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Despite the recent increase in research on experiential learning for the field of tourism studies, questions remain about which aspects of experiential learning best contribute to tourism courses and how students perceive the effectiveness of field trips. This article attempts to establish an alternative framework for understanding the students' view of experiential learning in the field of travel and tourism. A travel journal developed in summer 2003 to measure American undergraduates' opinions about experiential learning was used during a field trip in the Niagara Falls region. It solicited the opinions of tourism major students concerning the itinerary activities and images of destinations. The trip was in three parts. First, the undergraduate students attended classroom sessions to familiarize them with destination and management issues. Second, students participated in a 4-day trip and were required to keep a journal and take photographs for interpreting the travel experiences. Third, a photo analysis and panel discussion were held with students after the trip concerning their perceptions of experiential learning. The study found that students are comfortable with the field trip because it helps personal development. The group dynamics and the development of teamwork concept seem to be important variables of this instructional methodology. Other factors, such as destination image, were identified during the trip. The findings of the study have important repercussions for the training of students in tourism majors. The experiential base elements help students develop perspectives and other learning outcomes associated with the application of knowledge at higher levels.

Keywords: Experiential learning; Field trip; Niagara Falls; Photo analysis; Tourism major; Travel journal

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sport Management, Recreation and Tourism Division, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, Bowling Green State University, OH

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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