July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Geomatics, with an emphasis on developing students’ competencies in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), is a technology-intensive course. During the Spring 2020 semester, XXXX shifted to online continuity of instruction after midterms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Geomatics instructor was faced with ensuring academic continuity and quality without remote student access to licensed GIS software. The instructor pivoted to use of QGIS, an open-source software, and a carefully-scaffolded project to equip students with essential GIS skills. Test 3 included two equally-weighted parts: (1) conceptual GIS questions and (2) a new open-ended project, which required students to use GIS to investigate a real-world scenario. Synchronous and asynchronous support was provided to afford students the flexibility needed to manage home commitments and technology challenges. Nevertheless, students’ potential for increased (even unmanageable) cognitive load was high, due to the new modality, pedagogy and software.
We investigated the impacts of the post-pandemic Geomatics course on students’ cognitive load and academic performance through the lens of Cognitive Load Theory, which asserts that cognitive overload can hinder learning. Based on students’ NASA Task Load Index scores, Test 3 workload was on par with their face-to-face engineering courses and lower than their online engineering courses. We expect that the cognitive load associated with the project and new software was manageable and not a barrier to learning. Performance on the project was substantially higher than on the closed-ended Test 3 questions, which supports that the project-based approach was integral to helping students achieve GIS competencies. Final exam performance was lower than in previous years, which may suggest that the mid-semester modality shift impacted their ability to fully synthesize material from the semester. Future course offerings will use the project to provide students with authentic engagement with GIS and real-world topics, while QGIS will remain an option for remote instruction.
Brown, K. T., & Watson, M. K., & Barrella, E. (2021, July), Beyond Continuity of Instruction—Innovating a Geomatics Course Using Problem-based Learning and Open-source Software Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36745
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