GIS&T Pedagogy in Higher Education: A Survey of Educators

Authors: Adam Mathews*, Oklahoma State University, Thomas Wikle, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Higher Education, Geography Education
Keywords: GIS, pedagogy, instruction, higher education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The rapid growth of college and university Geographic Information Science & Technology (GIS&T) instruction has generated interest in research aimed at improving both instructional effectiveness and the preparation of new GIS&T professionals. A longstanding issue facing GIS&T educators has been the problem of finding a balance in time devoted to conceptual issues versus activities that enable students to gain proficiency using GIS software. In this paper, we explore GIS&T instruction through the eyes of college and university faculty who teach GIS&T courses. Along with examining how GIS is taught, we summarize the difficulties faced by college and university instructors teaching GIS&T who completed an Internet-based questionnaire in June and July of 2016. In terms of how GIS is taught, we find that instructors employ a wide variety of teaching techniques. Nearly all have both theoretical and hands-on laboratory components in their courses. Most stress group work, field-based experiences, and project-oriented approaches. Some instructors implement active learning techniques and/or flip the classroom. Regarding issues that instructors face in the GIS&T classroom, respondents repeatedly identified high variation in student ability to use computers in the lab (i.e. file management), limited time for faculty to make changes to GIS&T courses (including professional development opportunities incorporate the latest technologies into the classroom), difficulty finding and stressing the importance of the correct balance between concepts and practice, and problems with using industry-standard software instead of open alternatives or a mix of software packages.

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