Paper No. 12-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM
GEOSPATIAL THINKING AND REASONING ENHANCED IN A STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY AND TECTONICS COURSE USING WEB GIS
Learning technologies combined with well-designed curricula can facilitate the interpretation and manipulation of spatially referenced data improving student’s spatial reasoning skills and associated higher-order cognitive processes. “TILT”, Tectonics Inquiry Learning Tool, integrates geological and geophysical data sets and requires learners to reconstruct ancient plate motions within a Web GIS learning environment. The learning activities promote inquiry-based learning and geospatial thinking. Authentic marine and terrestrial data layers include topography, bathymetry, sediment cores, magnetic anomalies, earthquakes, and geology that can be dynamically explored. In a Lehigh University classroom student learning was guided by direct contact hours with real-time instructor feedback, instructional handout, lessons to interpret data, and video tutorials that promoted creative assignment completion. Personalized login allowed students to retain work during an implementation study that consisted of 12 undergraduate students assessed with a criterion-based rubric (inter-rater reliability = 0.93) on a series of Web GIS screenshot artifacts of modern plate boundaries, the age of the ocean, and several ancient continental reconstructions. For each artifact, students were required to support decision-making and reasoning with a supporting text. Classroom observations and a post-implementation survey were completed. Students performed remarkably well on the assignment and no student scored less than proficient in any rubric criteria. The results from the student survey data were especially positive. Ninety-one percent of students found the Web GIS investigation to be engaging and 64% percent stated they would prefer more labs in this style. When asked if they believed that the Web GIS investigation enhanced what they typically did when learning about tectonics, all but one student responded “yes”. Compared to prior years when a paper-based exercise produced results of a lower quality, students completed the TILT investigation much faster and were less restricted in choosing the learning path that suited them. We believe this led to higher and more consistent levels of learning. The Web GIS and exercises are freely available at (http://gisweb.cc.lehigh.edu/ees223/).