studying. Educational trips can be used to support all kinds of subjects; History, Geography, Science and Languages are the most popular, but they can also support cultural enrichment and wider social development.

Learning Outside the Classroom

All young people need the knowledge, skills and understanding to live in, and contribute to, a global society and this begins with an understanding of the world in which we live, including the languages, values and cultures of different societies. The first-hand experience gained on a residential school trip is one way of enabling young people to acquire this mix of knowledge, skills and understanding. All of these activities, in their different ways, help to develop self-esteem, self-confidence and independence. They also give young people the opportunity to experience other cultures, meet and develop new friendships whilst broadening their horizons and knowledge.

Tours are a particularly strong way to consolidate learning, as young people’s experiences can be directly related to the real world. For example, geographical studies come to life with the actual physical feature right there in front of them; and a foreign language is easier to use in its native environment.

Here are some of the many reasons why students should learn outside the classroom:

The Council for Leaning Outside the Classroom (LOtc) is a registered charity existing to champion learning outside the classroom. They believe that EVERY child should be given the opportunity to experience life and lessons beyond the classroom walls as a regular part of growing up.  Click here  to read more from the 'Learning Outside the Classroom' Organisation.

European Study Tours holds a Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge which is the first nationally recognised accreditation for organisations and venues providing learning outside the classroom experiences which are safe and offer high quality teaching and learning.

Browse our website for inspiration! You can search by destination or by subject , or call us on 0330 838 4120 and let us help you plan your perfect trip!

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We are here to ensure you and your students get the most out of your tour and we are confident that our prices are competitive without compromising on quality. If you have obtained an alternative quote from another tour operator our team would be delighted to discuss this with you.

Fifth grade students observe nature during a field trip

Yes, Field Trips Are Worth the Effort

Culturally enriching trips can boost grades and decrease absences and behavioral infractions, new research reveals. 

As a teacher, Elena Aguilar often looked for opportunities to get her students out of the classroom and into different neighborhoods or natural environments. “We did the usual museum trips and science center stuff, but I loved the trips which pushed them into unfamiliar territory,” writes Aguilar , an instructional coach and author. Nudging kids out of their comfort zones, she says, “taught them about others as well as themselves. It helped them see the expansiveness of our world and perhaps inspired them to think about what might be available to them out there.”

Aguilar’s thinking made an impact: 15 years after traveling with her third-grade class to Yosemite National Park, a student contacted Aguilar on Facebook to thank her for the life-changing excursion. “You changed our lives with that trip,” the student wrote. “It's what made me want to be a teacher, to be able to give that same gift to other kids.”

As schools grapple with pandemic-related concerns about balancing in-seat instructional time with non-essentials like trips, new research published in The Journal of Human Resources argues that field trips, and the vital educational experiences that they provide—whether it’s a visit to a local museum or a big commitment like Aguilar’s national park trip—deliver a host of positive social and academic outcomes and are worth the effort.

“The pandemic should not keep schools from providing these essential cultural experiences forever,” asserts Jay P. Greene , one of the study’s co-authors and a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in an opinion piece for the Daily News . “If schools make culturally-enriching field trips an integral part of the education experience, all students—especially those whose parents have a harder time accessing these experiences on their own—would benefit.”

In the study, researchers assigned more than 1,000 fourth- and fifth-grade students in Atlanta to two groups. One group participated in three to six “culturally-enriching” field trips—visits to an art museum, a live theater performance, and a symphony concert—while students in the control group stayed put in class. The outcome? Kids in the field trip group “scored higher on end-of-grade exams, received higher course grades, were absent less often, and had fewer behavioral infractions,” compared to students in the control group, according to a ScienceDaily brief . Benefits lasted two to three years, Greene writes, and were “most visible when students were in middle school.”

“We are able to demonstrate that a relatively simple intervention—and we consider it pretty low-touch; three field trips in a year, maybe six field trips in two years—can actually have some substantial impacts,” says lead study author Heidi Holmes Erickson in an interview with The 74 . “They’re not just limited to social benefits. It shows that smaller interventions can actually have some significant effects on academics as well.”

Field trips aren’t a threat to in-class instruction, Erickson notes, they’re a tool to help bolster engagement and expand students’ horizons. “It's possible to expose students to a broader world and have a culturally enriching curriculum without sacrificing academic outcomes, and it may actually improve academic outcomes,” Erickson says. Far from harming test scores, the researchers found that culturally rich excursions reinforce academics and “students who participated in these field trips were doing better in class.”

Meanwhile, class trips don't need to be elaborate productions to make an impact: small excursions outside the classroom—"low-touch," as the researchers call them—can pack a punch. Here’s how three educators recommend dialing it back with low-stakes options that are both engaging and stimulating for students, but might not require days to prepare and plan:

Make Them Bite-Sized : Instead of allocating an entire day to a field trip, educational consultant Laurel Schwartz takes her classes on micro field trips , or “short outings that can be completed in a single class period.” These real-world encounters, she says, are especially beneficial for English learners and world language students. A micro field trip to a nearby park or around school grounds, for example, can be a great opportunity to “enhance a unit on nature and wildlife while reinforcing vocabulary for senses, colors, and the concepts of quantity and size,” Schwartz writes. “Afterwards, students might write descriptive stories set in the place you visited using vocabulary collected and defined together by the class.”

