School field trips are on the decline in American education for many reasons. Schools are making tough choices about how to spend scarce resources, are spending more time in class preparing for high-stakes tests and have begun using field trips as rewards for doing well on those tests. Whereas school field trips used to mean a trip to an art or history museum, now they are more likely to be an amusement park, movie or athletic event.
Researchers at the University of Arkansas have conducted a large randomized-control trial on what students learn from art museums. The report’s authors Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen write:
“We find that students learn quite a lot. In particular, enriching field trips contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women who possess more knowledge about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.”