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The effects of online science instruction using geographic information systems to foster inquiry learning of teachers and middle school science students

, North Carolina State University, United States

North Carolina State University . Awarded


This study investigated the effects of using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to improve middle school students' and their teachers' understanding of environmental content and GIS. Constructivism provided the theoretical framework with Bonnstetter's inquiry evolution and Swartz's problem solving as the conceptual framework for designing these GIS units and interpreting the results.

Teachers from nine schools in five counties attended a one-week workshop and follow-up session, where they learned how to teach the online Mapping Our School Site ( and CITYgreen GIS inquiry-based problem-solving units. Two years after the workshop, two teachers from the workshop taught the six week Mapping Our School Site (MOSS) unit in the fall and one teacher from a different school taught the MOSS unit in the fall and the CITYgreen GIS unit in the spring.

The students in the MOSS experimental group (n = 131) and the CITYgreen GIS comparison group (n = 33) were compared for differences in understanding of environmental content. Other factors were investigated such as students' spatial abilities, experiences, and learning preferences. Teachers and students completed the online Learning Styles Inventory (LSI), Spatial Experience Survey (SES), and the Purdue Spatial Visualization Test: Rotations (PSVT:R).

Using qualitative and quantitative analyses, results indicated that the CITYgreen GIS group learned the environmental content better than the MOSS group. The MOSS group better understood how to design experiments and to use GIS to analyze problem questions. Both groups improved in problem identification and problem solving, data accuracy, and hypothesis testing.

The spatial reasoning score was compared to learning style as reported on the LSI, and other spatial experiences as reported on the SES. Males scored higher than females on the spatial reasoning test, the more computer games played the higher the score, and the fewer shop classes taken the higher the score.

Results indicated that 75% of the teachers' integrated GIS into classroom instruction two years after the GIS workshop. Even though teaching experience was negatively related to spatial reasoning test scores, implementation of GIS by teachers in the workshop was not influenced by years of teaching experience. The results indicate that GIS can be universally used for classroom instruction.


Hagevik, R.A. The effects of online science instruction using geographic information systems to foster inquiry learning of teachers and middle school science students. Ph.D. thesis, North Carolina State University. Retrieved May 21, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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