Experiential Learning: the field study trip, a student-centred curriculum.


  • Laurence Pattacini University of Sheffield




experiential learning, active learning, student-centred, co-learning, field study trip


Drawing from student-centered learning theories, this paper identifies key issues related to active participation of students, collaboration and independent learning. It draws from the author’s experience of developing and delivering a student-centered curriculum delivered around a field study trip. It explores approaches to active and experiential learning in Higher Education through the various stages of the curriculum development and the identification of the pedagogical benefits. The student-centered curriculum is part of a professional accredited course in Landscape architecture. The Field study trip is an opportunity to actively explore the topics of study in real settings and to learn through hands on experience, which is essential to form professionals confronted with making places through planning and design. More generally the field study trip module is an opportunity to understand how to practically embed experiential learning approaches in Higher Education.  The paper also discusses the merits of field trip to address some issues related to the learning experience and participation in the context of the internationalisation of the students’ cohort.

Author Biography

Laurence Pattacini, University of Sheffield

University TeacherDepartment of Landscape


Barrett, T. (2010) ‘The problem-based learning process as finding and being in flow.’ Innovations in Education and Teaching International 47, 165-17. Available at: https://doi-org.sheffield.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/14703291003718901 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Blessinger, P. and Carfora, J.M. (2014) ‘Innovative Approaches in Teaching and Learning: An introduction to inquiry-based learning for the arts, humanities, and social sciences.’ In: Blessinger, P. and Carfora, J.M. (eds.)

Inquiry-Based Learning for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences: A Conceptual and Practical Resource for Educators (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Volume 2). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 3-25. ISBN 1-78441-236-8.

Bishop, J.L. and Verleger, M.A. (2013) ‘The flipped classroom: A survey of the research.’ ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA 30(9), 1-18. Available at:

https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/20/papers/6219/view (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Bonwell, C.C. and Eison, J.A. (1991) Active Learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 1-878380-08-7.

Brandes, D. and Ginnis, P. (1986) A Guide to Student-

Centred Learning. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0631149333.

Brown, R.D., Hallet, M.E. and Stoltz, R.R. (1994) ‘Student learning styles in landscape architecture education.’ Landscape and Urban Planning, 30(3), 151-157. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/0169-2046(94)90054-X (Accessed:10 November 2018).

Brown Wright, G. (2011) ‘Student-centred learning in higher education.’ International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23, 92-97. Available at: http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE834.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Dewey, J. (1938) Experience and Education. New York: Collier Books. ISBN 0-684-83828-1.

Falchikov, N. (2007) ‘The place of peers in learning and assessment.’ In: Boud, D. and Falchikov, N. (eds.) Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education. Abingdon: Routledge, 128-144. ISBN 0-203-96430-6.

Fenwick, T.J. (2003) Learning Through Experience: Troubling orthodoxies and intersecting questions. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1575241968.

Falk, J. and Direking, L. (1997) ‘School field trips: Assessing their long-term impact.’ Curator, 40, 211-218. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.2151-6952.1997.tb01304.x (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Forde, C., Reeves, J. and McMahon, M. (2009) Putting Together Professional Portfolios. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd. ISBN 9781412946704

Freire, M. (2012). Are study trips a leisure time for students and teachers? In I. Dymitryszyn, M. Kaczynska & G. Maksymiuk (Eds.). Peer Reviewed Proceedings of ECLAS 2012 Conference ‘The power of landscape’, University of Life Sciences - SGGW, Warsaw, Poland, 19-22 September, 2012, pp. 474-477. ISBN 978-83-935884-0-4.

Gibbs, G. (1981) Teaching Students to Learn: A student-centred approach.Milton Keynes: Open University. ISBN 0335100430.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Further Education Unit. ISBN 1853380717.

Hope, M. (2009) ‘The importance of direct experience: A Philosophical defence of fieldwork in human.’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33(2),169 -182. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03098260802276698 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Healey, M. and Jenkins, A. (2000) ‘Kolb’s experiential learning theory and its application in geography in higher education’. Journal of Geography 99,185-195. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00221340008978967 (Accessed: 10 November 2010).

Hmelo-Silver, C.E., Golan Duncan, R. and Chinn, C.A. (2007) ‘Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark.’ Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99-107. Available at: http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/hmelo_ep07.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Kent, M., Gilbertson, D. and Hunt, C. (1997) ‘Fieldwork in geography teaching: a critical review of the literature and approaches.’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 2,10-11. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03098269708725439url (Accessed:10 November 2018).

Kolb, D.A., Boyatzis, R.E. and Mainemelis, C. (2000) ‘Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions.’ In: Sternberg, R.J. and Zhang, L.F. (eds.)

Perspectives on Cognitive, Learning and Thinking styles. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 227-247. ISBN 9780805834314.

Kraft, R. (1990) ‘Experiential learning.’ In: Miles, J.C. and Priest, S. (eds.) Adventure Education. State College, PA: Venture, 175-183. ISBN 09780910251396.

Kuhn, S. (2001) ‘Learning from the architecture studio: Implications for project-based pedagogy.’ International Journal of Engineering Education, 17(4 and 5), 349-352. Available at: https://www.scirp.org/(S(czeh2tfqyw2orz553k1w0r45))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=1132181 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Laurillard, D. (2012) Teaching as a Design Science. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-12508-3.

Maudsley, G. and Strivens, J. (2000) ‘Promoting professional knowledge, experiential learning and critical thinking for medical students.’ Medical Education, 34, 535-544. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2923.2000.00632.x (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Merriam, S.B. (2001) ‘Andragogy and Self-Directed Learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 89, 3-14. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ace.3 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Mezirow, J. (2000) Learning as Transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-0787948450.

Miller Beyer, A. (2011) ‘Improving student presentations: Pecha Kucha and just plain powerpoint.’ Teaching of Psychology, 38(2), 122-126. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0098628311401588 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Mokhtaria, L. (2015) ‘The use of portfolio as an assessment tool.’ International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research, 4(7), 170-172. Available at:www.ijstr.org/final-print/july2015/The-Use-Of-Portfolio-As-An-Assessment-Tool.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Myers, B. and Jones, L. (2009) Effective use of field trips in educational programming: A three stage approach. Available at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/WC/WC05400.pdf (Accessed: 10 January 2017).

Nadelson, L. and Jordan, R. (2012) ‘Student Attitudes Toward and Recall of Outside Day: An environmental science field trip.’ The Journal of Educational Research, 105(3). Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00220671.2011.576715?src=recsys (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Owen, C. (2006) ‘Design thinking: notes on its nature and use.’ Design Research Quarterly, 1(2), 16-27. Available at: https://www.id.iit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Design-thinking-notes-on-its-nature-and-use-owen_desthink071.pdf (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Prince, M. (2004) ‘Does active learning work? A review of the research.’ Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2004.tb00809.x (Accessed: 10 November 2018).

Rishbeth, C. (2007) Field trips: teaching and learning on the outside. Med dissertation, University of Sheffield, UK.

Slavich, G.M. and Zimbardo, P.G. (2012) ‘Transformational teaching: Theoretical underpinnings, basic principles, and core methods.’ Educational Psychology Review, 24(4), 569–608. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23162369 (Accessed: 10 November 2018).






Research Articles