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Study: Class Field Trips Help Kids Do Better in School

The Short of It

With more pressure for their students to perform academically, schools are cutting out the notion of the field trip. But kids stand to lose more than just a change of pace.

The Lowdown

Across the country, field trips are hitting classrooms' cutting room floors, according to The Atlantic.

Why? Because increasingly, value is being placed on standardized test scores. So kids need more time in the classroom to practice their math and verbal skills, not attending a theater performance; at least that is the thinking of some educators.

But new research pushes back at the notion that field trips provide less value to kids than the traditional curriculum. Jay Greene, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, studied 670 students, divided into two groups: those who saw a live theater production of "Hamlet" or "A Christmas Carol," and those who only read texts or watched film versions of the classic tales.

Greene claims the students who were introduced to the live production better understood the material and scored higher on tests. Meanwhile, the kids who watched the movie and read the texts were less engaged in how characters felt, didn't gain the same comprehension of the plot, and lost the meaning in associated vocabulary words.

The professor hopes to replicate his experiment in a more diverse urban area soon.

The Upshot

So it seems a field trip provides value to students in different ways, ways a blackboard and a book simply can't. And as Greene points out, being exposed to culturally enriching experiences benefits people in unquantifiable ways as well—possibly for life.

If we don't let our kids learn in more than one way, we may never know what they are truly capable of. After all, don't we send our kids to school not only to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, but also to develop as people?

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