Research shows that students are likely to experience novelty (unfamiliarity) at field trip locations, resulting in extended, unproductive disorientation and inhibition of learning. Carefully-planned preparatory units, delivered prior to the field trip experience, have been shown to mitigate the negative effects of novelty. Anonymous online surveys and written responses to critical thinking questions were used to assess the effect of full (comprehensive) pre-field trip preparatory units on measures potentially influenced by novelty during a 25-day college study abroad program. Survey responses indicate that full preparatory units did not significantly affect student perception of readiness or location familiarity. While few statistically-significant differences were detected, data suggests that full preparatory units probably enhanced student satisfaction with the field trip experience and fostered better performance on critical thinking assessments. These findings support the conclusion that full preparatory units were, on the whole, more beneficial to learning during study abroad field trips than were minimal preparatory units. Findings also suggest that college students may not suffer the negative effects of novelty as intensely as younger students and that the physical size and complexity of the field trip location may reduce student confidence in navigating the location and slow student completion of on-location tasks.
Otten, M. R. M. (2018). Effectiveness of Full (Comprehensive) Preparatory Units for College Study Abroad Field Trips. Journal of Education and Learning, 7(4), 40. https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v7n4p40