If only we could learn about the water cycle by turning into water droplets ourselves or embark on an excursion to Mars to learn more about the Solar System! Wouldn’t that be fun? Well, this was possible in the once popular animated series, The Magic School Bus. The cartoon series, which taught various scientific concepts to children by taking them on fun-filled, fantasy field trips, continues to have a steady fan base till today! Now, not every teacher can be like Miss Frizzle or own a magical school bus that can morph into almost anything under the Sun. However, every teacher has the ability to incorporate elements of experiential learning into his/her curriculum and inspire a similar level of engagement in their learners.
Sophocles, a Greek playwright, once wrote, “ I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand”.
This is a quote that most of us can relate to regardless of age, as it refers to the idea of experiential learning. Also known as experience-based learning or trial and error learning, experiential learning refers to acquiring knowledge from hands-on experiences. Utilising this learning process has long been considered to be effective, making excursions and experiments a mainstay in our academic year.
While experiments have been given an important place in curriculum planning, excursions do not seem to be taken as seriously as their counterparts. Here are 5 reasons as to why you should consider incorporating excursions into your academic year.
1.Excursions provide a break from the usual classroom environment. This is important as not ALL learning can occur in the classroom. Information such as historical events and cultural experiences are more engaging when they are presented with real life examples as compared to classroom presentations. This break from classroom teaching also switches up the pedagogical method, which can be beneficial for the class. This is because different students have different learning styles and those who struggle with classroom instruction can be presented with learning opportunities through such activities.
2. Excursions are more interactive. Most excursions, even those with guided tours, give students the opportunity to explore the environment that they are visiting. This freedom allows students to make their own connections using the information that is being presented to them. Each student comes from a unique background, allowing him or her to experience the same journey, differently. We find this to be true whenever we conduct a reflection/debrief session after our excursions. Students from the same group tend to express their opinions regarding the same content differently. The information retained by each student can also vary, as different students tend to consider different information as being interesting or valuable. Nonetheless, students always manage to learn something new from every excursion!
3. Excursions increase retention of information. Most students tend to better retain the information presented to them in an excursion, due to the high level of interactivity in the programme. For example, we conducted an excursion to a Heritage Centre with a group of 9 year-olds recently. At the end of the trip, which involved a tour as well as a few hands-on activities, we found that the students were able to recall historical facts and figures (e.g. the year that the building was erected) easily! What was more surprising was that more than half the students in the group retained this information!
4. Excursions provide an avenue for application of theoretical knowledge. Most excursions are usually planned around a topic or area of interest from the syllabus. Hence, students get the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge of the matter at hand when they are out on excursions. This also aids in improving knowledge retention.
5. Teachers also benefit from excursions! Excursionsprovide a change of environment for educators as well! It also gives teachers an opportunity to interact with their students in a different way, allowing them to better understand their learners. On top of that, educators also get to engage in the learning experience with their students. This can be refreshing for some teachers, allowing them to come up with interesting teaching ideas. Most teachers we have spoken to, always leave our excursions inspired and their minds buzzing with new ideas and lesson plans!
Images: Students of different academic levels participating in various Learning Journey activities conducted by Brainworks Education.
1. Jensen, E. (2014, 06 10). Netflix Orders New Children's Show based on 'Magic School Bus'. Retrieved 05 15, 2015, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/business/media/netflix-orders-new-childrens-show-based-on-magic-school-bus.html?emc=edit_tnt_20140610&nlid=39945777&tntemail0=y&_r=3
2. Stradeski, L.-A. (2011, 05 03). Why children need school field trips. Retrieved 05 03, 2015, from Eureka! Experts Blog: http://experts.eureka.org.uk/2011/05/03/why-children-need-school-field-trips/
3. Gentry, J. W. What is Experiential Learning? . In A. f. Learning, & J. W. Gentry (Ed.), Guide to Business Gaming and Experiential Learning. Michigan: The University of Michigan.
4. Jay P. Greene, B. K. (2014). The Educational Value of Field Trips. Education Next , 14 (1), 79-86.
Since excursions are packed with so much goodness, it is important to plan them carefully. This can be time consuming as you will have to ensure that the excursion has a clear rationale, plan the trip, coordinate with the personnel at the site and conduct various other pre-trip preparations.
You can safe yourself this hassle and experience a well-planned excursion if you contact Brainworks Education for your experiential learning needs. We conduct several effective and interactive Learning Journey programmes for various age groups.
Contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!