Teaching Outside the Classroom

Engaging with students outside of the classroom creates opportunities for students and faculty to connect over course material in a different environment from the traditional lecture setting.  These experiences, typically envisioned as field trips, can serve as a community-building experience in an early lecture, an alternate text for an assignment, or the framework for an entire course.  Interaction between faculty and students outside the classroom also enhances students’ confidence in class, positively influencing participation in class (Weaver & Qi, 2005).


  • Establish an objective for the event. What would you like your students to learn in the new setting?
  • Research possible locations or events to attend with your class. Your current research and teaching connections in the local community can be a source of inspiration. If you are attending a public space or institution, connect with a local organizer who may be able to serve as a guest speaker or help facilitate the event.
  • Consider the logistics of the event, that may help you determine constraints that you may work in:Cost to attend: Are extra fees required? Will it be necessary to apply for funding in advance? Consult your department chair.
    Timing: can the event be held during lecture timeslot, or is it a public event outside of lecture time?
    Notification: Notify your students as early as possible, preferably in the syllabus, that the event will be taking place.
    Travel: Can public transit be used to travel? Will travel time conflict with students’ other courses? Consult with your class about potential solutions.
  • Keep in mind the University policy on the collection of ancillary fees, which speaks to the collection of fees related to course assessments. If there is a cost associated with your event, provide students with an alternative assignment that they can opt to complete if cost is prohibitive, or if they are unable to attend. For example, a written assignment or research task on the relevant topic will allow students to engage with the same material.
  • Determine what tasks your students will complete during the event and how they serve the learning objective. You may wish to provide them with a worksheet or assignment to complete during the event, or guidelines about how to approach the event.
  • Follow-up with a discussion in class to connect the two learning spaces and reinforce the value of making the trip.



  • Cox., B.E. (2011). A Developmental Typology of Faculty Student Interaction Outside the Classroom. In S. Hu & S. Li (eds.), Using Typological Approaches to Understand College Student Experiences and Outcomes: New Directions for Institutional Research, Assessment Supplement 2011 (49-66). Jossey-Bass.
  • Weaver, R.R., & Qi, J. (2005), Classroom Organization and Participation: College Students’ Perceptions. Journal of Higher Education, 75, 570-601.