A disadvantage of site visits is that they take an incredible amount of planning. The teacher must figure out transportation issues, teachers’ help, food and alternate plans n the event of inclement weather. The teacher has to make sure that a signed permission form, that you have emergency contact and information available on each student (including allergies) and that all fees are paid in advance.
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Research carried out by Exeter University has found out that nature-based school trips have a lasting impact on us as we grow up. In this study, teachers reported that students had had their future career choices influenced by the trips, with one in ten students saying school trips had been a key factor in their choice of future studies and career.
Community spirit is also developed from school trips. Students learn to value nature.
“We found that high quality out of classroom learning also influenced how children behave and the lifestyle choices they make. It shows the potential for school trips not just change children’s lives, but the lives of the whole communities.”
The trips also encourage group awareness and self-discipline.
The Government believes that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances. The Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) manifesto was launched in November 2006. Its purpose is to encourage more widespread use of the huge range of educational opportunities that lie outside the conventional classroom. The manifesto also aims to inspire schools and the organisations that support learning outside the classroom to provide high-quality experiences for all young people up to the age of 19.
The use of educational field trips has long been a major part of the education programming for both youth and adults. However, due to funding limitations, time constraints, and increased liability concerns many education professionals balk at requests for field trips. In spite of these concerns, well-planned field trips can be a valuable tool in the extension agents educational toolbox.
An educational field trip can be an integral part of the instructional program. Good field trips provide participants with first hand experience related to the topic or concept being discussed in the program. They provide unique opportunities for learning that are not available within the four walls of a classroom.
As with any type of educational program component, field trips should be designed around specific educational objectives. A field trip should be designed so participants can easily make connections between the focus of the field trip and the concepts they are learning in the rest of the educational program. Numerous research studies in science education have documented significant increases in participant factual knowledge and conceptual understanding after participation in well-planned field trips.
Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience.
Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates solely to the meaning making process of the individual’s direct experience. However, though the gaining of knowledge is an inherent process that occurs naturally, for a genuine learning experience to occur, there must exist certain elements. According to David Kolb, an American educational theorist, knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. He states that in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, certain abilities are required:
the learner must be willing to be actively involved in the experience;
the learner must be able to reflect on the experience;
the learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience; and
the learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.
Experiential learning can be a highly effective educational method. It engages the learner at a more personal level by addressing the needs and wants of the individual. Experiential learning requires qualities such as self-initiative and self-evaluation. For experiential learning to be truly effective, it should employ the whole learning wheel, from goal setting, to experimenting and observing, to reviewing, and finally action planning. This complete process allows one to learn new skills, new attitudes or even entirely new ways of thinking.
Most educators understand the important role experience plays in the learning process. A fun learning environment, with plenty of laughter and respect for the learner’s abilities, also fosters an effective experiential learning environment. It is vital that the individual is encouraged to directly involve themselves in the experience, in order that they gain a better understanding of the new knowledge and retain the information for a longer time. As stated by the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, “tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.”
An effective experiential facilitator is one who is passionate about his or her work and is able to immerse participants totally in the learning situation, allowing them to gain new knowledge from their peers and the environment created. These facilitators stimulate the imagination, keeping participants hooked on the experience.
Student recruitment, retention and completion rates are a major concern of most college faculty. Seibert, Hart and Sypher (1989) and Baker, et.al. (1991) document the benefits of experiential learning for student career decision making and for development.
Disciplines in the professional and technical disciplines including education and the health careers and social work are using experiential learning instructional techniques to provide students with the competencies necessary to pursue successful careers upon graduation (Baxter Magolda 1993; Hightower 1993).
Field trips and Learning
In recent years, more has been discovered about how we are able to store and retrieve information-in other words, our memory systems. Educators commonly use field trips as a way to solidify learning. New research and understanding of how the human brain processes information supports this practice and provides an understanding of why field trips are so important to learning.
Our most powerful kind of memory in terms of capacity is episodic memory. There are “episodes” in our lives that we can recall clearly no matter how long ago they may have occurred. If we focus on an episode from our past, we can begin to recall more and more details about it based on what we have determined to be the important issues. We can also recall and even experience the same emotions that we experienced at the time of the episode. In fact, emotions can trigger the memory of the episode. This is an incredibly powerful kind of memory, and skillful educators make the best use of it.
