STO rounds up the research to look at the ways in which school trips can have a positive impact on teachers, as well as children.
It’s no secret that teaching children outside of the classroom can have major benefits for pupils. Studies show that educational trips and learning opportunities outside school can improve wellbeing, attainment and peer relationships.
But there’s more to school trips than the children that take them. On every educational visit there’s a team of teachers.
How do school trips impact them?
It’s an area of learning outside the classroom that doesn’t get paid as much lip service as the subject of pupil impact.
However, several research studies have been done in the field, showing positive results. Here are five ways in which taking your children outside the classroom to learn can benefit you.
Between 2012 and 2016, a Natural Connections project, funded by Defra, Natural England, Historic England and delivered by Plymouth University, looked at the impact of outdoor learning on 125 schools in south west England.
Most of the project’s research honed in on the benefits for pupils, but the research also revealed evidence for the positive impact that learning outside the classroom (LOtC) could have on teachers.
At the end of the study, 79 per cent of teachers involved in the project reported that the practice of LOtC had improved their teaching.
One teacher commented: “It has helped me gain confidence in a range of teaching methods and styles. Delivery in the classroom is very methodical.”
Another said: “Teachers are braver to experiment with ideas when they are away from the classroom.”
Between 2009 and 2015 a huge Learning Away project looked into the benefits of curriculum-linked residentials on schools. The findings of this nationwide study tallied with that of Natural Connections.
Learning Away concluded that good LOtC usually encourages teachers to use highly learner-centred teaching practices. Activities and exercises on residential trips were found to involve pupils in planning and decision-making related to their trips.
The study went on to suggest that residentials provide teachers with an opportunity to experiment with pedagogical approaches, and give them the confidence to develop these approaches as part of their day-to-day teaching practice.
Health and wellBeing
In 2013 the Outward Bound Trust conducted a research project into the ways in which teachers benefited from accompanying their pupils on an outward bound course.
A number of professional impacts (explained below) were discovered as a result of the study. However, teachers also reported ways in which they had benefited from the experience on a personal level.
97 per cent of those involved reported that trips had had a positive impact on personal wellbeing. 78 per cent said they felt better physically and mentally from spending time outdoors. 60 per cent said they benefited from being challenged alongside their pupils. 39 per cent said they felt they had benefited from achieving more than they thought they could.
In 2015, the journal Science Education International published a report that linked the prevalence of school trips and educational visits in schools to teacher job satisfaction. The study that formed the basis of the report used qualitative data from interviews with 50 teachers to come to its conclusions.
It reported that, ‘The more schools provided teachers with opportunities such as field trips the more the levels of science teacher job satisfaction increased.’
In the Natural Connections project mentioned above 69 per cent of pupils said they had experienced some sort of professional development as a result of teaching children outside the classroom.
The Outward Bound project, also mentioned above, found the same. Teachers reported that working alongside instructors had allowed them to develop knowledge and skills that would help them to be more effective teachers.
Improved relationships with pupils
As part of the Learning Away project mentioned above 82 per cent of teachers reported that their time spent with pupils on curriculum-linked residentials had a significant or transformative impact on their ability to see the children in a different light.
78 per cent of teachers said they had a better understanding of their students’ strengths and limitations following a residential.
The Outward Bound project found the same, with 82 per cent of teachers admitting that they had seen qualities in their pupils that could not have been demonstrated in a school setting.
One teacher said; "I knew the students quite well before, but I know so much more after being away with them for a week."
For more information about any of the above studies you can visit:
Photo credit: The Sustainability Centre, Hampshire / www.sustainability-centre.org.