Springfield, the armory and the Civil War: Using local history resources to develop best practice field trips for middle school social studies students

2008 2008

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This descriptive study identifies best practice for field trips for middle school social studies students, applies these principles in collaboration with the National Park Service at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Armory National Historic Site to offer a Civil War program to area students based on local documents and artifacts, and creates a model for other practitioners to develop local history programs. Based on the research, it describes elements of a successful field trip, defined as an effective learning experience which is fun and runs smoothly.

The Civil War—Soldiers, Civilians and Armory Workers program was considered successful by the 736 middle school participants from urban, suburban, private and homeschool groups over three years. The basic program was modified for each group to address student needs and revised over time. Responses to the open-ended 3-2-1 Reflections measure were remarkably consistent across groups and years; participants considered the program successful. Participants reported learning about each major educational objective; longer activities were most often mentioned. Most respondents offered historical facts with very few errors. Most spontaneously offered positive comments while only 10% made negative remarks. Suggestions for improvement included having more and longer activities and less talking.

Based on this research and the literature, models for best practice are presented for classroom teachers, for the Civil War program, and for historic sites. These each describe in detail the phases of effective field trips: (1) collaboration between teacher and site to set educational objectives, connect the setting and its resources to academic goals including state standards, and determine logistics; (2) classroom pre-trip activities to relate the trip to the curriculum and become familiar with activities; (3) during the field trip to engage in hands-on, authentic learning activities; and (4) post-trip activities to process what was learned. Recommendations for sites include offering one basic program tailored to individual needs, attending to volunteers, updating the program, and providing 21st century amenities. For participants, a successful field trip has activities that are hands-on, connected to curriculum, inquiry-based, authentic, set in the past, new, collaborative, multi-sensory, and creative; it also has good timing, passionate presenters, and welcoming facilities.

Indexing (details)

American history;
Social studies education;
Curriculum development
0337: American history
0534: Social studies education
0727: Curriculum development
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Field trips; Hands-on activities; Inquiry-based; Local history resources; Massachusetts; Middle school; Social studies; Springfield Armory National Historic Site; Successful; Volunteer
Springfield, the armory and the Civil War: Using local history resources to develop best practice field trips for middle school social studies students
Barone, Ann
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Parker, Kenneth A.
Committee member
Gagne, Kathleen D.; Glassberg, David; Maloy, Robert W.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.