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Fun with Field Trips

Field trips are often a school-year highlight for students. You may have fond memories of the enthusiasm created by a trip to your local fire

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Field trips are often a school-year highlight for students. You may have fond memories of the enthusiasm created by a trip to your local fire department or zoo when you were young. You were thrilled to escape the four walls of your classroom and see something new. Why not bring that same passion for learning and excitement into your collegiate courses?

Students will appreciate the change of pace and new learning experiences that field trips can provide. While the thought of the extra work required to arrange a field trip may deter some instructors, the benefits usually far outweigh the costs. As Rohlf (2015) avers, “With careful preparation, field trips can enhance classroom learning and have a long-term impact” (p. 518). Participation in a field trip can be a noteworthy event that strengthens your course content and leaves a lasting memory for your students. And including field trips in your course may be easier than you think.

Not only can field trips add an interesting, atypical element to your course, but they can also provide new firsthand experiences for your students. Classroom theory can be seen in practice, and some field trips may enable students to transfer theory into direct experience.

Field trip options

Field trips come in a wide-ranging variety of options. Friess et al. (2016) suggest using multiple forms of field trips for maximum learning. Here are some field trip alternatives you may wish to consider:

This list of field trip variations is certainly not exhaustive. There are many additional ways you can help your students better experience and understand the discipline you are studying together, but a field trip is an outstanding start.

General guidelines

While each course will be different, here are some general guidelines that may be helpful as you consider how to incorporate field trips into your existing courses:

College instructors should regularly look for new and creative instructional opportunities to include in their courses. With their flexibility, variety, and ease of use, field trips can become an excellent addition to your course. Learning can once again be just as much fun as it was in elementary school.


Friess, D. A., Oliver, G. J. H., Oliver, Quak, M. S. Y., & Lau, A. Y. A. (2016). Incorporating “virtual” and “real world” field trips into introductory geography modules. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(4), 546–564.

Rohlf, G. (2015). How to make field trips fun, educational, and memorable: Balancing self-directed inquiry with structured learning. History Teacher, 48(3), 517–528.

David B. Leitch, PhD, is an associate professor of special education at Cedarville University. After serving as an Air Force officer, he practiced law until earning his doctorate in special education. He previously taught special education in a juvenile correctional facility.

Kenneth L. Alford, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University and a retired U.S. Army Colonel. Previously, he served as a professor of computer science (U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York) and as a department chair and professor of strategic leadership (National Defense University, Washington, DC).