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Design, Implementation, and Evaulation of GIS-Based Learning Materials in an Introductory Geoscience Course
Little is known about how well GIS-based learning lives up to its potential for improving students' skills in problem solving, analysis, and spatial visualization. This article describes a study in which researchers determined ways to quantify student learning that occurred with a GIS-based module on plate tectonics and geologic hazards, and to improve the materials design with the use of classroom observations and field testing. The study found that student difficulties in working with GIS-based activities can be overcome by making some features of the GIS transparent to the user, that a lack of basic geography skills can interfere in the progression of a GIS-based activity, and that some conceptual difficulties can be overcome by providing guiding questions that help students interrogate visual data. In addition, it was noted that some misconceptions in interpretation of two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional block diagrams can persist even after direct instruction. In general, a positive correlation was noted between spatial thinking and GIS-based learning.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Graduate / Professional
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Journal article
  • Educational theory and practice
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Geology
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material on this site for educational, noncommercial purposes as long as attribution is retained.
DLESE Catalog ID: EVAL-TLKT-000-000-000-101
Related resources:
This resource is referenced by
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE)

Author: Michelle K. Hall-Wallace
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona

Author: Carla M. McAuliffe
Center for Earth and Space Science Education