Individual Awareness of Regional Geosciences Resources and the Potential Influence of Community Size

Authors: Sarah Radencic Lalk*, Mississippi State University, Kathleen Sherman-Morris, Mississippi State University , Athena O Nagel, Mississippi State University , John C Rodgers, Mississippi State University
Topics: Geography Education, Higher Education, Environmental Perception
Keywords: education, online, individual awareness, geosciences resources, community size
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Students enrolled in an online Geosciences Masters program are required to create virtual field guides as a capstone project highlighting locations representing geosciences concepts. Locations must be within a set travel time of residential areas of each student, with a student population distributed across the United States. Projects were evaluated to determine if the geographical classification of a student’s residential area as rural, suburban, or urban had an influence on the standard distance traveled to the geosciences locations varied by community size. Number and type of geosciences resource location visited during a trip were also compared. Distances traveled from the field trip starting point to each location in the student’s field guide were analyzed using ArcMap’s Standard Distance tool. The resulting standard distance radius value and circular polygon shapefile of this radius were used to compare the distances traveled by community size. Number of geoscience resources were also counted, coded, and classified by type, such as museums or parks. Preliminary results suggested that individuals who lived in rural, followed by urban, regions traveled further standard distances to geoscience locations than did the majority of the students in suburban residential areas. Rural and suburban residents included a larger number of regional geosciences resources. These results demonstrate a possible increase in awareness of geosciences resources specific to the individual’s regional area when compared to other students. Urban residents demonstrated a limited awareness of regional geosciences resources, although the distance traveled was greater than that of suburban participants.

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