Term Paper: GIS Arcmap in Education

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¶ … Gis/Arcview Map and Problem-Based Learning in Education

GIS/ARC VIEW MAP

Geographical Information

GIS: Geographical Information Systems

NCGE: The National Council for Geographic Education

PBL: Problem-based Learning (PBL)

IMPORTANCE/BENEFITS of USING

GIS/ARCVIEW MAP and PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING in EDUCATION

You may have a map in which every feature that can be named, every hill, brook, crossroads, is crowded in; in the effort to show the reader the lay of the land, the shape of the mountain systems, the relations of drainage, relief, communications, and so on.

Both kinds are useful, depending on the needs of the user.

Crane Brinton (1898-1968), U.S. historian, educator (Columbia)

Depending on the Needs

What students need in the educational realm, according to Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, who testified April 6, 2006 before the House Education, is to become "creative problem-solvers with strong math and science backgrounds." Spellings cited mounting evidence that warns American students are falling behind a number of other countries in education. During 2006, America's 15-year-olds ranked "24th out of 29 developed nations in math literacy and problem solving.... We saw this coming in the early 1980s, when the National Commission on Excellence in Education released the Nation at Risk report. It warned our educational system was being eroded by a 'tide of mediocrity' and called for 3 years of math and science in every American high school. Today, more than 20 years later, we're not even close to meeting that goal. And we've run out of time to wait." ("Secretary Spellings'") Along with her warning regarding education in the U.S., Spellings points out that today's leaders, policymakers, parents, and educators need to ensure kids are prepared for the future. President Bush's comment in the State of the Union, Spellings pointed out, makes a valid point: "If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world." ("Secretary Spellings'")

This paper explores two specific contemporary learning methods: a GIS/Arcview Map and Problem-Based Learning, currently being utilized in schools to help ensure children in the U.S. succeed in life. The point Brinton (Columbia) makes in the introductory quote for This paper; that more than one kind of map proves useful, "depending on the needs of the user," aptly applies to the contention purported by this researcher in this paper, which relates the importance and benefits of using a GIS/ArcView map and problem-based learning in education. Both kinds of learning explored in this study, a GIS/Arcview Map and Problem-Based Learning prove useful - "depending on the needs of the user [student]." post by Gerard Florentine March 11, 2008 on the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) Website portrays concerns regarding the educational needs children in the U.S. Although the graduation rate reflects a basically good guide for success, Florentine states, "[this] is not really what we should be looking at. What a student actually knows - real world usable knowledge - is what is important. Every year there are multiple stories about incoming college students who are unable to find their home state on an unlabeled map. Knowledge of where we are and what we are doing here is so important; the study of Geography should be made a graduation requirement." (National Geography Standards)

The following map, figure (1), relates high school graduation rates for the 11,000 school districts across the U.S., noted by Florentine.

A www.ncge.org/resources/mapoftheweek/images/edweekstategrad.gif"

Figure 1: 2002-2003 High School Graduation Rates (National Geography Standards)

New Way of GIS introduces students to a new way of seeing, thinking, and interacting with the world around them. Using GIS, students explore course content in a way that enhances logical, mathematical, linguistic, spatial, and interpersonal intelligences. Developing GIS projects improves critical thinking skills such as analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. Learning about GIS in a structured setting is beneficial not only in developing computer literacy but also provides training in the process of research including gathering, preparing, storing, and analyzing data and presenting the results of analysis using a variety of methods. These GIS provides a framework for learning other academic disciplines. In addition to interacting with data in a new way, students learn teamwork because GIS projects typically require a high level of cooperation. (Learning with GIS)

Problem-based Learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) "has almost as many forms as places where it is used," Macdonald (2001, 1, cited by Pawson) suggests. In problem-based learning, which constitutes one of a number of innovations in educational practice in recent years, a range of positive outcomes for students is claimed. An editorial in the Journal of Geography in Higher Education purports that problem-based learning:

promotes greater understanding of concepts, develops skills, fosters active participation and motivates and enthuses classes. (Agnew 2001, cited by Pawson)

Supporters of PBL argue that it fosters benefits for assignments and/or for courses, and also for part or all of a disciplinary curriculum, as well as, for lifelong learning. Proponents of PBL deem it to be an instructional strategy, or method, along with a curricular philosophy. (Maudsley 1999, cited by Pawson)

Problem-solving learning is a traditional method in which staff set the problems, and students attempt to resolve them from bounded curricula content (Savin-Baden 2001). The focus is on preparatory learning prior to exposure to the problem. In contrast, problem-based learning is 'problem first learning' (Spencer and Jordan 1999). It is usually portrayed as a student-centred method, in which curricula content is organised around problem scenarios, rather than subjects or topics (Dahlgren and Oberg 2001). Students, usually working in groups, must then engage with the problem scenarios to decide what information and skills they need to resolve the situation effectively. The onus is on students determining their own learning needs and on independence of enquiry. This may involve collaboration between disciplines. Such experiences are said to enhance means of managing, or integrating, knowledge, or of learning how to learn, rather than attempting to assimilate content before entering employment. Jenkins (1985) drew attention to this distinction as the difference between 'drawing out' and 'filling up'. However, the first major survey of good teaching practice in geography (Gold et al. 1993) indexed 'problem solving' but not problem-based learning. (Pawson)

Because doctors' and engineers' professional lives regularly revolve around problem scenarios, initially, PBL was developed for learning in the applied disciplines of medicine and engineering. "PBL grew from research in the 1960s into the reasoning abilities of medical students and a desire to improve their ability to relate knowledge learned to the problems with which patients presented." (Schwartz et al., 2001, cited by Pawson)

Basically, medical students need knowledge, along with the ability to integrate it, and these needs are exacerbated by the speed with which knowledge changes. Medical students, in fact, are regularly told that half of the information they learn will be obsolete in ten years. (Hornblow, 2004, cited by Pawson) a similar scenario applies to the education of geography students. Many of these individuals will begin careers not related to their first degree expertise.

For these students, the ability to learn as self-starters in new situations is clearly vital, and they have 'little need for content-driven instruction' in geography (Wu and Fournier, 2000, 112). Even those who do make careers drawing directly on their degrees, such as in Geographic Information Systems and in environmental management, face a similar pace of knowledge renewal to those in medicine. (Pawson)

CONSIDERATIONS

GIS

Data' stems from the Latin verb dare, which means 'those which are given.'

What is "given," albeit may not present the complete picture, as no data are complete.

In a similar sense, no map provides the total truth, nor is any single historical document the entire story or history."

Alibrandi, and Sarnoff)

New Way to Learn

Data" from the official GIS site explains concepts relating to GIS and defines GIS as: "A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information." (GIS) Most of the time, a GIS is associated with a map. A map, albeit, only constitutes one way an individual can work with geographic data in a GIS; a map depicts only one category of product a GIS generates. A GIS can proffer many more problem-solving capabilities than its use as a simple mapping program or a means for adding data to an online mapping tool (creating a "mash-up"). (GIS) Basically, a GIS, based on a structured database, describes the world in geographic terms.

GIS may be viewed in three ways. Together, the following three views constitute critical parts of an intelligent GIS, used at various levels in all GIS applications. (GIS) Map and graph interpretation skills, tested in content-based tests frequently prove troublesome for students. When using GIS, students work with actuall data to produce a map representation, which builds critical map reading skills. As students construct maps and begin to understand and solve problems, they further develop their map and graph interpretation skills. (Alibrandi, and Sarnoff)

The Database View:

Students can utilize this unique kind of database of the world, a geographic… [END OF PREVIEW]

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