A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.
The decision to reduce culturally enriching field trips reflects a variety of factors.
Crystal Bridges reimburses schools for the cost of buses, provides free admission and lunch, and even pays for the cost of substitute teachers to cover for teachers who accompany students on the tour.
Because the tour is completely free to schools, and because Crystal Bridges was built in an area that never previously had an art museum, there was high demand for school tours.
In a 2012‒13 survey we conducted of nearly 500 Arkansas teachers, those who had been teaching for at least 15 years were significantly more likely to believe that the primary purpose of a field trip is to provide a learning opportunity, while more junior teachers were more likely to see the primary purpose as “enjoyment.” If schools are de-emphasizing culturally enriching field trips, has anything been lost as a result?
Surprisingly, we have relatively little rigorous evidence about how field trips affect students.Finally, we collected a behavioral measure of interest in art consumption by providing all students with a coded coupon good for free family admission to a special exhibit at the museum to see whether the field trip increased the likelihood of students making future visits.All results reported below are derived from regression models that control for student grade level and gender and make comparisons within each matched pair, while taking into account the fact that students in the matched pair of applicant groups are likely to be similar in ways that we are unable to observe.Schools take students to amusement parks, sporting events, and movie theaters instead of to museums and historical sites.This shift from “enrichment” to “reward” field trips is reflected in a generational change among teachers about the purposes of these outings.During the first two semesters of the school tour program, the museum received 525 applications from school groups representing 38,347 students in kindergarten through grade 12.We created matched pairs among the applicant groups based on similarity in grade level and other demographic factors.The school field trip has a long history in American public education.For decades, students have piled into yellow buses to visit a variety of cultural institutions, including art, natural history, and science museums, as well as theaters, zoos, and historical sites.Within each pair, we randomly assigned which applicant would be in the treatment group and receive a tour that semester and which would be in the control group and have its tour deferred.We administered surveys to 10,912 students and 489 teachers at 123 different schools three weeks, on average, after the treatment group received its tour.