Are Study Trips Really Useful?? Yes! Here’s why.
As trainee teachers, we learn about the concept of inclusivity, which is a bit of a buzz word in modern day education. It involves the method of teaching each of your students with consideration of their individual style of learning.
So what is a style of learning, and why is it important to mix these styles in education? Well, first let’s look at some of the theory. An interesting idea to consider is Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1984). Gardener, who was a professor of Education at Harvard University, states that individuals have a way of processing information and learning about the world around them which can be one (or sometimes more) of the following:
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
- Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
By recognising the intelligence style of individual students, the learning process can be more productive, constructive and engaging for the learner. It can unlock the full potential of the student. Although Gardener’s theory wasn’t developed completely with education in mind, many other theorists have adapted his idea for direct use in education, such as David Kolb who we will discuss later. Many teachers consider these ideas in their teaching methods.
As a rough figure, and using the three most thought about styles, we can say that approximately 65% of the population learns visually, responding well to visual cues such as pictures, notes and diagrams, approximately 30% tends to retain information after hearing it, and 5% learn best through touch or imitation (www.lssu.edu). It may be interesting for you to find out what your learning style is through an online quiz. The important thing is to mix these styles, as we all need different stimuli in order to learn in the best possible way. If you thought that staying indoors reading your boring grammar book was the best way to study, then think again! It’s true that this method may work well for you, especially if you are a visual learner, but by incorporating learning styles, you have the possibility to maximise your learning, maybe even in a way that would surprise you.
So here is where we start to talk about study trips and why they are such an important part of our programme in Bangor. During class time, we, the teachers, carefully incorporate grammar, listening, comprehension and communication into the morning lessons. The afternoon study trips give us the opportunity to teach you in a whole other way – through experiencing the world around you. Back to some theory, David Kolb (1984) stated that the concept of experiential learning is incredibly important as it emphasises the central role that experience plays in the learning process. If you see and experience something, you are likely to remember it, especially if there is a story or memory connected to it. Imagine, we are walking as a study group along a beach and we notice that the sea is far from the shore at the moment. Someone asks, “How do you say in English when the sea moves away from the land at certain times during the day?” And there we have it, the tide. It comes in and goes out every day. “At the moment the tide is out”, your teacher will explain. You will remember this because not only have we seen it and discovered the terminology for it, but we could have also had a joke about it (“I hope the tide doesn’t come in and trap us here when we are returning along the beach!!”). For us, study trips are about forming stories and memories for you around the new vocabulary so you will remember it in the future. The new vocabulary and expressions are reinforced after the trip as we have our coffees or beers before going home. Study trips also give us the chance to chat to students in an informal way, and this improves your confidence and fluency too.
So if you are ever wondering why we encourage our students to take part in study trips, remember the theory behind it. We are incorporating different learning styles to maximise your own potential for learning English. We know it works, so try it with an open mind. I’m positive that you will be surprised by the results.
Gardner, Howard (1983): Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic.
Gardner, Howard (1993): Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic.
Kolb, David (1984). Experiential Learning as the Science of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.