Where is that feature on a map?
Students are shown a map or aerial image of a location that will be discussed in class and asked to click on the location. The results are displayed with points or as a heat map at the front of the class and then discussed.
Content/concept goals for this activity
Students will be able to identify the location of features on a map.
Context for Use
This activity is used as a formative assessment in an introductory-level geoscience course.
How the activity is situated in the course
This activity is used as a formative assessment within a lecture or lab where students will discuss the location of features or phenomena such as volcanoes, faults, rivers, upwelling, etc. Instructors often assume that students know where the features they mention in class are located on a map; this assumption should be checked to ensure students understand the context of class discussion.
Maps and aerial images should be introduced and key features discussed in class prior to beginning this activity.
Description and Teaching Materials
Example of how to implement this exercise in the classroom
The instructor asks students to click on the location of a general or specific feature which will be important to the ensuing discussion. This can be reiterated with different features until all students are clicking on the correct location.
- At the beginning of the semester, an unlabeled map of the world could be displayed and students asked to click on specified continents or oceans.
- Prior to the beginning of a discussion of subduction, a satellite image of South America could be displayed and students asked to click on the west coast, the Andes Mountains, etc.
- Prior a discussion of hot spots, a satellite image of the Pacific Ocean could be displayed and students asked to click on the West Coast of the U.S., the Hawaiian Islands, etc.
After each iteration, the class should discuss the responses displayed with a focus on how students figured out the correct location and why some students mis-located the position. The discussion should include direction, distance/scale, and features used as reference points.
To orient students to cardinal directions, ask students to click on the north side or corner (as appropriate) of the map/image, then the east, west, and south sides or corners.
Teaching Notes and Tips
- The class will need to have access to software (e.g., a web-application) and hardware (e.g., a smart phone, tablet, etc.) that allows students to click on displayed imagery.
- Maps and aerial images should be introduced and key features discussed in class.
- If the clicker software displays responses real-time, the instructor may wish to display a blank screen until all students have responded.
- This exercise can be completed without clickers by providing students with printed maps/aerial images and asked to place their finger on their location (without looking at other students' maps). The instructor can then walk around and check, share the correct location on a display, and/or students can check with each other.
- Using both maps and aerial images can allow students to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each.
This is primarily useful for self-assessment prior to the instructor using maps and imagery to discuss features associated with various phenomena.