Evaluation of ArcView-GIS as a learning tool at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
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The objective ofthe research project is to investigate the use of ArcView-GIS (a Geographical Information Systems software package) to promote cognitive development , at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. To understand the impact of ArcView-GIS as a learning tool will require an understanding ofhow it is used, what learning goals are held by educators and students and the type of assessments used to evaluate student achievement. It is argued that the use of GIS software promotes development of a wide range of skills. A research instrument to measure skills related to visualization, language, mathematics and logics was used to evaluate learners from a number of different groups which included science undergraduates, humanities undergraduates and GIS students (2 groups: one group took the test after the completion and the other group prior to the GIS course). In addition GIS experts and students evaluated the user interface of ArcVIewGIS. Results show that those learners exposed to GIS performed better in all the skills evaluated than any of the other groups. Also, experts and GIS students found the software interface satisfactory. The findings suggest that ArcView-GIS can support higher-order thinking by engaging students in authentic, complex tasks within an appropriate learning context.