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ERIC Number: ED550828
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 178
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3030-1171-9
Assessing Embedded Geospatial Student Learning Outcomes
Carr, John David
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Geospatial tools and technologies have become core competencies for natural resource professionals due to the monitoring, modeling, and mapping capabilities they provide. To prepare students with needed background, geospatial instructional activities were integrated across Forest Management; Natural Resources; Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology; and Environmental Technology & Management curricula in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. As additions were made to curriculum, the effectiveness of the integration and how well students were meeting geospatial outcomes were unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate student attainment of geospatial outcomes. The study was conducted in three phases to address three study objectives. The first objective was to develop an outcomes-based framework to assess student learning. An assessment framework is a conceptual approach for identifying foundational elements underpinning assessment activities such as identifying the type of assessment, identifying stakeholders, articulating student learning outcomes, and identifying criteria for success. The second objective was to develop assessment methods, identifying where and how often evidence of learning would be collected and analyzed. The third objective was to report results of the assessments, commenting on the current state of student learning and suggesting possible avenues for improving student learning, geospatial integration, and the assessment process. To develop our framework, we reviewed assessment literature and consulted assessment experts on campus. That guidance, in combination with our assessment goals, led us to choose a formative and utilization-focused assessment approach focused on intended uses by key stakeholders. Our stakeholders included facilitators responsible for developing and integrating geospatial activities in courses, faculty with geospatial integration in their courses, and program directors of curricula with integration in courses. We worked with NC State University Planning and Analysis and developed structured interviews. Content analysis of interview data identified stakeholders' geospatial objectives, where they would look for evidence of learning, and their criteria for success. This information helped guide the development and implementation of assessment methods. Faculty and administrators indicated that they believed evidence of student learning was demonstrated through students' deliverables or could be tested directly. In response, we collected students' maps, lab reports, term projects, and capstone course management plans and evaluated them with rubrics. Other assessment tools included tracking questions embedded on tests and quizzes, pre-post tests before and after series of instructional laboratories, and longitudinal surveys designed to solicit students' awareness of and confidence in their ability to use geospatial tools. Students' deliverables produced mixed results, but students in programs with integration incorporated spatial analysis within their assignments successfully. Pre-post tests showed that students' knowledge increased after course-embedded activities, and surveys indicated students' awareness and confidence were significantly increased at the completion of their programs. Rubrics used to assess students' term projects and capstone management plans revealed that forestry seniors met skills-based, information literacy, and conceptual knowledge outcomes. Natural resources seniors independently chose to use appropriate spatial analysis in their term projects and management plans, demonstrating adoption and internalization of spatial problem solving techniques. Curricula and courses we have worked with the longest have more instructional opportunities and the most seamless integration into ongoing coursework. The assessments showed that students in these programs performed better than students in programs with fewer learning opportunities. As a result, we are working with faculty in all curricula to design and facilitate activities that effectively complement students' classroom activities and that are more closely aligned with course content and performance expectations. This approach helps students utilize the knowledge and tools in authentic situations. The assessments helped us identify instructional missteps and unforeseen assessment issues that help us modify our teaching and assessment methods. The assessments are also producing baseline student learning information we can use to objectively evaluate both student performance and our performance as educators. We believe this study will be useful to institutions with similar goals and needs, and that the assessment methods can be adapted to fields of instruction other than forestry, natural resources, and spatial information systems. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina