"Gone the Way of the DoDo:
The Decrease in Enriching Field Trips"
Your Questions from the Webinar
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These questions were asked by attendees of the “Gone the Way of the Dodo: The Decrease in Enriching Field Trips” webinar that took place on February 5, 2014. The presenters, Brian Kisida, Mary Ann Wojton, and Al Onkka, have provide the answers below. You can view the recording of the webinar here: vimeo.com/85959775
Q: What was different about the experience of the treatment group? Did they receive a facilitated program?
A: The treatment group received a facilitated program, and the control group received no museum visit (until after completion of the study).
Q: What is an example of problem finding?
A: A response was coded as “problem finding” if the student made a comment that identified or asked for information that would be necessary in order to draw conclusions about the painting. The full rubric can be found at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s website, where it was initially developed.
Q: What was the age range for the field trips?
A: Students ranged from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Most were in grades 4-6.
Q: How much time was there between the students' visit and when they answered questions about the paintings they saw?
A: They were surveyed on average 3 weeks after the treatment groups visited the museum.
Q: Was the visit more likely to create return visitation or was the coupon for free family entry more likely?
A: To be clear, coupon use was our behavioral measure of return visitation generated by the tour. The coupons were coded so we could identify if they were used by members of the treatment group or the control group.
Q: Am I understanding the study correctly, the treatment group's responses are with a visit and the control group did not visit?
A: Yes. However, some members of both the treatment group and control group had also visited the museum with their families (roughly 30% of students in the sample). In the context of program evaluation, this is acceptable, as it represents real-world conditions in the absence of the tour the treatment group received.
Q: Did teachers follow up on the visits in class? This would affect recall of visit themes.
A: On average, teachers reported modest use of the follow-up materials -- about an hour of class time.
Q: Did you account for teacher preparation for the Crystal Bridges trips? Did they embed in curriculum? Did that make a difference?
A: On average, teachers reported modest use of the pre- materials -- about an hour of class time. We do plan on taking a look at the data to determine if students who received more or less prep and follow-up had differential effects. This is difficult to determine, however, as the amount of class time spent preparing is non-random.
Q: Where did under-served schools receive funding for transportation? We offer free time in the museum, however transportation is a challenge.
A: Luckily, Crystal Bridges has an endowment that covers the cost of the tours, including funds to reimburse schools for the cost of transportation.
Q: Are the field trips you are providing inquiry based or lecture based?
A: The tours are largely constructivist. The main goal of the museum educators is to facilitate student-driven discussions. The educators provide minimal information about the paintings.
Q: Was there a correlation between school size and group size? How might this effect your interpretation?
A: I haven’t looked at this specifically. However, large groups were split into smaller groups when actually visiting the museum, so the tour experience was largely the same.
Mary Ann Wojton
Q: How do you relay standard-aligned program options to the teachers/administrators? Does anyone go as far as to customize programming for each school group?
A: COSI programs are aligned to Ohio and National science standards. Teachers and administrators can find those details on the COSI website on the educator pages. COSI does not customize programming for each school group. Several years ago we did offer custom programs as an option, but it was not chosen (possibly due to the cost) and it was discontinued.
Q: Can you share the survey you send to teachers with other Museums? I would love to compare it to ours.
A: If you are interested in a copy of one of our questionnaires for teachers, please e-mail me at email@example.com
[note: If you have further questions, you can reach Al at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Q: Can you provide more details about the Big Weather Expeience (BWX)?
A: BWX consists of an IMAX movie about tornados, a 20-minute stage presentation about the science of weather, and free time in the weather portion of our general exhibits. All of our field trips are self-guided, however the BWX does have an exciting stage presentation that is lead by a staff member. The weather exhibits are on our floor all the time. We are able to show the movie and do the stage presentation during any season. We do limit the dates of this field trip and try to use it to drive attendance in our off seasons. We don’t offer it all the time. We recommended BWX for 3rd through 8th grade and the cost was $12 per student (chaperones are free). If a school was 50% or greater free and reduced lunch, they paid $5 per student. This is the same as our price for general exhibits + Omnitheater (i.e. our “regular” field trip). You can find more Big Weather Experience field trip information at www.smm.org/weather and more about our other field trips at www.smm.org/fieldtrips
Q: Are the BWX field trips led by Museum staff or docents? If the latter, can you briefly speak about using docents. Most smaller institutions rely on docents to deliver high volume programs.
A: This is a great question. We do not do this for practical and financial reasons, but my impression from our evaluations is that teachers really like a personal connection to museum staff. In surveys, teachers always mention our staff member who did the stage presentation. So institutions that use docents or staff to lead field trips have the opportunity to create this important personal connection with teachers and students. However, in another field trip evaluation I did in partnership with an art museum, the docents were the most volatile feature of the field trip. Teachers either loved their docent or disliked them. Many teachers cited poor docents as a weakness of the field trip. So docent consistency and quality is important in delivering programs to school groups. Docents can “make or break” a field trip.
Q: How many teachers were surveyed for BWX?
A: We sent two short surveys to all teachers who booked BWX. The first survey was about why they booked the field trip and was sent right after they booked (the next day if possible). We sent 94 surveys out and received 50 back (53% response rate). We sent another short survey to teachers very soon after they attended BWX and received a 56% response rate.
Q: Do the teachers that do BMX come multiple times per year for other field trips?
A: Great question. The short answer is that we don’t really know, but we suspect not. Our ticketing software makes it difficult to track individual teachers (something we are working to fix) Generally, teachers who come back to the museum again in the same year are part of a specific program where repeat attendance is built in and often funded for them.
Q: You mentioned to improve field trips, your institution worked across the departments. Which departments? What role did they play in the participation? How did you get buy in from those departments, when all our plates are full? All are already over taxed.
A: As I said in the presentation, we created an internal “school network” at the museum. This network was really the most important thing we did to improve field trips. Field trips at the museum didn’t really live in any department or have any one person in charge. To fix this we convened a regular meeting with people from education, marketing, development, evaluation, exhibits, and our teacher professional development staff - really all the people who work with schools in some way. It is hard to get buy-in and time from all the departments, but museum leadership emphasized that field trips could no longer be taken for granted and that they are an important source of attendance and revenue that we must pay attention to. We had growing pains early on, but slowly have identified ways we can work together to improve and drive field trips as a museum. A big cultural shift has been to get people to think about field trips as a “program” that needs development and not just as “attendance.”
Q: Did positive field trip experiences also open the door for museum educators to provide programming at the schools if bus subsidies were no longer available?
A: MAW- COSI has a robust outreach program which has traveled throughout the state of Ohio and surrounding states for over 25 years. I do know, as the past Outreach Director, many schools find outreach programs cost effective when considering the cost of field trip admission and buses.
BK- Following our research, which showed that rural students benefit a lot from the tours, Crystal Bridges is developing a distance-learning program to reach students in remote areas via technology.
Q: Did any museum have a teacher advisory group - or identified any teacher ambassadors/champions who advocated field trips within their networks?
A: MAW- COSI has a teacher advisory board that meets with the education team and advises COSI on our education efforts. These teachers also assist with grassroots marketing among their colleagues.
BK- Crystal Bridges worked with a teacher advisory group to develop and pilot their student tours.
Q: Of all three institutions how many are instructed programs versus self guided?
A: MAW- The majority of COSI field trips are self-guided. We offer field trip workshops and programs to provide more structure. COSI’s field trip guide can be found at our website, cosi.org/downloads/catalogs/2013-2014EducatorCatalog.pdf.
BK- Crystal Bridges provided student-driven tours facilitated by museum educators. Groups are encourages to schedule additional free time at the museum if their schedule permits.