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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 41 No. 1, p. 54-58
     
    Received: Aug 17, 2011


    * Corresponding author(s): john.galbraith@vt.edu
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doi:10.4195/jnrlse.2011.0023u

Using Student Competition Field Trips to Increase Teaching and Learning Effectiveness

  1. John M. Galbraith *
  1. Virginia Tech, 239 Smyth Hall (0404), Blacksburg, VA 24061

Abstract

Teaching and learning effectiveness may be enhanced in small-class settings where teachers can tailor materials and methods to individuals. Preparing students ahead of time for a week-long field trip to a new area that involves student-centered learning and a competition to promote student engagement should offer educational advantages. This article presents the results of a poll of teachers who coached students during a week-long soil judging contest field trip. The perspective on learning effectiveness is often asked of students rather than teachers. Five questions were asked and representative answers presented and discussed. The answers of the teacher–coaches were compared with previous literature on the effectiveness of outdoor field trip teaching. The poll results agree that student engagement is related to the combination of an extended field trip to a new resource area with a single subject of focus, practice of professional trade skills, new social interactions, and a contest at the end of the trip. The teacher–coaches enjoyed their opportunity to gain knowledge of subjects they teach from local experts and share social and professional interactions. The responses are important because they lend new perspectives to teaching and coaching not reported in the literature, and explain some educational advantages for outdoor field trip contest activities. Future studies to determine the long-term knowledge gain and retention from such an activity as contrasted with conventional field trips and classroom instruction alone are needed.

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