Are Field Trips Disappearing?

By Naomi Dillon

Field trips -- those off-campus excursions to museums, performing arts centers, and city halls -- can spark curiosity and help students make connections to concepts they study in school. In some cases, it may be the first time students have been to these places.

Increasingly, however, these experiential learning opportunities are dwindling, falling prey to the budget ax that has sliced through discretionary spending in districts. According to a 2012 member survey by the American Association of School Administrators, 30 percent of respondents had already nixed field trips, while 43 percent indicated they would do so next year.

Rising and volatile fuel prices, along with stringent accountability measures, have it difficult for districts to plan field trips. This is true even in the face of research showing that, if planned and managed properly, field trips contribute to marked increases in student learning and engagement. They also offer relevant answers in ways traditional classroom instruction often doesn’t or can’t.

For educators, it comes down to this: Are field trips worth preserving? 

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