Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Yingkui Li

Committee Members

Lisa M. Reyes Mason, Robert Washington-Allen


Informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education refers to science learning that takes place in a non-traditional setting, such as a museum, a library, and outside a classroom, based on the methods different from the traditional pen-to-paper style of classroom learning. A critical component of Informal STEM education is to ensure student understanding and using available technologies to better analyze and convey scientific data, particularly for the data that are spatial in nature. Combining mobile technologies with geographic information systems (GIS) in field data collection provides unique opportunities for students to feel stimulated and engaged in what they are learning and to take ownership of their own learning process.In this thesis, I developed a publicly available and open access data collection application and investigated its impacts on students’ engagement and perception of the incorporation of technology in their learning within the environmental science curricula. The analyses of pre- and post-surveys indicate that the inclusion of geospatial technologies as a part of curricula can significantly boost students’ engagement by allowing the opportunities to 1) take the lead on their own research, 2) view field data in real-time as opposed to looking at a database in hindsight, and 3) view and analyze multiscale data as it is presented during field analysis. The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies, suggesting a strong correlation between the inclusion of geospatial technologies as a part of curricula and student engagement and performance.

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