The Contribution of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Geography Education and Secondary School Students' Attitudes Related to GIS

By Artvinli, Eyüp | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

The Contribution of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Geography Education and Secondary School Students' Attitudes Related to GIS


Artvinli, Eyüp, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine the place of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in teaching geography, the general level of secondary school students' attitudes towards Geography Information Systems and whether this changes according to different variables. The population of the research consists of the students studying in Istanbul, Ankara, Mersin, Manisa, Gaziantep, Samsun, Çorum, Kütahya, and Erzurum province in 2008-2009 academic year. The sample consists of 665 students who study at 15 academic high schools and were chosen by using the triple stratified cluster sampling method according to geographical regions and socio-economic structures (upper-middle-lower) in the population chosen from the city centre. The data were gathered by using the scale which was developed by Al-Kamali (2007) in order to determine the attitudes of students related to GIS and adapted to Turkish culture (linguistic) under the current investigation. The data obtained were analyzed by using means, standard deviations, t-tests, and Pearson correlation coefficients. According to the findings, the students' attitudes towards GIS are positive, but new and widespread applications are needed for students to learn their lessons with GIS in a more motivated way.

Key Words

GIS Applications, Attitudes, Geography Education, Student-Centred Education.

Previously, using computer technology in learning activities conducted in schools has often been seen as a fad which would be obsolete within a short time. Many educators, teachers, and administrators were hesitant about whether computers were useful for a better education and higher student motivation (Bednarz, 1995, cited in Al-Kamali, 2007). Besides the problems of adapting the technology into the curriculum, the problems of using it by adapting it to course contents continue (Shin, 2006). Infrastructure and economic issues make it more difficult to find a solution to the problem of "appropriate use of technology to course content" mentioned above. For example, according to the research, which deals with the technologies used in geography lessons in Turkey, there are 48% computers, 35% LCD projectors and 26% internet connections available in geography classes, but only 7% of teachers stated that they used the computers, and 2% stated that they used LCD projectors in every lesson. There were no teachers who used the internet in every lesson (Demirci, Ta & Özel, 2007). Using the technology only for "making presentations" by teachers and students may lead to negative solutions during the teaching-learning process by reducing the beneficial effects for students and teachers alike.

Nowadays, however, students are more eager to learn about technology than teachers. Prensky (2001, p. 1) locates the position of the younger generation learning now and the mature generation who teach them technology, thus: 'We, who were not born in this digital era but have it any period and are trying to adapt ourselves, are affected by it and, compared with new generation, are in the position of "Digital Immigrants". Our students are changing radically compared with the past. Nowadays, students are far away from the people that our education system had in mind. Many naming names have been given to this generation. The most suitable name I can think of is "Digital Inhabitants" '. Adapting the GIS to education and making it obligatory in such circumstances can help reduce the acceptance process in a short time. This system is used much more in the educational field in developed countries (Baker, 2005; Demirci, 2004; Mota, Peixoto, Painho, Curvelo & Ferreira, 2006; Siegmund, Viehrig & Volz, 2007). GIS is an important means of knowledge technology in geography teaching (Gatrell, 2004; Milson & Alibrandi, 2008; Kerski, 2000, 2001, 2003; Özgen & Çakýcýoðlu, 2009; Wiegand, 2001). Chalmers (2006) states that he is pessimistic about the widespread use of GIS in schools in the next five years, and adds that the basic problem is teachers' time, rather than matters of rigging or software difficulties. …

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