GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 115-3
Presentation Time: 2:10 PM


WHITMEYER, Shelley, Dept of Geology and Env Sciences, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22801-2455

Virtual field experiences (VFE) can be an effective way to share spatial information with students. VFE enhance inclusion in the classroom by reducing the time, financial, and physical barriers that in-person field experiences present to some of our students.

This presentation will demonstrate a VFE created in ESRI’s Story Map platform based on the evolution of the barrier islands along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. During this presentation you will briefly learn how easy it is to create a Story Map and explore the VFE from the Eastern Shore. Links to the digital resources will be provided for use in your classroom.

The Eastern Shore VFE presents students with two possible hypotheses for the evolution of the barrier islands along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The students must use the data provided to determine if the barrier islands are experiencing oceanfront erosion or landward migration. The data provided includes historical aerial photos from VBMP program for Virginia spanning 2 decades, tide/sea level data from NOAA, and wave data from the National Buoy Data Center. After completing this activity students will understand that barrier islands are dynamic environments and evolve on a human timescale. The activity requires the students to synthesize geologic data, present a conclusion based on the available evidence, and collaborate with group members.

This activity was designed for upper-level geoscience students with experience using ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online. The activity was used in a virtual capstone class for geology majors. Most of the students had only an introductory knowledge of coastal processes and barrier island morphology. Students work independently to digitize specific shorelines and then merge all the shorelines into a class dataset that is analyzed by groups collaboratively. The groups must develop their own analysis, so the project requires higher-order thinking skills and a familiarity with analytical techniques. The final projects have been presented as Story Maps, traditional presentations, posters, or written reports. This activity could be modified for an introductory physical geology or oceanography class, if the students were provided with more guidance.