Gis/Arcview Map and Problem-Based Learning Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Figure 2: "Information System for Geography" (GIS)

2. The Map View: A GIS consists of a set of intelligent maps and other views depicting features and feature relationships on the earth's surface. Students can use GIS to support their queries, make analyses, and edit information. With GIS, they can create maps of underlying geographic information and utilize the maps as "windows into the database," as noted by figures (3 & 4).

Figure 3 & 4: Intelligent Maps (GIS)

3. The Model View:

GIS is "a set of information transformation tools that derive new geographic datasets from existing datasets." (GIS) Students can use these geoprocessing functions to retrieve information from existing datasets. The GIS then applies analytic functions, and writes results into new derived datasets.

Figure 5: Example of a Derived Dataset (GIS)

When students combine data and apply some analytic rules, they can create a model that helps answer questions they pose. "In the example below, GPS and GIS were used to accurately model the expected location and distribution of debris for the Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke up upon re-entry over eastern Texas on February 1, 2003." (GIS)

Figure 6: Model of Expected Location and Distribution of Debris for the Space Shuttle Columbia (GIS)

The National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) purports that the geographically informed person knows and understands t" he world in spatial terms. The following standards constitute "The Eighteen National Geography Standards." (National Geography Standards)

The Eighteen National Geography Standards" STANDARD 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.


How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments.

A" STANDARD 3: How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.

A"PLACES and REGIONS:" STANDARD 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.

A" STANDARD 5: That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity.

A" STANDARD 6: How culture and experience influence people's perception of places and regions.

A"PHYSICAL SYSTEMS:" STANDARD 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.

A" STANDARD 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.

A"HUMAN SYSTEMS:" STANDARD 9: The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface.

A" STANDARD 10: The characteristics, distributions, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

A" STANDARD 11: The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.

A" STANDARD 12: The process, patterns, and functions of human settlement....

A" STANDARD 13: How forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface.

A"ENVIRONMENT and SOCIETY:" STANDARD 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.

A" STANDARD 15: How physical systems affect human systems.

A" STANDARD 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

A"THE USES of GEOGRAPHY:" STANDARD 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past.


To apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future. (National Geography Standards)

GIS Progress

During 1995, the UK did not give much consideration to teaching of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the school curriculum. "In the United States (U.S.)," however, Green reports, "things were generally a little more successful and progress was more rapid with respect to GIS in schools." Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Green notes, went from primarily being primarily "a research and analysis tool to a practical desktop application. Once only part of the higher education curriculum, they have now spread into secondary education providing a valuable tool for both presentation and geospatial analysis."

Among the GIS benefits, it reportedly:

Introduces students to a fresh way of seeing, thinking, and interacting with their environment

Helps students strengthen their computer literacy skills

Trains students in research process, using a variety of methods:

gathering, preparing, storing, and analyzing data and presenting the results of analysis

Provides a framework for student to learn teamwork. (Learning with GIS)

Zhang, and Li note that a number of commercial desktop GIS software systems currently dominate the geographical information (GI) industry and include: "ESRI Arclnfo and ArcView, Smallworld GIS, Intergraph GeoMedia, MapInfo Professional, Clark Lab's Idrisi, etc." As various vendors have their own proprietary software designs, data models, and database storage structures, it is unlikely all GIS applications will utilize the same software. (Tarnoff 1998, cited by Zhang, and Li) Because different geographical databases cannot communicate without data conversion, to exchange information and transfer data from one format into another to share computational geo-database resources among heterogeneous systems, conversion tools have to be developed. (Zhang, and Li) "Two problems arise in sharing heterogeneous spatial data through data conversion:"

Data become inaccurate after data conversion. This is an important issue for time-critical applications because accurate and up-to-date information is the basic and essential requirement. Inaccurate information after data conversion may lead to poor decisions, and time-critical applications usually cannot correct the poor decisions.

Time has to be wasted on data conversion. Time and money also have to be spent on developing the data conversion tools. While time-critical applications require a rapid, effective, and efficient response, data conversion will delay the response. (Zhang, and Li)

2007 GIS Project

One project during 2007 in Townsend, Montana with the goal to control weeds that destroy natural vegetation and eliminate food sources for wildlife and livestock also served to train teachers and students in the use of GPS/GIS/ArcView mapping systems. From the systems and training, students were able to map weeds for organizations and the public. Organizations then utilized the students' maps to secure funds for weed treatment.

Through the business portion of the Bug and Weed Project, bio-control agents were raised, sold and used to limit troublesome weeds. ("Environmental Program Takes Aim" 12) the project also created a prominent weed and bug insectary, which established a crop of biological control agents and fostered a public forum for education. Through the insectary, displays, media and presentations, students help educate the public about the history of noxious weeds, the impact of these weeds, and control agents. From this project, a semester long class in electronic mapping techniques was established.

For the student's efforts in the Bug and Weed Project, Townsend K-12 School District 1 was named the Montana state winner in the 2007 National Civic Star Award competition. The National Civic Star organization provides leadership in educating students and the public. ("Environmental Program Takes Aim" 12) Reports of results from another school utilizing GIS in New York also proved to be positive. "Students learn how using GIS can be important for town planning and studying ecology," Korniczky (cited by Sommer), an eighth-grade accelerated life science and biology teacher at Sweet Home Middle School in Buffalo, New York, states. "The towns of Amherst (pop. 116,500) and Clarence (pop. 26,000) and the four school districts that serve them partnered with the department of geography and planning at Buffalo State College to develop the program, which relied heavily on GIS mapping. The maps, which helped promote and foster interactive youth involvement, were accessible to students through a project website." (Sommer) Before the GIS project, Korniczky (cited by Sommer) states she never realized how connected teachers could be with their town planning department; that they could work together. She stressed the project which spanned the school years from 2001 to 2003, proved to be a great experience. Although the project ended in 2003, lesson plans and software continue are still used in some classrooms. "More important," the program's organizers contend, "the students' interest in planning grew as they became more aware of how it affects the world around them." (Sommer) "It made me think about the community in ways I would not normally view it -- about history, ecological issues, about building construction," Lindsay Bronnenkant, an Amherst high school senior who participated in the project while in middle school, states. (Sommer) PBL Problem-based learning (PBL) "has almost as many forms as places where it is used," Macdonald suggests. (2001, 1, cited by Pawson) PBL, promoted as a student-centered method of learning, ideally leads to "greater understanding and achievement of competencies, rather than retention of knowledge for its own sake." PBL generally occurs in group environments where the focus centers on attempting to resolve problems, or working through scenarios, developing skills that will ultimately transfer to career situations. (Pawson)

The following figure (7) reflects a number of ideal benefits students receive from PBL.

Figure 7: Ideal Benefits from PBL (GIS)

Pawson stresses the value of PBL, but argues that even though literature regularly cites examples of applications that allegedly achieve benefits from students using PBL, little has been revealed about circumstances in which PBL is or is not successful. The same proves true, Pawson stresses, of "costs" students, teachers, and sometimes administrators and parents, must pay to gain the benefits…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Alibrandi, Marsha, and Herschel M. Sarnoff. "Using GIS to Answer the 'Why's' of 'Where' in Social Studies." Social Education 70.3 (2006): 138+. Questia. 20 Mar. 2008


Andrienko, Natalia, et al. "Testing the Usability of Interactive Maps in CommonGIS." Cartography and Geographic Information Science 29.4 (2002): 325+. Questia. 20 Mar. 2008

Environmental Program Takes Aim at Weeds: Townsend K-12 School District 1 / Montana." School Administrator Apr. 2007: 12. Questia. 20 Mar. 2008

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