The Role of Teachers Attending Field Experience Trips: A Nature Center Case Study


  • Lisa G. Chebret Sam Houston State University
  • Karla W. Eidson Sam Houston State University
  • Robert M. Maninger Sam Houston State University
  • Sam Sullivan Sam Houston State University


education, field experience, field-trip, outdoor, role, successful, teacher


Nature Centers across the United States provide approximately 1500 outdoor learning sites for school-aged children and serve as teaching labs for subject matter across the curriculum. This case study is based on the Spring Creek Greenway, a nature center recently opened in Montgomery County, Texas. At the request of the nature center manager, the study seeks to answer the question, “Why would teachers attending field experience trips, assume they are taking the day off?” The study explores the role of teachers attending field-trips and seeks to define the most helpful role for a teacher, from the perspective of site-educators. The study involves qualitative reflections from fifteen site-educators based on their experiences with attending teachers. Three non-participant field-trip observations served to confirm the results of a pilot survey conducted by the nature center. The study found that while attending teachers valued the experience, were comfortable in the outdoors, and felt equipped to contribute, they were uncertain about the contribution they should make in order to maximize student learning. The study provides useful recommendations to teachers uncertain about their role and opens research opportunities to nature centers interested in tapping the potential of the attending teachers.