The Inquiring with GIS (iGIS) Project: Helping Teachers Create and Lead Local GIS-Based Investigations

  • Cathlyn D. StylinskiEmail author
  • Cassie Doty


Local environmental investigations can engage students with science content, while helping link prior knowledge to new understanding. Geospatial technologies offer a powerful visualization and analysis tool for these community-based activities; however, they present many challenges for classroom teachers. The Inquiring with GIS (iGIS) project sought to take advantage of the benefits of geospatial technologies as a tool for teaching and learning while addressing these challenges. Local investigations are a valuable and effective approach to learning, and this project draws on that theory alongside established features of effective teacher professional development: focus on content knowledge, proximity to practice (including curriculum-link training), active learning, coherence, collective participation, extended duration, and access to necessary classroom resources. This approach helped ensure high participant retention and classroom implementation. The findings indicate that, with the appropriate resources, teachers new to GIS can adapt GIS-based investigations for their local communities. The results also highlight the value of integrating informal education experience within K-12 teacher professional development. Ultimately, education practitioners and researchers need to better understand the long-term impacts of technology-based professional development on teaching practices as well as understand how effective strategies support the integration of geospatial technologies in the classroom.


Community-based Local investigations Watersheds Youth education 



This work is supported by National Science Foundation grants (#0422545, 0533730, and 07573990). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Special thanks to PASCO Scientific for lending field probes and providing discounted school-wide licenses for the My World GIS software. Thanks also to iGIS staff members, school administrators, and, most of all, iGIS participants for their hard work, support, and enthusiasm of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Appalachian LaboratoryUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceCambridgeUSA

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