Field trips are an essential element of school life. They allow students to interact with the real world, gain cultural experience, enhance their learning, and gain other advantages. However, in recent years, field trips are often viewed as a luxury and cut from K-12 budgets. But field trips are far more than just a fun experience to reward students. It is an amazing way to improve learning. Let’s take a look at the benefits that field trips can have.

Field Trips Create An Even Playing Field

The first clear advantage of field trips is that it gives students from disadvantaged backgrounds access to experiences they might not otherwise have. For instance, many students are unable to visit museums unless it’s provided as a school activity. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as lack of transportation or family resources. While students from more privileged backgrounds can have access to art, hands-on learning, and social interactions driven by field trips, others miss out on those experiences during their formative years. This furthers the divide between these groups of students and even if the impact is small, it still contributes to the on-going disadvantage. Students of all backgrounds need to have a chance to experience art, culture, and real-world learning.

Educational Experiences Teach Culture

Field trips are an important path to enrichment. It exposes students to the existing culture, to new ideas and perspectives, and takes them out of their comfort zone towards potential new experiences. For many, field trips offer a glimpse into a new life and a way of learning that might not be accessible in daily life. This could be true not only of disadvantaged students but also of whose families have an entirely different cultural background. The playing field is leveled by giving every student the opportunity to have equal experiences outside of the classroom. Even privileged students might have limited opportunities, and it’s useful to help them see things they might not be exposed to otherwise. 

Learning Is Easier On Field Trips

Field trips also have an academic benefit. Students can better retain the information they receive in a new setting while getting to interact with nature and the outside world. It’s simply not the same to view a painting on a slide vs in a museum, for example. Something that happens outside of the classroom can feel more exciting, more engaging, and more novel, so learners are more motivated and can easily remember the experience. Field trips are an effective way to enhance and enrich learning. 

Helping Children Understand The Real World  

Students are still figuring out how the world works, and everything they encounter adds to their understanding of life. A visit to a museum, library, grocery store, or anywhere can show some interesting new aspect to the real world that students might otherwise not discover. There is also added value in the practical nature of experiential learning, as it’s not purely theoretical. The real world takes learners outside of their comfort zone, a useful and enriching experience for students of all backgrounds, and a necessity for social emotional development.

Apply Ideas To Reality

A common issue with classroom learning is that it feels abstract, disconnected from reality. Sure, it might be interesting, but when will we apply this in real life? Who needs this? Who uses this? These are questions that students ask. Field trips help answer these questions – they show real-life applications of different ideas, perspectives, and concepts, connecting learning to the real world and the lived experiences of people. It can help them see that the ideas discussed in the classroom actually exist and have an impact. Field trips help “land” the learning and  make it much more concrete, practical, and applied in the real world, something that adds value and enriches the students’ experience.

It’s Simple – Field Trips Are Fun!

A part of the value of field trips that should not be underestimated is their ability to invoke positive emotions. Field trips are exciting and fun, they can be novel and interesting just by virtue of happening somewhere else. As such, they are an important source of positive emotions and a way of making powerful memories. Fun, emotionally engaging experiences are also more likely to create meaningful learning experiences. We remember the things that make us feel better, and we are more motivated to become involved with situations that are perceived as fun. Field trips make students feel more willing to listen and learn, and in doing so, improves retention and thinking.

Teaching To Care & Understand

Field trips provide a natural way of increasing empathy and tolerance. By exposing students to new environments and perspectives, it is possible to make them consider things in a new light. Taking them outside of their usual cultural context can be important for their social and emotional development. It encourages kids to engage with unfamiliar things in a better, more balanced way. Field trips can provide an opportunity for learning from people of diverse backgrounds, highlighting their experiences and perspectives.

Don’t Stress – Go. Learn. Grow. (Tripology’s Motto)

Many modern schools create a high-pressure environment. Students are expected to work, participate, and achieve good results. This is important, of course, but can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression. Field trips provide a break from the classroom and give students opportunities to focus on learning, not just a grade. It becomes a positive, social experience that can help the student relax and take a break while still being productive and educational.

Field Trips Build Friendships

A field trip gives students an opportunity to engage with each other in a social setting. Because it’s not usually focused on teamwork or grades, the pressure is alleviated from students’ interactions with each other. A field trip can be an opportunity to chat, have fun, and become closer to one’s peers in a less structured context than the school and classroom. 

Kids Learn Better With New Things

Schools have different tools, laboratories, artistic spaces, and resources. While no school can have everything, field trips provide spaces to work with tools that are usually unavailable to them. For example, students could go and enjoy field work in an actual field or craft in an actual studio. This is not only something that can improve learning. It’s an experience that can give learners a better idea of how different professions work. It might be a chance for students to try on different hats in spaces that are much closer to reality than what can be provided within a school.

Get Involved and Stay Involved

Field trips help students feel like a part of their community and become involved in different aspects of social life. In the modern world, it is common to see students who mostly engage with their family and peers and are more limited in the interactions they have with their neighborhood, communal spaces, and prosocial initiatives. This can be remedied with field trips that get the students more involved in the world they live in and provide opportunities to visit and engage with various places around them.

Parents Need Help Too

For parents, field trips can also be beneficial. They create opportunities for them to expose their children to experiences but can’t provide themselves. It provides ways of enriching their children’s lives in a structured and safe situation, moderated by the school. In a world with plenty of economic, cultural, and psychological challenges, having more support from the education system can be useful for parents. 

In Conclusion

Overall, it’s clear that field trips have a lot of value. They are not a luxury but rather a necessity that significantly enhances the students’ experience and has a unique set of benefits to offer. It is difficult to replace field trips because nothing can serve as an alternative to the real world. Field trips can give chances to students of all backgrounds to step out of their daily routine and see something different, something new, and something valuable and meaningful. For many, this is their only opportunity to access art, culture, community engagement, and so much more. For these reasons, field trips are essential for the growth of our students and their understanding of the communities they live in.

What are the benefits of field trips?

Field trips have been shown to provide the following:
Access for disadvantaged students 
Cultural enrichment
Academic enrichment
Gets students involved in the real world 
Connects the abstract to the practical
Positive emotions and fun 
Increased empathy and tolerance 
Reduced stress 
Reinforced social bonds
Access to new tools and settings 
Community involvement
Support for parents

References

Greene, J.P., Bowen, D.H. & Kisida, B. (2013). The Educational Value of Field Trips. Education Next, 14 (1). 

Spiegel, M. (2019). Three Ways Field Trips Benefit Students. Retrieved from https://web.magnushealth.com/insights/three-ways-field-trips-benefit-students