The Web Soil Survey

Mark Bowen
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
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Initial Publication Date: November 24, 2014


Students use the brower-based Web Soil Survey to answer a variety of questions about the soils their campus has been built on

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The activity is used in an online undergraduate introductory physical geography course. The focus of the course is landforms and soils. The course is predominantly composed of non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered


How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise that reinforces concepts introduced in lecture.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Gain familiarity with the Natural Resource Conservation Service Web Soil Survey
  • Navigate the Web Soil Survey
  • Determine properties of soils
  • Link soil properties to geomorphic processes
  • Understand how soil properties are related to land use suitability

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This is a basic introductory online exercises that introduces students to the Web Soil Survey. Students navigate to their campus, create an "Area of Interest" soil map, and utilize the data contained within the Web Soil Survey to answer a variety of questions. Students are then asked to evaluate whether or not the soils are suitable for campus buildings.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students complete the exercise during the week it is assigned. Upon completion of the laboratory exercise, students must complete an online quiz that consists of the same questions in the exercise. The online quiz is within the Desire 2 Learn (D2L) online learning platform, so answers are automatically graded and imported into the student's grade book.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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