teaching strategies

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 department or zoo when you were young. You were thrilled to escape the four walls of your classroom and see

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Strategies for Using Flipgrid to Engage Students

Flipgrid is becoming increasingly popular for use in the classroom due to its interactive nature and similarity to widely used social media platforms. Faculty first create groups or classes on the site for students to join. They then create topic cards that provide prompts to

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Don’t Think Twice: The Power of Spontaneity in Teaching

Imagine this: You have just given instructions for the day’s class activity, designed to test a theory chronicled in the previous week’s readings. But the proposed assignment doesn’t land the way you anticipated. One courageous student challenges the purpose and relevance of the assignment in

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Storytelling: A Valuable Teaching Tool

About seven years ago I wrote a blog post about a family meltdown. My manually dexterous and spatially oriented engineer spouse was trying to tell me and my not mentally gifted brother how to tie a load of boards on a cart. From his tractor

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Three students working on a group exam on a laptop

Collaborative Testing Improves Higher-Order Thinking

Most faculty don’t respond enthusiastically to the idea of students doing exam or quiz work together in groups. Nonetheless, the approach is widely used, and the research continues to show significant benefits. Innovative design features like those in the study below answer many faculty objections.

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Professor does equations with his students on a whiteboard

Will the Same Approach Get You the Same Results?

Implementation fidelity—it’s another of those academically impressive descriptions that isn’t nearly as profound as it sounds. It relates to whether a strategy or approach is being implemented as it was originally designed and used. Most often it refers to replicating research, but it has important

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Teachers Intentions: Not Always Clear to Students

Teachers’ Intentions: Not Always Clear to Students

Almost 70 percent of students in 10 sections of an introductory biology course reported that the instructor provided a justification for using active learning in the course. That’s encouraging. Students need to know the rationale behind what we ask them to do in the course.

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Missed Deadlines and Due Dates

Missed Deadlines and Due Dates

Some students are habitual offenders while others never miss a deadline. So, what’s the best way to deal with late assignments, missed exams, and other deadline delinquencies? A tough hardnosed policy with consequences or something a bit more responsive to busy schedules and complicated lives?

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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. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2016.1174818

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. https://www.societyforhistoryeducation.org/pdfs/M15_Rohlf.pdf

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).