Crystal Bridges is the first major art museum to be built in the United States in the last four decades, with more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space and an endowment in excess of $800 million.
Portions of the museum’s endowment are devoted to covering all of the expenses associated with school tours.
During the first two semesters of the school tour program, the museum received 525 applications from school groups representing 38,347 students in kindergarten through grade 12.
We created matched pairs among the applicant groups based on similarity in grade level and other demographic factors.
Financial pressures force schools to make difficult decisions about how to allocate scarce resources, and field trips are increasingly seen as an unnecessary frill.
Greater focus on raising student performance on math and reading standardized tests may also lead schools to cut field trips.In a 2012‒13 survey we conducted of nearly 500 Arkansas teachers, those who had been teaching for at least 15 years were significantly more likely to believe that the primary purpose of a field trip is to provide a learning opportunity, while more junior teachers were more likely to see the primary purpose as “enjoyment.” If schools are de-emphasizing culturally enriching field trips, has anything been lost as a result?Surprisingly, we have relatively little rigorous evidence about how field trips affect students.Schools gladly endured the expense and disruption of providing field trips because they saw these experiences as central to their educational mission: schools exist not only to provide economically useful skills in numeracy and literacy, but also to produce civilized young men and women who would appreciate the arts and culture.More-advantaged families may take their children to these cultural institutions outside of school hours, but less-advantaged students are less likely to have these experiences if schools do not provide them.Standard validity tests confirmed that the survey items employed to generate the various scales used as outcomes measured the same underlying constructs. Students received a one-hour tour of the museum in which they typically viewed and discussed five paintings.Some students were free to roam the museum following their formal tour, but the entire experience usually involved less than half a day.The student surveys included multiple items assessing knowledge about art as well as measures of critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and sustained interest in visiting art museums.Some groups were surveyed as late as eight weeks after the tour, but it was not possible to collect data after longer periods because each control group was guaranteed a tour during the following semester as a reward for its cooperation.A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.The decision to reduce culturally enriching field trips reflects a variety of factors.