Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of GIS-Based Learning Materials in an Introductory Geoscience Course
Journal of Geoscience education
Learning with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) rather than about GIS has great potential for improving students' skills in problem solving, analysis, and spatial visualization. However, little is known about how well GIS-based learning lives up to this potential. Using classroom observations, student interviews and surveys, preand posttests of knowledge, and measures of spatial skills, we have begun to quantify student learning that occurred with a GIS-based module on plate tectonics and
... logic hazards. We also investigated factors in the design and implementation of the materials that impacted student learning. Classroom observations were key to improving the materials so that students in an introductory geoscience course can successfully complete the activities with minimal instruction in GIS. Through field-testing, we improved the materials design to address student difficulties with learning to use a GIS, identifying basic geographic locations and features, and interpreting topography and other two-or three-dimensional representations. In a quantitative measure of knowledge, using pretests and posttests, mean scores improved 17% (p<.001). We also found positive correlations between students' spatial ability and performance on both the posttest and a regular course exam that covered the material in the GIS activity. We are continuing this investigation in Fall 2001 to measure changes in spatial ability due to use of GIS-based materials.