The potential contribution of digital aerial and remote sensing images to systemic thinking within the framework of education for sustainable development

Dipl.-Geogr. Markus Jahn
First advisor: Prof. Dr. Alexander Siegmund

In geography, space-related information is traditionally conveyed using maps. However, map information is encoded as symbols. In contrast, aerial images and satellite images depict space-related information in a way that appears more realistic, giving image viewers insight into spatial structures and relationships. Through the comparison of images, spatial and temporal changes and processes become observable, too.

In the dissertation, the potential of aerial/satellite imagery to provide space-related information, which allows students to develop systems thinking in the context of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), is under investigation. Interconnected thinking is a central component of systems thinking, which is one of the major educational goals of the ESD. In context of ESD, systems thinking pertains to the conceptual as well as structural knowledge on different levels.

In order to conduct the investigation, a four-hour intervention has been developed dealing with lignite mining and its social, economic and environmental impacts. Overall, 294 students from 11th to 13th grade participated. While the treatment group worked with aerial/satellite images, the comparison group analyzed topographic maps. Concept Maps (CM) have been used as the central tool to grasp and diagnose the students´ systems thinking-related knowledge.

Conclusions regarding the "efficacy" of the different media to provide adequate space-related information and be an impulse for further thoughts will be drawn based on a diagnosis of the knowledge given in two CM of each student. The first CM is based on their previous knowledge, the second one is a version modified during the treatment. The evaluation will be performed in a predominantly qualitative manner regarding their correctness and relevance to the topic. The evaluation will be done  by two raters.




Which medium enables students in a better way to think in interconnections in the context of ESD: aerial/satellite images or topographic maps?


Project start: 2009

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