Time requirements: At least 50 minutes; preferably a couple of hours

 

Special features: A field trip can be especially interesting for students and instructors, and it facilitates some types of learning that cannot take place in a classroom. A field trip to a professional institution can show students where their studies may lead them. A field trip for the purpose of gathering data can give students practice with research techniques and show them the relevance of course material to the outside world. Some courses or departments require field trips which you will have to lead. In other courses, you might be able to consider short field trips during your discussion groups or tutorials to locations on or near campus. For example:

  • For a science course, consider arranging a visit to a laboratory to observe various lab functions in progress.
  • For a sociology course, consider sending students to observe the working conditions of various jobs on campus.
  • If leaving the classroom is not feasible, consider using media such as videos or computer simulations as “virtual” field trips.

Procedure

  1. Prepare for time constraints, bad weather, and other misfortunes.
  2. Look at past course outlines or notes to gather ideas for where to go.
  3. Communicate a clear “mission” of the field trip to the students.
  4. Research shows that students learn more from field trips in which they are not simply observers: encourage students to participate in their surroundings by giving an assignment that must be accomplished using data from the field or notes from a visit.
  5. Taking effective field notes and identifying the key points of a field trip can be hard: consider giving students a worksheet allowing them to do a self-guided tour – include questions to be answered.
  6. During the class before the field trip, have a preparatory session: discuss practical matters (dress, safety, equipment to bring) and the academic background to the field trip.
  7. Very important: allow enough time for debriefing (discussing and processing data obtained on the field trip) as soon as possible afterwards.

 

Function in the class: Generally, an entire class will be spent on a field trip. Classes before and afterwards can be used to prepare for and process the trip. A field trip can provide a good focus for a segment of course material.