SIP 2.9 On-Campus Field Trips

Thirsty for Strong Instructional Practice?

Photo of 9th street park on the Auraria campus in downtown Denver. A long stretch of green grass lined by large green trees and historic buildings.We all know that experiential learning has great impact on our students – learning can, and should, happen everywhere. But valuable learning experiences outside the classroom are not easy to plan, execute, and follow up on – what to do?

Take a SIP of This: On-Campus Field Trips

Let the whole campus be your classroom! Despite the challenges, a carefully planned and integrated on-campus field trip offers tremendous learning potential for all students. As a means of offering students multiple means of engagement and representation of your content, consider getting out of the classroom and taking advantage of all our campus and location have to offer. Admittedly, meeting students outside of the regular class meeting time can be logistically challenging and sometimes costly. So rather than traveling to distant destinations, consider an on-campus destination that is close enough to walk to (and from) in the 75 minute meeting period.*

There are many potentially educational destinations on or around campus. For example, 9th Street is a super place to discuss just about any dimension of the history of Auraria. There you will find Casa Maya, St. Cajentan’s and the Golda Meir House. Also right on campus, the Tivoli has a colorful history as well as contemporary uses – including fully function brewery and pub! Additionally our campus is home to several art displays, including the Emanuel Gallery which is housed in Denver’s oldest standing religious structure (it’s been a church and synagogue). Nearby, we find the Pepsi Center which offers walking tours, as well as, Larimer Square that offers an obvious history lesson, and is also a stop on a walking tour of Denver’s Beat Legacy. In addition to the obvious lessons in history, lessons in sociology, anthropology, literature, art history, architecture, urban planning, civil engineering, education, and more might be facilitated through an on-campus/local walking field trip. Really the possibilities are limited only by imagination and preparation!

Here is an example of how to effectively incorporate on-campus field trips, taken from an Environmental Sociology class. After discussing the reciprocal relationship between society and nature in class, students head off to Cherry Creek. Here they start by simply making observations that illustrate the influence of nature (Cherry Creek in this case) on our community, and our community. Inspired by the real-life setting, students never disappoint with their creativity and imagination in this exercise in divergent thinking. To allow for multiple means of expression, students next identify a “socio-environmental problem” (a prominent topic in the curriculum) involving Cherry Creek, and then choose an additional “field-trip follow up assignment” from a list of assignments that include:

  • Write about the State and local organizations that are responsible for the management of Cherry Creek and what they are doing (or should be doing) to address the identified problem.
  • Working within the given resources of a specific, concrete organization, plan a response to the identified problem
  • Create a photo essay and/or video that detail the identified problem and/or documents efforts to address the problem.
  • Create a scavenger hunt of artifacts that serve as evidence of the identified problem

Practical considerations include:

  • To stimulate students’ interest in the trip, introduce the trip as a part of a lesson
  • Prepare students with a pre-trip “staging period” (usually the class meeting prior to the trip).
  • Discuss your expectations for learning and behavior. For example, the aforementioned “follow-up assignments” are previewed in class, and students should have a tentative idea of which they plan to complete before going to the creek.
  • Depending on their chosen “follow up assignment”, students should bring …
  1. Hard surface like a clipboard for note-taking or sketching
  2. Container (zip-lock bag, grocery bag, etc.) for collecting artifacts
  3. Recording device like pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and paper; handheld devices; laptops; cameras, video cameras or digital cameras; and a tape recorder.

Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of On-Campus Field Trips

For additional resources and support in planning field trips …

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