Date of Completion


Embargo Period



science education, teacher professional development, field trips, informal science, science center, experiential learning theory, transformative experiences

Major Advisor

Dr. John Settlage

Associate Advisor

Dr. David Moss

Associate Advisor

Dr. Robin Grenier

Associate Advisor

Dr. Jim Kisiel

Associate Advisor

Dr. Bill Watson

Field of Study

Curriculum and Instruction


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Field trips are a common strategy used in science education. Researchers have found that student learning on field trips (such as to museums) can occur. Researchers have suggested that a series of curriculum-connected activities (which occur before, during, and after the trip) make learning more likely. This study establishes the influential factors and experiences on four teachers who implemented curriculum-based field trips to a science center with explicit connections to ongoing student learning. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model and Pugh’s Transformational Experiences construct were used to examine the role of prior experiences in shaping these teachers’ educational field trip practice.

Influential factors on educational field trip practice were found to originate from teacher beliefs, as well as the context of the teacher at the time of the field trip. Teacher valuation of factors (e.g., state standards and grade level curriculum) depended on a dynamic between their previous experiences and core beliefs (e.g., sense of responsibility, sense of purpose, desire to continuously improve one’s craft, and self-preservation). Transformational experiences (Pugh, 2011) punctuated the development of field trip practice over time, yet a cycle of “trial and error” akin to the process of Experiential Learning (Kolb, 1984) sufficiently described the overall way in which teachers had developed educational field trip practice. Familiarity with the science center was instrumental in each teacher’s implementation of a curriculum-based field trip. Therefore, multiple previous visits (both personal and professional) to the science center were considered vital in the development of educational field trip practice. Finally, experiences (e.g., museum open houses, professional development workshops, and previous field trips) were not one-size-fits-all, rather, the impact of these experiences was dependent on personal and contextual factors at work on the individual teacher.