Effectiveness of web-based pre-cuing on the cognitive achievement and attitudes of fourth and fifth grade pupils participating in a field trip to a public garden

Pieper, Jonathan
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Creating effective learning experiences with limited educational resources has caused educators to attempt to maximize the value of field trips. A common problem associated with field trips is an anxiety felt by students in new surroundings that can adversely affect their learning. Pre-visit activities prior to a field trip increase attentiveness and learning of students. In some instances, garden staff or teachers inform students about an upcoming field trip by lecturing about the destination or by engaging students in activities relating to the trip. Unfortunately, school budgets and time necessary for such pre-visit activities are not always available. The use of web-based pre-visits prior to field trips may be a more effective learning tool. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of traditional and web-based pre-visit activities on the learning and attitudes of fourth and fifth graders following a field trip to a public garden. Each class was divided in half and assigned to one of the pre-visit treatments. Three forms of assessments were used to measure the students' perceptions and learning. First, observations made during the field trip. Second, twelve close-ended (Likert scale) questions were used to evaluate attitudinal responses the day following the field trip. Third, seven open-ended questions were used to evaluate cognitive responses one week after the field trip. Results indicate that web-based pre-visit treatments significantly increased cognitive scores in students compared to the traditional pre-visit treatment. Two advantages to the web-based pre-visit were 1) self-directed learning and 2) access to more visuals and information. There was a significant difference found in attitudinal responses between treatments involving only one question out of twelve, favoring the traditional pre-visit treatment. The overall attitudes of students in both treatments were characterized by a willingness to learn and enjoy the field trip. This research can benefit public gardens by providing garden staff with another avenue of access to school visitors and by aiding school educators in creating suitable curricula.