Field trips are a critical tool for creating episodic memory. Episodic memory is created through sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, location, and emotions. Field trips combined with arts activities before, during, and after the experience enable students to create powerful memories that they can recall the rest of their lives. The arts help to provide emotional content for the episode and establish emotional triggers that enhance storage and recall of memories from the experience. This approach incorporates both explicit and implicit memory pathways, thus increasing the likelihood of retrieval.
Field trips in the formative years are one of the most important things teachers can provide for their students. As we all know, children learn by doing. They remember what they have personally experienced. In addition, concept development is optimized through active, explorative experiences. Field trips are a type of experiential learning that gets children away from the traditional classroom setting and into a new mode of learning. They can be as simple as taking a class of children out on the school grounds for a lesson in observation, or as detailed as an out-of-state visit to a particular field site. Field trips not only expand children’s learning and experiences by providing them with hands-on experiences, they also increase children’s knowledge and understanding of the world in which they live.
Current research (Kisiel, 2006, Martin & Seevers, 2003; DeMarie, 2001 ; Knapp, 2002) has shown that field trips are essential for many reasons. Field trips provide real experiences related to all content areas. For example, a trip to a bird sanctuary brings all the sights, sounds, and nesting habits of these animals to life for children. Field trips extend learning by expanding a child’s world and provide a framework for learning.
Field trips enrich and expand the curriculum.
Children begin to think outside the box, as well as learning outside of the classroom. For example, third grade children are required to study and learn about state government. A field trip to City Hall or the court house gives children a first hand look at who runs the government.
Field trips strengthen observation skills by immersing children into sensory activities.
For example, a trip to the aquarium brings the sharks up close and personal for children to observe teeth, fins, and eyes. This is certainly something that children will not find in a textbook.
Field trips increase children’s knowledge in a particular subject area.
A visit to a natural history museum is much more exciting and informative than watching a video or reading a textbook (Semlak & Beck, 1999).
Field trips expand children’s awareness of their own community.
When children take a field trip to visit the local fire or police departments, they begin to understand, in a very concrete way, the value of these important community resources. Field trips focusing on a “beach-sweep,” or “street-sweep,” allow children to participate in activities in which they become community advocates. Field trips provide living laboratories where children acquire knowledge outside the realm of the regular classroom.
School field trips are a perfect supplement to lessons in the classroom. They give students the opportunity to have first-hand experiences and to explore the world. A field trip is especially effective if it supplements lessons already learned in the classroom. Students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of a subject when a field trip shows them their classroom lessons in action. They will also be more likely to retain the information they learn, and they will have fun while experiencing new things.
While most field trips are intended to help children learn school subjects, they can also teach children important life lessons about compassion and giving back to the community. For example, taking young students to a local nursing home to hand out cards and sing during the holidays is a simple, but heartfelt, gesture that the residents will appreciate. For older students, a field trip to a county jail can help impress the importance of respecting laws. Field trips can help educators teach their students many different lessons, and they can inspire kids to learn and grow as individuals.
Teaching Home Economics- Mary Moon
The supervision of activities outside school
Outside activities include visits, field trips and holidays both in country and abroad.
Most schools have an agreed pupil to staff ratio for such activities. Prior to leaving the school premises pupils need careful instruction on the procedure to be followed and the time to be apportioned to each activity. The teacher supervises the crossing of roads with everyone observing the usual pedestrian procedures. On public transport the display of socially acceptable behaviour by pupils is the responsibility of their teacher(s) towards fellow travellers, the conductor and the driver. If a teacher feels unable to control pupils competently it is wiser to refrain from escorting them outside school.
“Education should enable the individual to formulate his own philosophy on life and enable him to enter society at the end of his schooldays on the road leading to fulfilment.”
Teaching Home Economics- Hall & Paolucci
Trips in the community can provide rich sources of instruction in many phases of home economics. Field trips are known by a variety of names such as instructional trips, study trips, school trips, school journeys, and school excursions. All of these refer to an educational procedure in which students got to observe workers in their occupational environment.
The most obvious benefit of filed trips is the interest they hold for the students. Opportunities to break away from classroom routines and tensions are always welcome. Students are motivated to learn as they have opportunities to examine materials and obtain new ideas. Field trips can be used to arouse interest in a new unit of study, to promote interest during a unit, to review what has been covered.
