Field Trips: Pros and Cons

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Are field trips worth all the time and effort required to make them successful? Most teachers have asked themselves this question at one time or another, typically when feeling overwhelmed as they prepare for a field trip. The truth is that field trips can cause quite a few headaches for teachers. At the same time, well-planned field trips can provide students with truly educational experiences they cannot get in the confines of the classroom.

Following is a look at the pros and cons of field trips.

Benefits of Field Trips

Field trips provide students with new opportunities for learning. Here is a list of the many reasons that teachers should take students on field trips: 

  • Information is presented to students in a way that meets different learning modalities. Field trips provide students with the ability to learn by doing instead of just passively listening to the information being taught in class. 
  • Students are exposed to new experiences that hopefully broadens their horizons. This can be especially helpful for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who may not have been exposed to these opportunities before. 
  • Concepts that have already been learned in the classroom can be reinforced. Sometimes seeing information being taught in a new way can make all the difference in student comprehension. There is quite a difference between being taught about something like hurricanes and wind speed and experiencing them in an exhibit at a science museum. 
  • Students are provided with shared reference points that teachers can then refer to and use in future classes. Teachers can then refer back to things that students saw and experienced for the rest of the school year. 
  • Students and teachers can see each other in a different light, helping to increase communication between them. Some students who might be overlooked in class because they are quiet might really come alive on field trips. 
  • If parents are involved as chaperones, they can feel more connected to the teacher and the lessons being taught. They can get to know the teacher better and understand what they 

Negative Aspects of Field Trips

There are a number of concerns and challenges that teachers face when designing field trips. 

  • Teachers have to spend a lot of time planning if they wish to make the field trip meaningful. They have to coordinate locations and transportation. They also need to create an effective lesson plan that they will follow when on the field trip. 
  • There is often red tape that teachers have to deal with as they plan field trips. Schools typically require paperwork from teachers and their students. 
  • Teachers have to organize the collection of money and the assigning of chaperones. Teachers need to spend some time creating student groups that work for all students and ensuring that chaperones are assigned accordingly. 
  • Students have more freedom which might possibly lead to additional discipline problems. Because the teacher typically only leads a small group, they cannot keep control over the behavior of every student on the field trip. It is very important that teachers enforce rules strictly and create effective consequences for misbehavior while on field trips. 
  • The field trip destination might not live up to the teacher's expectations. The location might not be as interesting as the teacher thought it would be.The time to complete the field trip might be considerably less than was expected. Therefore, it is a good idea to have some contingency plan in mind just in case.

All in all, most teachers feel that well-chosen field trip destinations are quite worth the hassles associated with field trips. The key is taking the time to plan each aspect as much as possible. Teachers must be proactive when thinking about and planning field trips. Many of the issues listed above can be avoided with adequate time and effort.