DIGITAL MAPS OF STUDENTS' DATA AS AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF GEOLOGY FIELD CAMP
Initial results generated more enthusiasm among faculty than students. Faculty who never before had a choice but to map with pencil and paper, locating themselves with low-precision bearings, compass-and-pace, and qualitative reading of the topographic base-map, quickly recognized the possibilities presented by the new tools and techniques. However, today's undergraduates are familiar with high-resolution computer graphics and are not easily "wowed" by technology or visual effects. They enjoy the traditional aspects of map preparation as much as the automated processes. Among students, the most popular technology by far is the hand-held GPS device, for the less-than-desirable reason that it obviates the need for insightful topographic map-reading.
However, student interest increases markedly when students' own data is imported into visualization software, such as their GPS way points from a recent hike projected onto published geological maps. Student scan their own field slips and drape them onto 3D models of the topography in order to assess the validity of their geological mapping hypotheses.
Outcomes assessment and exit surveys indicate an increase in student interest in the digital mapping component of the course when students' own data is used, even though the resultant presentation is less polished than a publishable map. Future plans include the introduction of draping early in the course so that daily field studies may benefit from the trial-and-error process of digital map compilation.