Try Teacher-Less Trips : To encourage exploration and learning outside of the classroom, former social studies teacher Arch Grieve removes himself from the equation with teacher-less field trips rooted in students’ local communities. Grieve only suggests options that are directly tied to a unit being discussed in class—like attending a talk at a local university or visiting a museum or cultural festival—and offers extra credit to incentivize students. “These trips allow for a greater appreciation of my subject matter than is possible in the school setting, and perhaps best of all, there's little to no planning involved.”

Explore Virtual Options : It may not be as fun as visiting in person, but the Internet makes it possible to visit museums like The National Gallery of London and The Vatican Museums without leaving the school building. Middle school English teacher Laura Bradley likes to search the Museums for Digital Learning website by topic, keyword, and grade level, to find lessons and activities that meet her unique curricular needs. The site grants access to digitized museum collections, 3D models, audio files, documents, images, and videos. 

Study Experiences

5 ways that school trips can benefit students

5 ways that school trips can benefit students

What are your strongest memories from school? For most of us, it’s not the hours of classroom study and learning from a textbook that we look back on with fond memories – it’s the excitement of school trips. Whether it’s a day out or a week abroad, educational trips give students the chance to experience life outside the school gates (and leave their uniform at home).

From visiting museums, theatres, religious centres and historical sites to going on cultural or sports-related residentials, school trips encourage young people to learn and socialise with peers in a completely different way to within the classroom, and are often the experiences they remember most.

If you’re looking for inspiration for the 2017/2018 academic year, here are five ways that school trips can benefit students.

1. Bring subjects to life

Everybody learns differently. Some students (particularly kinaesthetic learners) find it helpful to take a hands-on approach to a topic – for example, learning about different types of rock by visiting a geological site and conducting rock-based experiments. Indeed, there are few subjects that cannot be enhanced by experiencing them in real life.

An   Ofsted report   from March 2011 discusses the benefits of school trips for History lessons, observing that they can help students appreciate historical events from new perspectives and bring a topic to life. Learning about the Belgian battlefields in a classroom, for example, does not offer the same depth of understanding as actually going to visit the WW1 battlefields – where students can see the trenches, visit the war graves and absorb the atmosphere, in the company of expert military guides. This gives students an entirely new appreciation of the topic when they return to school, which will inform their classroom studies.

2. Boost self-confidence

The classroom can seem a formal and even stressful environment for some students, making them feel shy or unsure about asserting themselves. The idea of speaking out in front of the class can make them feel anxious, no matter what you do as a teacher to support them. Taking students out of this environment and letting them socialise in a more informal situation is a great way to develop their interpersonal skills and self-confidence.

Even the quietest students can really come out of their shell on school trips and take this newfound confidence with them back to the classroom. This can help them with everything from making new friends to improving relationships with teachers and expressing themselves in front of the class.

3. Increase motivation

If students visit a place or see an artefact up close that they have been learning about in school, they might feel more enthusiastic and confident talking about it when they return to school. There is some evidence to back this up and suggest that school trips can lead to higher achievement and increased motivation in class.

According to Ofsted’s 2008 report ‘ How far should you go? ’, school trips can be integral to re-engaging students who have lost motivation in school or a particular topic. Indeed, a   survey   by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) found that 77 percent of teachers agreed school trips helped to motivate their students. As well as helping students explore subjects in new ways, school trips can break up the school week or month, giving them a target to aim for.

4. Encourage good behaviour

Students with challenging behaviour can be difficult to manage in a classroom environment. They might show off because they’re in close proximity to their peers, or perhaps they are not interested in the topic and so cause trouble as a means of distraction or for entertainment. Whatever the reason, school trips can sometimes help to encourage better behaviour.

If students enjoy the trip, they are likely to learn without realising that they’re learning, meaning they don’t feel the need to rebel against teachers. Interacting with their teachers in a less formal environment can even help to develop a mutual respect that continues when they return to the classroom. According to the   LOtC survey , 30 percent of teachers agreed that they had seen students’ behaviour improve after a school trip.

5. Broaden their horizons

School trips often allow young people to enjoy activities and places that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. This can help them to develop personal interests and, in some cases, discover interests they didn’t know they had. For example, a school trip might later lead to a lifelong fascination with a particular sport or a certain period of art.

It can also give them the valuable opportunity to practise their learning in a way that isn’t possible in school – e.g. visiting the origin country of a language they’re learning and being able to practise their linguistic skills and absorb the culture. Going on school trips helps students gain real-world experience that cannot be taught in a classroom, opening their minds to different cultures and strengthening their knowledge of the world around them.

These are just some of the reasons why school trips can be beneficial for students. As one of our colleagues at Study Experiences says: “Our trips are designed to really ‘bring to life’ classroom learning. As well as providing educational value, we really want the students to have a hugely enjoyable experience that they’ll remember for years to come.”

To find out about organised study experiences, residentials and tours, contact us at   Study Experiences   for more information.

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