Field trips furnish students with information that may not be available as effectively in any other way. First-hand experiences with materials in their natural settings may increase the validity of the students’ understandings of a subject. Knowledge can be clarified and applied to concrete, real-life experiences. Furthermore, various subjects of the school curriculum can be integrated into a meaningful whole.
Field trips can help students to grow toward many of the objectives of home economics. For example, students can develop their powers of observation; learn where to go for facts or to seek help with family problems, modify their attitudes, see how people live, develop appreciations, become interested in profitable uses of their leisure time, develop initiative, and receive background to enrich their study of a subject.
In addition to the many ways in which field trips can enrich the educational experiences of the students, they have public relations value also. The blending of school work with actual life not only enriches the students’ understanding of the school. In the process of planning with the teacher and students to make their visit worthwhile, the community hosts learn about the objectives and scope of the home economics program.
Meshke studied the use of community resources in the ninth and tenth grade home economics classes. The ninth grade classes were studying “Food Selection and Purchase” and the tenth grade classes were studying “Selection and Care of Electrical Equipment.” Experimental classes visited food stores and stores in which they could investigate electrical equipment. Other classes, known as the “classroom” groups, used as many contacts with stores as possible in their classroom experiences-descriptive and pictorial materials, and newspaper advertisements. “Control” groups received no information or special help; the teachers taught the units anyway they desired. Students who had actual store experience showed superior achievement on written tests. The findings suggested also that the students with store contacts were more self-reliant, more likely to exercise judgement in meeting problem situation, and more likely to practice at home what they had learned.
However, there are certain limitations or possible difficulties that may cause administrator reluctance or teacher inertia toward the inclusion of field trips. A field trip can be justified only to the extent that it contributes to the objectives of a course. The trip is not an end in itself; it may not be educational experience unless it is carefully planned and utilized. Considerable time is required to make the plans that are necessary for an effective experience. When more than one class period is necessary, a trip may be difficult to fit into the school schedule.
In determining the usefulness of a given experience, a teacher and her students need to think in terms of the criteria by which to select a field trip.
Toward Better Teaching of Home Economics
Field trips are among the most valuable teaching aids. According to Dale, study trips have several primary purposes: for students to learn in the field, where a major portion of their learning will take place after high school and college; for student to see relationships between classroom and outside world experiences; and for students to observe the everyday world in operation, to have an active exploratory experience, to add richness and meaning to concepts, and to develop the skills of observation by becoming more selective in seeing. Lastly, field trips can provide a means for improved school-community relations, particularly a heightened interest in the school curriculum. (Edgar Dale, Audiovisual Methods in Teaching. New York: The Dryden Press, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969, p. 297-307)
Field Trips must have a definite relation to class activities.
Site visits and the NMC
Stimulation of Analytical, Critical and Creative Thinking Skills
Students learn by asking questions and by establishing connections. Learning is an active process involving an ongoing search. Students learn from their everyday experiences through observation, listening, investigation, experimentation and the comparison of what has been discovered with what is already known.
Learning is an organic process of invention and mental restructuring and not a mechanical process of gathering information. Those who are learning are in a process throughout which they are constantly changing and refining their present modes of knowing. Students need to change their modes of knowing in an active manner. Teachers or learning systems must facilitate this process. A healthy education therefore encourages:
– a pedagogy based on questioning and not a pedagogy based on answers; questions that lead to further questions rather than answers;
– learning by doing, which involves the creation by students of concrete and relevant
objects, a process that involves looking at the problem.
The curriculum encourages a process of continuous search. Teachers should help students not only to establish the link between people, things, events, processes and ideas, but to continuously change or elaborate their structure of knowledge.
Students are not empty receptacles to be filled. Students are a flame to be set alight. The educational process is not a production line. Convenience, technocratic efficiency and mass production are not characteristics compatible with an educational process that places students at the centre of the curriculum. The National Minimum Curriculum recognises the interests, knowledge and student experiences, and reflects the understanding that students are capable of transforming and personalising new knowledge. In other words, the National Minimum Curriculum regards students not as passive recipients of static content but as critical and creative thinkers and producers of knowledge.
