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The Woods Academy

Where curiosity and confidence thrive.

The Benefits of Field Trips

The Benefits of Field Trips
Mrs. Caitlin Chalke, Director of Communications
Private school in Bethesda, MD, The Woods Academy, provides engaging field trips for students.

There is nothing more thrilling for a child than hopping on a school bus and heading out on an adventure for the day with their classmates and teacher. What some students may not realize is that this adventure is not just a “no school day,” but actually a hands-on learning experience that will broaden their horizon in more ways than one. 

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Human Resources, students who participate in multiple field trips during the school year have higher test scores, perform better in class, and have increased cultural conscientiousness over time.

In addition to high-test scores and performing better in class, here are four additional reasons why field trips are beneficial to students.

  1. Bolster Critical Thinking
    • Critical thinking skills include observation analysis, interpretation, reflection, reasoning, and communication among other things. When students are exploring outside the classroom, they can touch, feel, and listen to the world around them, giving the students exposure to observation and attention to detail.
  2. Cultural Growth
    • Going on field trips exposes children to new ideas, new places, and new experiences. In a study by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Northwest Arkansas, students who went on a field trip retained more factual information, displayed a stronger ability to think critically about art than the control group, and experienced a 6 percent increase in historical empathy. Field trips expose students to diversity of ideas, peoples, places, and time periods, giving them greater appreciation and understanding.
  3. Promotes Hands-On Learning
    • Many students use laptops and tech devices throughout their day. While these devices have their benefits as it relates to learning, it clearly does not allow students a tactile experience. Going on field trips allows students sensory interactions making concepts more memorable.
  4. Increases Student Engagement
    • Students get excited about field trips and the opportunity to experience something new. By going outside of the classroom, students can learn something new and pique their interest in a topic being discussed in class. Have you ever seen a llama in real life? A child may see one for the first time at the pumpkin patch and light their love of animal science right then and there.
Middle school students at The Woods Academy explore the outdoors on a field trip. 

While field trips have their benefits for our young scholars, it has a lasting impact on all individuals. The U.S. Travel Association conducted a study with 400 adults (half of which had taken a field trip in their youth, the other half had not) to determine the importance of field trips in education settings. The study found that regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%), and greater income (12% higher annually). In fact, 89% said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because enriching field trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious, and interested in and out of school.

Students at The Woods Academy had a hands-on learning experience on a field trip.

Being located outside of Washington, DC has its perks for The Woods Academy. Not only do we have access to some of the best museums in the country, we also have expansive outdoor learning opportunities at our fingertips. Faculty take full advantage of this when it comes to planning field trips.

Most recently, our students have gone to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Bretton Woods, Mount Vernon, Butler’s Orchard, Philadelphia, Frederick, Antietam, Gettysburg, Harper’s Ferry, and Imagination Stage. Teachers were asked to answer a few questions about these field trips and why they think they are beneficial to the students. See some of their answers below!

What do you like about field trips?

“Seeing the kids put their knowledge and skills to use in the real world in a way that's fun, engaging, and authentic.” - Kimberly Jibladze, French Teacher

“Connecting a trip to a unit of study. For instance, first grade visits the pumpkin patch as we study pumpkins.” - Kate Fogarty, 1st Grade Teacher

“I have always loved going on field trips. These trips give teachers a chance to see kids learning in a different setting. They allow kids to experience something new whether it is through a connection to the curriculum or just money management when they get to buy their own lunches.” - Megan Mullally, 5th and 6th Grade Science Teacher

“Students have the ability to expand their learning by traveling out of the school environment to participate in hands-on, visual, auditory, and spatial educational activities.” - Christina Phelps, 2nd Grade Teacher

How do field trips extend your learning in the classroom?

“Field Trips have the ability to make the books we read, historical people and places that we study, become special, valuable experiences for our students that can last a lifetime in their minds.” - Kelly Tanzi, Learning Support Coordinator

“Students are using real world experiences as discussion topics for learning.” - Kayleigh Stapleton, Director of Extended Care

“Provide experiences to see and traverse the very places we learn about in the classroom.” - JP Clubbs, 7th and 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher

“Field trips bring what we are learning in the classroom to real life.” - Danielle Shegerian, 1st Grade Teacher

What are other benefits of field trips?

“Fun memories. Builds friendships.” - Cemil Alisbah, 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher

“It helps the students learn how to behave in public as a group without their parents.” - Stephanie Rocco, 3rd Grade Teacher

“Socialization skills, bonding, seeing students in a different venue.” - Randy Bednar, Upper School Religion Teacher

“Learning to behave and dress for the occasion. For example, dress uniform for a theater or casual clothes for an outdoor setting. It helps them feel part of the experience” - Carey Hollensteiner, 4th Grade Teacher

What has been your favorite field trip so far?

“I recently went to Butler's Orchard. The drive through the countryside of upper MoCo once the bus got off I 270 was so beautiful as we approached the orchard.  The air was fresh, the sights and sounds of nature were beautiful.” - Jane Pontius, Lower School Guidance Teacher

Anything else to add?

“Planning field trips provides the opportunity for our students to explore, and go more deeply into the subjects that they are taught in school!  We have so many incredible places right in our own backyard, such as: The National Geographic Museum, The National Art Gallery, Phillips Collection, Smithsonian Educational Research Center, to name a few, that have the power to amplify the curriculum, and excite the lives of our students! Whether planning a field trip near or far, the experiences are rejuvenating and well worth the effort and time!” - Kelly Tanzi, Learning Support Coordinator