Benjamin Crosby: Using High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS/GNSS in GEOL 4407: GPS Applications in Research at Idaho State University

About this Course

Upper-division undergraduate course with mostly geology, geotechnology and environmental sciences students. A few students joined from history and the surveying program.


In-semester course. Two 3-hour Friday labs

GPS Applications in Research syllabus (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 120kB Apr23 18)]

I taught two 3-hour labs focused on Kinematic GNSS/GPS for this academic-year GNSS/GPS-focused course. The labs from this module were about two-thirds of the way through the semester so students already had a good grasp of GNSS tools. I went straight to Units 2, 2.1, and 2.2 and the students were well prepared to learn this material. Units 2.1 and 2.2 were outdoor-oriented, doable within the time frame, successful from a student learning perspective, and led to significant student enthusiasm.

One student remarked, "I never imagined that collecting such high precision data would be so easy and enable such useful insights."

My Experience Teaching with GETSI Materials

Because I was testing Units 2, 2.1 and 2.2 in a GNSS-intensive course, I was able to skip directly to the Unit 2 introductory lecture instead of doing Unit 1 first. Students were well prepared for this. I used the same location and data set for the analysis in Units 2.1 and 2.2.

Relationship of GETSI Materials to my Course

The module was implemented two-thirds of the way through a semester-long course focused on GPS/GNSS. The equivalent of Unit 1 was already introduced to students before module testing began. The module material was not referenced again during the remainder of the course.


The students enjoyed the synthetic reports that compared their two data sets and asked questions about what limitations there are to change detection if you are simply comparing topography. If there are not fixed monuments to measure, it is possible that the survey design (where you collect your points) will have a large influence over whether real topographic change is detectable or whether you only observe errors in the interpolation due to different point positioning.


The students had sufficient time to learn, collect and analyze the data, especially given that there was a week between our 3 hour lab sessions. The students performed well, though they did not go very far in their verbal descriptions. The exercise needs to explicitly demand that the students address each point in full.