Teachers' reasons for including field trips in the curriculum.

Date
2014-06-11
Authors
Shrock, Danielle Lea.
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Abstract

This dissertation examined the reasons' elementary teachers included field trips in the curriculum, whether increasing cultural capital, as defined by Pierre Bourdieu (1973), was one of their primary reasons, what types of field trips teachers included in the curriculum, and what discouraged teachers from including field trips in the curriculum. There is an existing achievement gap between Asian and White and Black and Hispanic students and studies have shown poverty is a primary cause of this gap. One aspect of poverty is not participating in out-of-school learning activities, such as visiting zoos, museums, or libraries, which contributes to cultural capital. Field trips are one way to increase cultural capital. This dissertation used Bourdieu's theory of cultural capital as the theoretical framework, and was a collective, multi-site case study using a constant comparative method for a cross case analysis. Three public school districts in Oklahoma, and three schools within each of those districts were used as sites for this study. Questionnaires were given to approximately 237 elementary teachers, and 88 were returned. Follow-up interviews were done with two teachers from each school, and relevant documentation related to field trips was collected from school and district websites. The findings indicated teachers included field trips in the curriculum for many reasons, for both affective and cognitive gains. Teachers took students on trips that were both fun and educational—they chose places that covered skills and were popular attractions. Most places teachers took students on field trips favored science and history topics. Cost, timing associated with testing, and transportation discouraged teachers from taking field trips. Teachers did want to provide students with new experiences, but were unaware of the research on cultural capital. Recommendations included educating teachers about the latest research on cultural capital, providing bigger field trip budgets or concentrating resources to make a bigger impact, taking field trips throughout the year, especially before testing to truly connect with curriculum, and exploring more virtual or alternative field trips.

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Keywords
Field trips., Teacher's rationales., Cultural capital., Achievement gap., Pierre Bourdieux.
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