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Education Relevant for Life
Students consider the learning process to be relevant when they establish a link between school work and their personal experiences. When this relevance is not clear, teachers must establish the connection between what is being taught and its application and relevance for everyday life. Students develop a love of learning when they realise that learning, in terms of both content and method, helps them throughout their life.
In this context, the educational process must extend beyond the confines of the school.
Historical monuments, museums, permanent and temporary exhibitions, the workplace, institutions, and the natural surroundings offer an important educational context and should be an integral feature of the teachers’ scheme of work.
Usually it refers to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory and practices of experiential learning and environmental education.
“Education outside the classroom” describes school curriculum learning, other than with a class of students sitting in a room with a teacher and books. It encompasses biology field trips as well as indoor activities like observing a textile company.
Philosophy and theory about outdoor education tends to emphasise the effect of natural environments on human beings, the educative role of stress and challenge, and experiential learning.
John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) was a strong advocate of sensory learning who believed that the child should experience the actual object of study before reading about it. He thought the use of the sense – seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching – were the avenues through which children were to come in contact with the natural world. In preparation for the later study of natural sciences, children should first gain acquaintance with objects such as water, earth, fire, rain, plants, and rocks.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) carried out the ideas of Comenius by educating the boy, Emile, according to principles found in nature. He believed that physical activity was very important in the education of a child. They are curious, he claimed, and this curiosity should be utilized to the fullest. Rousseau preached that education should be more sensory and rational; less literary and linguistic. Rather than learning indirectly from books, children should learn through direct experience. He proclaimed, Our first teachers are our feet, our hands and our eyes. To substitute books for all these…is but to teach us to use the reasons of others.
Johann Henrick Pestalozzi (1746-1827) emphasized the use of direct, firsthand experiences and real objects, also. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, he taught practical skills such as farming, housekeeping, spinning and weaving. The school yard was used for lessons in nature study and geography. His mythology was based on the belief that the learner would use these beginning experiences at a later time to formulate principles and generalizations on his own. Pestalozzi, a follower of Rousseau, urged teachers to take their pupils out of the classroom:
Lead your child out into nature, teach him on the hilltops and in the valleys. There he will listen better, and the sense of freedom will given him more strength to overcome difficulties. But in these hours of freedom let him be taught by nature rather than by you. Let him fully realize that she is the real teacher and that you, with your art, do nothing more than walk quietly at her side.
Educational visits help young people to understand themselves, make decisions that play to their strengths and therefore seek out options that will best suit their successful development.
It is now increasingly possible to have the value and learning of educational visits accredited through both schools and the Youth Service.
The Council actively supports this activity by providing an assurance that educational trips are encouraged for all its students and monitored to ensure quality and safety. There are several different approaches to how this is achieved for example:
ensuring that everyone who needs it has the relevant information.
providing staff who conduct visits (party leaders) and those who have to approve them, Educational Visits Coordinators (EVCs) with guidance to help ensure that they are confident to make the essential judgements and decisions that their roles require.
ensuring additional guidance, often generated from incident investigations and from innovation, is circulated to EVCs for passing onto their colleagues.
thorough training made available to staff to become EVCs, party leaders, adventure activity leaders, first aiders and in the form of tailored programmes to address any local need.
providing feedback from monitoring visits to school governors, head teachers, managers, party leaders and to anyone else who has a genuine interest. Monitoring is through confirming party leaders plans prior to implementation, observing and testing arrangements for approving, seeing activities taking place in the field delivered by the Council’s staff or by a contracted provider.
maintaining a support and guidance facility via phone or email.
twice yearly news sheets.
The Council’s responsibilities are delivered by the Outdoor Education Adviser (OEA) whose role is supported by the Outdoor Education Advisers Panel, that works closely with the Department for Education (DfE). For further information on the work please contact the Outdoor Education Adviser. If you have a query about a specific trip please contact the organiser in the first instance.
A great deal of information can be found out about providers and the conditions they meet through their own websites or those of the professional association to which they subscribe. Providers who are legally required to be inspected and hold a licence can be verified on the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority website.
For further information about educational visits please see our educational visits frequently asked questions page.
Disruptive Pupils: Inclusion or Exclusion?
School visits should be available to all; but the good conduct and discipline of the pupils is crucial to the success of any trip, particularly those where there is already an element of inherent risk. Strict codes of behaviour and discipline are not there to spoil anyone’s enjoyment; they are necessary to maintain optimum health and safety and to ensure that everyone has a good time without harm.
