Developing Learning Materials to Support Scientific Research Skills in Undergraduate Students

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientSuzana Dragicevic, Department of Geography

Project teamTaylor Anderson, research assistant

Timeframe: August 2015 to May 2016

Funding: $5,000  

Course addressed: GEOG 451 – Spatial Modeling

Final report: View Suzana Dragicevic's final project report (PDF)

Description: The project is structured around two primary goals. The first goal is to develop practical and enhanced learning materials that will introduce undergraduate students in the Spatial Modeling course to required topics using the scientific research process. The topics of focus will be on: (1) literature research, (2) gathering and using geospatial data, (3) building scientific model, generating and analysis of model output results, and finally (4) communication of the results.

The second goal is to investigate how undergraduate students can perform and be involved as researchers and scientists. This will be based on developing students’ abilities to think and express themselves as scientists and be engaged at real conference settings to communicate the findings for their research projects (e.g. simulation model results), enrich their experience in scientific communication, and interactions with the conference participants as colleagues and academics.

The project will investigate the abilities of undergraduate students to take the role of scientists while completing the tasks for the course. Students will be active participants of the conference and gain experience on communication research findings and interactions with scientific community. The project will develop the undergraduate students’ capacity to perform research work through learning about the scientific process, and will enable them to develop research skills, critical thinking and communication skills that they can further use in their undergraduate program, the future workplace, or graduate studies if they choose to pursue.

Questions addressed:

  • What are the students’ learning outcomes on the overall knowledge acquired from the course content?
  • What are students’ learning outcomes on scientific thinking concepts and practical work?
  • How do students perceive the scientific process, and what they have learnt about it?
  • How have students’ experiences of scientific communication and conference attendance reinforced their ability to think and act as scientist?
  • What is the influence of learning about research processes, and taking this particular course, on students’ intentions to pursue graduate studies?

Knowledge sharing: Exchange and presentation of the work at various SFU events as well as within activities of the SFU Esri Canada Centre of Excellence (ECCE).