UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of an innovative web-based teaching tool illustrating land use impacts to soil quality and formation Strivelli, Rachel A.


Over the last few decades, post-secondary education has experienced an increase in the adoption of new technologies and approaches into the curriculum. Meanwhile, soil has not received the attention it warrants for its role in many of the current global environmental issues, such as food shortages and climate change. Innovative teaching approaches are needed to convey the message that soil is an essential natural resource for human survival and to raise the appeal of the discipline of soil science. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate the web-based Land Use Impacts (LUI) teaching tool, which combined a problem-based learning (PBL) style case study with information technology (IT) to illustrate the impacts of three land uses on soil formation and quality for students enrolled in the fourth year/graduate university course on sustainable soil management. The LUI tool (http://soilweb.landfood.ubc.ca/luitool/) provides an authentic learning experience with the purpose of engaging students and providing greater access to information. The tool will be used extensively in the Sustainable Soil Management course offered at UBC which has a yearly enrollment of around 30 students. The tool includes instructional technologies, soils data from 1970 and 2005-2008, archival photos, maps, historical narratives, and web-links. Preliminary feedback showed that the tool successfully conveyed learning objectives and was appealing to the students. Eighty-five percent of student agreed that the tool's multimedia resources added to the appeal of the subject. By exposing students to complex questions without definite answers, promoting intellectual inquiry and analysis, stimulating critical thinking, and encouraging the application of knowledge to complex issues, the LUI tool stimulates higher cognitive processes and facilitates learning outcomes deemed essential by current employment demands. In long-term, this study will help promote development and use of innovative educational methods in soil science curriculum and, in turn, will enhance the appeal of this discipline among the next generation of natural resource scientists.

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