Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

The Use of Geospatial Technologies Instruction within a Student/ Teacher/Scientist Partnership: Increasing Students' Geospatial Skills and Atmospheric Concept Knowledge

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

The Use of Geospatial Technologies Instruction within a Student/ Teacher/Scientist Partnership: Increasing Students' Geospatial Skills and Atmospheric Concept Knowledge

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Many 21st century careers rely on geospatial skills; yet, curricula and professional development lag behind in incorporating these skills. As a result, many teachers have limited experience or preparation for teaching geospatial skills. One strategy for overcoming such problems is the creation of a student/teacher/scientist (STS) partnership within schools. This study investigated the extent to which the use of geospatial technologies (GST) within a STS partnership improved the geospatial skills and atmospheric science concept knowledge of high school and junior high school students who were primarily from high-needs schools. During the course of a 5 d summer institute, scientists who use GST in their research taught teachers how to use the geospatial technologies of remote sensing, geographic information systems, and global positioning systems. This phase was followed by instruction in standards-based activities, taught by a master teacher, which participating teachers could use to integrate GST in their curriculum. During the school year following the summer institute, teachers taught their students the use of the geospatial skills. Students then applied these skills to collect field data, which were shared with scientists. Instruction culminated in the preparation of individual inquiry-based student projects that were presented to scientists, fellow students, and community members at a mini-conference. The research methodology involved testing students before any instruction in GST and then retesting them twice: (1) once during the elaboration phase of instruction, subsequent to formal instruction and field data collection, and (2) again during the evaluation phase of instruction, after student engagement with their individual projects. Substantial gains were found from the pretest to the evaluation phase test in both geospatial skills and atmospheric concept knowledge. No interaction effects of gender and socioeconomic status were found.

© 2023 National Association of Geoscience Teachers. [DOI: 10.5408/11-237.1]

Key words: geospatial technologies, spatial skills, atmospheric science, concept learning, inquiry, STS partnership, teacher development

INTRODUCTION

Teachers tend to have limited experience in, or preparation for, teaching geospatial skills (Briggs, 2007), even though these skills are seen as required for many 21st century careers (DeRocco, 2003). Curriculum and professional development efforts lag behind in helping teachers incorporate these skills in the classroom. One strategy for dealing with this lag is the creation of partnerships among students, teachers, and scientists who use these skills. Student/teacher/scientist (STS) partnerships focus on providing student access to authentic science experiences (Tinker, 1997). This goal underscores the need for sustained involvement, long-duration experiences, and ownership by all participants, including students, teachers, and scientists, within STS partnerships (Rahm et al., 2003). An STS partnership, therefore, must meet a number of requirements in order for it to succeed: (1) Teachers and students must be able to understand the science involved; (2) the cost of instrumentation must be low; (3) the research in which the teacher and students will participate should require more manpower or observers than scientists alone can provide, and (4) the research must be conducted in multiple locations that are geographically diverse (Tinker, 1997). Some research areas that Tinker (1997) suggests as particularly suitable to these partnerships include: environmental studies on a longterm basis, large-scale biodiversity studies, epidemiologic studies of low-level diseases like the common cold, ozone and ultraviolet studies, image analysis of pictures of Mars and outer space to find supernovae and other transitory events, data gathering and analysis of social and cultural issues, and educational issues like the tracking of the impact of technology and school reform. …

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