The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) advises its members to consider excluding disruptive pupils – those who continually exhibit anti-social behaviour and which puts others at risk – from going on a school trip. The NUT feels that although school journeys present pupils with opportunities to demonstrate personal qualities of initiative, self-reliance and co-operation with others, the taking of children out of school is an “onerous responsibility” for teachers.
Meticulous planning and preparation are deemed necessary and maximum safety is the goal. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) advises its members to seek union advice before agreeing to take with them a pupil or student whose behaviour record (or medical record) gives them real cause for concern. ATL suggest that it may be appropriate to reach an agreement with the pupil’s parents about what action will be taken in the event of misbehaviour.
The Secondary Head’s Association (SHA) has an alternative suggestion: To split the school party into smaller, manageable units with good levels of supervision from experienced and competent staff; plus a full programme of activities to keep the pupils busy and boredom-free. This will allow effective control and discipline to be implemented. Leaders need to be alert to all possible problems – including those caused by disruptive behaviour. If anticipated, such problems can be avoided. The Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) includes the discipline of the children as a factor to be considered when working out supervision ratios.
“Managing Risk Assessment ” PM 008 of the “Professional Management Series” produced by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) clearly identifies poor supervision as an Organisational Hazard; the individual not being suited to a task or the unsafe behaviour of an individual as an Individual Hazard; and the areas of discipline, care and control as Procedural or Policy Hazards.
Individual school trip organisers will have to make their own decisions on this issue in accordance with school policy and after seeking appropriate advice. Nevertheless, it is generally agreed that if the pupils themselves are involved in the planning and organisation of their trip or visit from the beginning; and if they decide the rules and codes of behaviour and discipline for themselves; then they might be less likely to misbehave.
No child should be allowed on a school trip without a signed parental consent form.
Outdoor learning is good for children and young people. It helps them gain a practical understanding of the world around them, build self-confidence, test their abilities, take sensible risks, and develop a sense of responsibility and tolerance to places and people. The body of research showing the considerable health and well-being benefits of spending time in natural green spaces is growing. In addition, outdoor learning can help children and young people understand subjects, like maths or science, through real world examples and first hand experience. While academic achievement is important, outdoor education can play a significant role helping pupils develop soft skills like good communication, team work and leadership that are essential to a well rounded education vital for life beyond the classroom.
Despite worthwhile notions of journey and expedition, the ways in which time (and its natures) is experienced in ‘short’ and ‘long’ trips is rarely examined for the potentially rich ways it shapes the ‘experience’ of the outdoors, wilderness or nature. The possibility of a sense of place, immersion in nature’s spaces, or some ‘attachment’ to it/them is, immediately compromised. The (potential) ‘power of the proximal,’ or spatiality and geographies of movement in the outdoors are, we believe, undermined by the absence of the consideration and examination of time–knowingly or unknowingly. The problem with which we are concerned, then, as practitioners and theorists is the persistence of the traditional dominant logic of modern outdoor education. Our reflexive effort here is to contribute to those important discussions about the possibility of place pedagogies. Part of that contribution is to adopt a critical stance to how that dominant, modern cultural logic is embedded in a range of sources and, therefore, traditions in outdoor education. But those traditions are, increasingly, ensnared in the ‘fast.’ Hence, our ‘post-traditional’ case-study offering here of a slow pedagogy we have practiced over the past three years–where, following Cat Steven’s lyrics, our journey has been creeping, groping, finding and, quite simply, taking time to pause, explore, discover what a slow pedagogy is, and can potentially offer those emerging discussions of place. Here, in outlining a case study we only introduce theory, philosophy and critique in a minimalist manner, where necessary
Our witnesses were particularly concerned about the access that pupils from low income families have to school trips and visits; for these children school provision may be the only opportunity they have to experience different environments from their immediate locality. Andy Simpson commented:
…in order to have the kind of informed and engaged citizens we would all like to emerge from the school system, it is not unreasonable to identify a range of experiences-some cultural, some environmental, some adventurous-that go towards making that rounded and engaged citizen. Obviously, the role of the family
in providing those opportunities is the first port of call and is pivotal, but as a society we have to ask ourselves: are these things important enough that we leave them to a random chance that if the family does not provide them, the schools may or may not provide them?
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