I am honestly quite surprised to hear the idea that field trips are ineffective and don’t promote learning. Personally, I believe this type of experiential learning is most effective. Perhaps some of what is being referred to as ineffective field trips are some like I remember going on such as roller skating, ice skating and skiing. These didn’t seem all that educational to me, however they did provide an experience some students might never get otherwise. Also, I would say all the trips we took, no matter where we went, lasted with me the longest. They are experiences that students remember and if done appropriately can really make a lasting impact on your learners.
I think a way to ensure there is active learning on a field trip is to go to a place that has hands-on activities that students can engage in. Take the opportunity to go beyond passive learning and let students explore (with reason and obviously adequate supervision). Don’t ruin the experience with a lengthy assignment or test at the end but do provide some sort of reflection or activity that makes students aware that this is an important learning experience even though they are out of the classroom setting.
Because STEAM is so comprehensive, so too are the places students can go to engage in these types of skills. Some of my initial ideas include going to a farm, an energy plant, a community garden, a museum, or even just simply a nature hike on a local trail. You don’t have to go far to create an incredible learning experience for your students in STEAM.
Thank you for bringing up this topic! I look forward to learning more about this as well!
3rd Year Elementary Education Major