Study tours provided added value to students
June 13, 2014
PLAINVIEW – The value of education can be measured by more than what one learns simply from a textbook or class lecture. For history and English students at Wayland Baptist University that added value was ever present during a 3-week study tour in England.
Sponsored by the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences and the School of Languages and Literature, 10 students and two professors made the trip made the trip to Oxford and London, along with Annette Coon who coordinated the efforts. Dr. Kevin Sweeney taught World Civilizations up to 1500 as well as an upper-level history course that covered medieval England. Dr. Maria O’Connell taught a World Literature course as well as an upper-level English course covering British literature.
While students spent much of their time studying, the experiences they had while immersing themselves in the culture about which they were learning was a benefit they could not have received in the classroom.
“It was pretty hard taking two classes,” said Reggie Pierce who was taking Dr. Sweeney’s history courses. “Two three-page papers a week was hard. I really learned how to manage my time.”
Although challenging, Pierce said the experience was worth it. He particularly enjoyed Dr. Sweeney’s class on medieval times, learning about the customs of the period, then touring some of the castles and seeing the facilities and machinery which he had previously only experienced through television and movies.
Taking two classes interspersed with site-seeing made for long days for the group. Pierce said they typically started around 4:30 a.m. – when the sun came up.
“[The sun] was our alarm clock,” he said. “Our day started at about 4:30 and we called it quits at about 10 or 10:30.”
When the classes weren’t meeting, the group toured sites made famous by British literature such as Bakers Street in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. They visited the Elephant House where J.K. Rowling penned Harry Potter, as well as the cemetery where she found the names for her characters. Medieval castles, Stonehenge, Abbey Road and, of course, Buckingham Palace, were among the sites they visited.
“It was really interesting to see how everything connected together,” Coon said. “You would think that they wouldn’t get all the topics covered and all the information covered. But due to everything we saw, everything was covered very well. It was fun.”
Coon, who works as the administrative assistant in the School of Languages and Literature, said the experience was priceless. The group stayed at Whytcliffe Hall in Oxford for 10 days then spent the remainder of their time at a hostel in London – all the while the while meeting individuals from other backgrounds and cultures, and learning about other parts of the world.
“I really want people to understand the value these students get out of the classes when they go abroad,” Coon said. “It’s a big bang for the buck. Tuition is half price (in the May and summer microterms). That is a huge benefit.”
Students paid tuition for the courses as well as an additional $2,800 to cover the cost of the three-week trip. Coon said she hopes to see more people involved in future study tours, taking advantage of the opportunities. The School of Languages and Literature is planning future trips to Costa Rica and Spain.