2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 34
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Integrating Google Earth into Undergraduate GIS Education

PASLAWSKI, Cynthia, Natural Sciences, University of Michigan - Dearborn, 39717 Peters, Canton, MI 48187 and NAPIERALSKI, Jacob, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Department of Natural Sciences, 4901 Evergreen Rd, Dearborn, MI 48124, cpaslaws@umd.umich.edu

Google Earth (GE) is a dynamic tool which is gaining popularity among educators as a way to introduce students to geographic information. While more complex programs are still needed in GIS classes for geospatial and statistical analysis, GE provides a simple introduction to the basic tools needed for GIS applications. GE is user-friendly, cost effective, and readily available. Because of these characteristics, GE was used at the University of Michigan – Dearborn to introduce students in an entry level GIS class to the basic functions of the software. The students were given basic instructions on how to input data, generate a placemark, and create a virtual field trip, and then used GE as a tool to explore their watershed and learn about watershed hydrology. The students were then sent on a world-wide “scavenger hunt” where they were given various tasks (i.e. profiling, measuring, orientation) that provided clues to take them to the next destination. Students then designed their own virtual field trips based on personal experiences or other interests. Student learning was assessed using a pre-test and post-test consisting of true/false, multiple choice, and open-ended questions. Results showed a small improvement in overall understanding of spatial concepts (i.e. watershed delineation and surface-water hydrology) and geography. The methods previously discussed will be implemented in the next introductory GIS class next winter. The results from the next GIS class will be compared against these results to better understand the range of preconceived perceptions and knowledge students have when entering the course and to improve the manner in which GIS concepts and skill are introduced.