and Olstad, 1991; Orion and Hofstein, 1994). Such preparation has been linked to students spending more time interacting with exhibits (Kubota and Olstad, 1991) and learning from their visits (Orion and Hofstein, 1994). Studies have shown, however, that teachers spend very little time preparing students for field trips (Anderson, Kisiel, and Storksdieck, 2006; Griffin, 1994; Griffin and Symington, 1997).
Active Participation in Museum Activities
A review of over 200 evaluations of field trips to informal institutions (Price and Hein, 1991) indicates that effective ones include both hands-on activities and time for more structured instruction (e.g., viewing films, listening to presentations, participating in discussions with facilitators and peers). In general, children who were able to handle materials, engage in science activities, and observe animals or objects were excited about and enjoyed their field trip experience and displayed cooperative learning strategies. Similarly, Koran and colleague’s review of earlier field trip studies—from 1939 to 1989—revealed that hands-on involvement with exhibits results in more changes in attitudes and interest than passive experiences (1989). At the same time, Griffin and Symington (1997) argued for the inclusion of structured activities to help keep students engaged throughout their field trip experience. Observing 30 unstructured classroom visits to museums, they noted that very few students continued purposefully exploring the museum after the first half hour of hands-on activities. Instead, most students were observed talking in the coffee shop, sitting on gallery benches, copying each other’s worksheets, or moving quickly from exhibit to exhibit.
Involvement by Teachers and Chaperones
Classroom teacher involvement is a key ingredient to successful field trips, yet studies have consistently found that teachers often play a very small role or no role in the planning or execution of excursions and that institution staff are responsible for connecting exhibits to classroom content (Anderson and Zhang, 2003; Griffin, 1994; Griffin and Symington, 1997; Tal, Bamberger, and Morag, 2005).
There is wide variation in the amount and level of teacher involvement