2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


WALKER, C. Scott, Geography, Northern Arizona University, Department of Geography, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, ABOLINS, Mark, Department of Geosciences, Middle Tennessee State University, 114 Cope Administration Building, Mrufreesboro, TN 37132 and HALL, Michelle K., Science Education Solutions, 4200 W Jemez Rd, Suite 301, Los Alamos, NM 87544, hall@scieds.com

We have developed two case studies that use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to investigate socially relevant Earth and environmental hazards. These resources fill a pressing need for data-rich student investigations that use contemporary technology in a pedagogically sound manner. The investigations explore the 1994 Northridge California earthquake and the 1999 and 2003 tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma. Our design philosophy of teaching with GIS—not about GIS—reflects research on how students learn with GIS technology. In the SAGUARO Earth Exploration GIS investigations, we used a guided inquiry instructional method to teach the GIS operations within the context of solving the problem. As students use the GIS to investigate and visualize data, they develop critical problem solving and GIS specific skills. However, the case study approach used in these case investigations has challenged us to explore new ways of teaching the basic GIS skills without removing the open-ended nature of the problem solving in a case study. Instructors at institutions currently using the related SAGUARO Earth Exploration series of investigations are helping to develop and field-test the case studies. We will present examples of our new investigations and discuss the lessons learned in field-testing our Northridge module.