Monday, November 2, 2009: 2:45 PM
Convention Center, Room 337-338, Third Floor
The National Research Council in 2006 stated that "Spatial thinking is a cognitive skill that can be used in everyday life, the workplace, and science to structure problems, find answers, and express solutions using the properties of space". Spatial reasoning/thinking across the curriculum does not require the development of a new, separate course focusing solely on spatial thinking, but certainly there are courses that fit that category and are often times driven by geographic information systems (GIS) software and computer simulation. A computer applications lab has been in place at Wesley College since 2000, but with a focus on modeling applications for the environmental studies program. In spring 2009, a broad initiative was launched that focused on creating a learning environment that utilized a spatial learning framework. This framework is a set of general questions or ideas, which provides a structure suitable for many academic disciplines. These questions could fall into three categories such as general, distribution/patterns, and limits or constraints. To operationalize the framework, a suite of computer applications models primarily for the environmental sciences and a GIS were used. Some of the models were linked to a GIS, and as part of the initiative a new GIS course titled, Environmental, Business and urban GIS, was developed and offered. GIS laboratory exercises were developed for a variety of disciplines. Using a GIS, virtually any kind of data can be placed on a digital map, then visualized, compared, measured, and analyzed. GIS data were accessed from the Census Bureau, National Atlas of the United States of America, NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway, USEPA and state and international agencies. Student projects were developed for business, nursing, marketing, biology, environmental science, demographic studies and political science. These projects will be discussed in terms of spatial questions and reasoning.