Mind maps as an integration and decision making tool in introductory level Geohazards course

Thursday 2:15pm E Building 220
Oral Session Part of Thursday Oral Session B


Mercy Achang, University of Delaware
Lauren Kelly, University of Delaware

Encouraging critical thinking and the integration of information to solve real-life problems is key as it assists in building lifelong learning skills applicable in any space. Helping students build these skills early will give them an edge in life. However, most students taking introductory-level geological hazard courses view these hazards as separate with little to no correlation to their daily lives, especially when deciding where to set up businesses and purchase properties. The objective of this work is to have students design a mind map that allows them to integrate information about geologic hazards and use the mind maps to make real-life decisions. From geological hazard instructions, students are required to establish tables that contain the geologic processes, impacts, measurement tools, mitigation, and safety measures. From the tables, students choose four hazards in their area of origin and make a mindmap that they use in deciding where to obtain a property or business. Results from students' projects are remarkable as students think critically, ask questions about their environment, identify where the hazards superimpose and make inferences for their career and living choices. The project heightened students' curiosity by promoting inquiry-based learning and other executive functioning, like decision-making for real-life experiences.

Context for Use

The activity is carried out in an introductory level geological hazard course. Geological hazards such as Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Flooding, Mass wasting, Climate change, and Coastal hazards are taught during the semester and students are required to establish tables that contain the geologic processes and location, impacts, measurement tools, mitigation and safety measures of these hazards. These tables are completed progressively and four are chosen at the end of the semester to complete the final project which is a mind map. Once the mind map is complete, students have a full picture of common hazards in their community and can now use it to decide on which areas are great to purchase a property or set up a business.

From geological hazard instructions, students make tables of the hazards and this is done progressively so that students are not overwhelmed but gather the materials required for their final project. All the information used for the Mindmaps is from the tables they constructed over the semester. Placing this information on a mindmap gives the students a big-picture view and clear linkages between the hazards are easily identified. Hence the effectiveness of the project. Students have said, "I never understood the relationship between the hazards but as soon as I placed them on the mind map it became really clear to me". Also integrating the hazards to decide on where to call home or business site is key because these hazards are linked and not isolated. Students easily see how all the sections of the class integrate with the mind map.