The Level 5 Malta field trip is a highlight for Tourism Management and Hospitality Management students – and staff.  The trip builds community, enhances multiple academic skills and gives students the opportunity to experience tourism and hospitality management in ‘the real world’. 

In March 2020, it began to become clear that the Malta field trip would be cancelled, due to the Coronavirus. 

The first thing that the Tourism/Hospitality Team did was to consult their students about how best to re-create the experience online.  By involving students in the design of an alternative, the Team ensured that the alternative met students’ needs and abilities.  By treating students as partners in their learning, the Team also ensured student buy-in, which was important in ensuring student engagement and student satisfaction. 

Student engagement was particularly important, because the Team retained an element of group work, in the tasks and the assessments. 

Team work is an invaluable employability skill, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors.  Team work also helps to build learning community and belonging, which are important influences upon retention and student success.  As such, the ability to work in a team is an important learning outcome for the module, which the Team were keen to retain. 

In Malta, students would have researched, written and presented three case studies, as a group.  These groups are established at the start of the module and students work in these groups throughout the semester.  When the field trip moved online, students were instructed to choose two of three case studies.  Students worked on one case study individually and one as a group.   

The first case study considered agritourism.  Students were tasked with researching two industries online, analysing marketing materials and the implications of the industries for the local area, considering culture, economy, environment and society.  The second considered an assessment of the impacts of the City of Culture initiative; the third, the implications of accessibility legislation for heritage sites. 

All of this could be undertaken without leaving the house, using online resources.  Students received detailed instructions and resources for each activity, including the objective of the task (learning outcomes) and how/where/when to submit the assignment.  Crucially, guidelines for team working were included, including minimum requirements.  Students were also able to attend 3 group tutorials, with their tutor, via Collaborate, plus 1-2-1s, by arrangement. 

Student evaluation was positive.  The majority of students engaged positively, with their groups and with the tasks, to the extent that the Team plan to retain some aspects of the online fieldtrip in their teaching practice next year. 

Dr Jim Butcher has the following tips for successful online fieldtrips. 

  • If you can, design the fieldtrip in partnership with your students. 
  • Retaining team work is essential.  Whilst academic content and skills are important, it is equally important to build employability skills and learning community.  For group work to work well, it needs careful management, including rules, roles and the promise of academic intervention to address issues of non-participation, if needed. 
  • Visiting sites, talking to business managers and their customers, gives students valuable operational detail.  This wasn’t possible this time, because the module had to move online with little notice.  However, with more time, it would be possible to give students the opportunity to talk with business owners online.  Pre-recording short messages from business owners and customers could provide similar operational information. 

For more information on the Tourism Management / Hospitality Management field trip, please contact Jim.Butcher@Canterbury.ac.uk

For more information on L&T in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Social Sciences, contact Susan.Kenyon@Canterbury.ac.uk.  

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