Paper No. 156-12
Presentation Time: 4:55 PM
PAPER OR PLASTIC?: A COMPARISON OF STUDENT MAPPING PERFORMANCE USING TRADITIONAL AND DIGITAL METHODS
In extended field-learning settings, students produce a variety of artifacts to express their learning relative to objectives and instructor expectations. The majority have traditionally been in a paper format, such as student generated hand drawn maps and cross-sections, lithologic descriptions, stratigraphic columns, and memoirs. Industry, however, has moved towards the production of digital artifacts. In the Geology Field Course in western Ireland, JMU has been a leader in the integration of digital technologies in mapping exercises. Beginning with group mapping projects in mountainous terrain, students produced crowd-sourced geologic maps with a high data density, using iGIS on iPads and ArcGIS. The option of digital mapping in a five-day independent mapping experience was offered to students starting with the 2014 field course, with a traditional paper-pencil format offered as an alternative. Students were assigned to one of two mapping areas for this exercise, consisting of either a broad, flat area with little relief, or a smaller area of considerable relief. The geology in both areas was equivalent, consisting of amphibolite facies meta-sediments of Dalradian age, metamorphosed and deformed during the Taconic Orogeny. Each artifact component of student grades was assessed using criterion-based rubrics first deployed in 2009. In this investigation, the scores on maps and overall project grades were compared across mapping sites and across self-selected platforms. The results of the analysis (n=29) were inconclusive, showing no significant differences between scores between mapping sites. The results of the platform comparison also appear to show no differences and are thus inconclusive. Inferentially, this lack of difference would appear to indicate that (a) map location or terrain was not a factor in performance, and (b) the platform, especially electronic, does not detract from student performance, neither does it particularly enhance it. The significance is that students are not adversely affected by their choice of mapping format, or our current assessment instruments are insufficiently sensitive to detect differences between the groupings. Analysis of 2015 data for the same sites continues in order to provide a comparison that may distinguish between these potential outcomes.