Field Trips Inspire Learning That Lasts
With field trips, students learn in a way that cannot be replicated in the classroom. And, perhaps most importantly, field trips are so different and so interesting that they often stick with students—along with the lessons they included—long after daily classroom experiences have faded. Regardless of their messy and sometimes inconsistent quality, field trips provide enduring pedagogical value—even to the point of raising test scores.
Here’s why Field Trips Matter:
Field trips are memorable: the extraordinary makes the field trip stick out in your mind and stick in your memory.
Field trips are unusual: they provide an opportunity to learn about things that aren’t available in the classroom or in one’s normal day-to-day life.
Field trips connect students to expertise: whether it is the expertise of subject matter, or presentation, or embodied in experts often the field trips bring students to a level of expertise that is hard to get in the classroom.
Field trips connect students to real-life things: is there a substitute for touching a real goat, or seeing an actual Monet painting, or operating a working printing press?
Field trips teach life skills: from navigating traffic to managing money, to combating boredom on a car ride, there is often opportunity to practice essential life skills.
Field trips help us bond: trips with classmates, especially the overnight trips, helps classes come together – they show greater cohesion afterward.
Field trips are fun: they are usually exhausting and almost always very fun.
We take a lot of field trips at Rainard! Each class takes roughly one per month. We work hard to ensure that each trip is a benefit to the students—tying to the curriculum and classroom lessons as appropriate.
We have a wealth of options in the Houston area, and for overnight trips beyond Houston. Here is a partial list of our Rainard field trip destinations from the 2015-2016 school year—some for each grade, some for multiple grades, and some for the whole school:
- The Houston Public Library
- Sailing in Galveston
- The Houston Astros
- The Houston Gem & Mineral Show
- The Texas Hill Country
- HMNS Hall of Paleontology
- Dewberry Farm
- Physics at I-Fly
- The Houston Arboretum
- San Felipe De Austin
- Buchanan’s Nursery
- A Houston Recycling Plant
- InterActive Theater Company
- HMNS Planetarium and Mineral Hall
- Houston Food Bank
- A News Station Weather Tour
- The Potter’s Wheel
- A visit with Meteorologists
- Transtar Flood Control
- Stratford Playhouse
- Katy Rock Shop
- Mainstreet Theater
- Texas Core Drilling
- UH Space Architecture
- The Edith Moore Bird Sanctuary
- The Downtown Aquarium
- George Observatory
- A visit with a Gemologist
- Blessington Farms
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
At Rainard we think field trips are a valuable way to support our educational mission. The benefits are consistent with our experience and with educational research. Here is what some folks who have looked broadly and deeply at research on the value of field trips say:
“Experiential learning at formal and informal field trip venues increases student interest, knowledge, and motivation.”
“A substantial body of research on field trips has accumulated over the past 30 years… The general consensus that emerged from this line of research was that under certain favorable circumstances, field trips may lead to somewhat better learning outcomes than school-based instruction.”
A Short Review of School Field Trips: Key Findings from the Past and Implications for the Future
Jennifer DeWitt & Martin Storksdieck. Visitor Studies Volume 11, 2008 – Issue 2
“Using a rigorous identification strategy with school fixed effects to capitalize on variation in field trip participation within schools over time, I found small positive effects of exposure to field trips on students’ science test scores and proficiency.”
A day at the museum: The impact of field trips on middle school science achievement
Emilyn Ruble Whitesell. Journal of Research in Science and Teaching Volume 53, Issue 7 September 2016 Pages 1036–1054
Rainard is Houston’s private school for gifted education. We focus on meeting the social and emotional needs of bright students while challenging them to work to the best of their abilities. We help students excel. We inspire joy in learning.
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