How can taking pupils and students outside the classroom greatly improve their level of learning and retention of knowledge?

During the last couple of years there has been a lot of research on how it is possible to increase the speed at which pupils and students learn and their ability to retain that knowledge.

And it turns out from all this research that two changes to normal school procedures improve the speed of learning and the retention of the knowledge that has been gained.

First, the research clearly shows that a change to the physical location of the learning will indeed improve rates of learning and the retention of that learning. Second, physical activity also helps the retention of all that is learned.

And in both these cases these are not minor levels of improvement to the amount that pupils and students learn – they are huge.

I won’t try to deal with both these issues here, but instead just focus on one of them: the notion that changing the location in which learning takes place dramatically increases the level of learning and the amount of that learning that enters the long-term memory.

The key research in this field has been undertaken by a team at Yale University, and in summary this very detailed and extensive research showed that when we are in an environment which is different from the norm, the brain becomes much more active.

This, of course, is common sense – a new environment presents new challenges for the individual and so awareness is heightened.

But the research shows that even when the new environment is quite safe and the situation is under the control of others who are trusted, the brain still works far harder than it does in a well-known environment. As a result far more is likely to be learned in that new location and it is much more likely to be remembered.

What this means is that (to give but one example) if a teacher takes a group of pupils or students out for a part of the school day and conducts a lesson in that new location, the amount of information the pupils or students retain will be much higher than if the lesson had happened in the classroom.

This, of course, is the reason why more schools are now organising trips to nearby locations, often using a school minibus to take a group, and conducting a lesson there.

You can read more about the research showing how learning outside can be twice as powerful as learning in the classroom in the article “Uncertainty is good”.

Also, if you are interested in the idea of leasing a minibus to enable the school to run more trips outside the classroom there is information on that here. Alternatively, you can get in touch by calling the Minibus Team on 01753 859944 or by dropping us an email – – and we’ll do our best to help!