The use of model experiments and computer simulations for fostering geographical system understanding

–  a treatment-based study using the example soil erosion

Dipl.-Geogr. Svenja Brockmüller
First advisor: Prof. Dr. Alexander Siegmund
Second advisor: Prof. Dr. Stephan Schuler


Estimating the consequences of soil erosion and developing suitable adaptation and conservation strategies are argued to be a challenge for society, especially against the background of regional impacts of global climate change. Understanding geographical systems is essential in this context, because people can only get involved in the sustainable development of regions if they recognize and understand the complex relationships between humans and the environment.

Thus, from an educational viewpoint, the focus of research is finding best ways to enhance this competence to understand geographical systems. Therefore, the ongoing study compares differences between three groups of pupils working with different methodological approaches. During the intervention, the students record, analyze and evaluate the complex influencing factors on soil erosion by means of

(1)   hands-on experiments (based on irrigated reference soil boxes),

(2)   abstract computer simulations (based on mathematical soil loss equations), and

(3)   a combination of both approaches.

Pre-post comparison is meant to show which approach helps students to understand selected aspects of geographic systems most effectively.

For first results please see the project poster (2.4 MB).



Illustration of the three treatments used in the study



Project period: 2014 - 2019

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