The Efficacy of Structured Field Trip Programs for Third Grade Students at the Center of Science and Industry

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The Ohio State University

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Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, schools have seen a shift toward math and reading. Teachers must focus on these subjects so schools can meet their Adequate Yearly Progress, leaving little time for supplemental activities such as field trips. Field trips, however, can connect what students learn in the classroom with real-world experiences that enhance their understanding. The purpose of this study was to examine whether or not structured field trips at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) improved students’ understanding of science concepts. Using a grant from the Ingram-White Castle Foundation, COSI provided transportation and reduced-price admission for third grade students in Columbus Public Schools elementary schools. Pre-visit tests were administered to these students to determine their understandings of force and motion. Force and motion activities were also sent to teachers. After visiting COSI, students took post-visit tests which included the same science-based questions as the pre-visit test. A teacher focus group was also held with four third grade teachers. Although the percentage of fully correct answers increased for two of the three science-based questions, it did decrease for one question. For that same question, the percentage of partially correct answers did increase. Positive attitudes toward science also increased on the post-test and negative attitudes decreased. Teachers from the focus group suggested that staff members lead small groups to teach “big ideas” and that liaisons be available to help teachers plan their field trips. No correlations can be made between student achievement and these field trips because it was not experimental, though it is encouraging that many test scores increased after the visit. More research needs to be done at COSI to determine whether or not the structured field trips and activities provided to the teachers caused the increase in student achievement.



field trip, science museum