Every school year, thousands of students from around the country pile into school buses to spend a day learning outside the classroom. Field trips have been around for a number of decades-- with good reason as they are an integral part of learning. They serve to get students excited about school and increase learning outcomes. Some of the best days at school were the day when we weren’t necessarily in class, although not all field trips are created equal and while some are fun, they aren’t overly educational while others may be very education, they are not very fun. Finding that balance is the key to finding effective programs that have high value for you and your students.
With seemingly endless field trip options, choosing a program can be something of a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider when making such a decision from cost to distance, but a big factor that is often overlook is value. Now, value is not to be used synonymously with low price, as it seems to have evolved from a marketing standpoint, but value as in the true meaning of the word: the importance, worth or usefulness of something. With limited funds, many schools choose field trips based off of what they can most easily afford. The issue is that while there are loads of fantastic, inexpensive trips, there are just as many low cost field trips that are equally low in value. Meaning, students spend a day outside the classroom, yet gain little from it.
How do can you gage value though? Well, value can be measured by a number of factors in which you should consider when choosing a field trip...
What do students learn from this trip?
Think about the actual learning outcomes of a trip and try to narrow the focus down to not only the learning subject, but the learning outcome. For example, if a school goes to Strawberry Banke Museum, don’t simply say students learn American History. Go deeper into it and get specific: maybe students learn the way of life during the Industrial Revolution or what the immigration process to the US was like at the turn of the century.
Once you have determined specific learning outcomes, think about the value of that lesson. Is that lesson better learned outside of the classroom? Is it even possible to teach the lesson inside the classroom? What impact will the lesson have on the students?
Does the field trip support what is being learned inside the classroom?
Consider if the lesson being learned from the field trip aligns with what else is being taught back at school. Is the lesson relevant to current class topics or is the lesson really a filler that does not overly pertain?
Does the field trip enhance what is being taught inside the classroom?
Assuming the field trip does indeed fit the in-school lessons, give some thought to whether or not the lesson simply fits or if it actually enhances lessons. It is good if a lesson fits, however it is better when a lesson actually works to enhance curriculum, meaning it helps to drive home the lesson.
Are the lessons students students learning going to help them futuristically?
Ideally, lessons should be helping students futuristically. A program with real value will extend its value beyond the day of the trip, or a week or so thereafter. Rather, a valuable program will teach lessons that students will use later in their studies or in life in general. For example, Enterprise City teaches life skills, civics and financial literacy in ways that carry over into the lives of students well beyond the day of their trip.
So what happens if we find that the most valuable programs are out of our budget? Don’t fear! There are many ways to fund field trips. Schools may come up with the difference in program cost and their budget by working with their PTO/PTA groups, fundraising, seeking grants, etc… Learn more about fundraising options by speaking with a program manager today and learn more about the value of Enterprise City!