Instructional geocaching: an analysis of GPS receivers as tools for technology integration into a middle school classroom

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University of Alabama Libraries

The purpose of this study was to investigate how the instructional use of GPS through instructional geocaching activities engages students and promotes achievement in a middle school social studies classroom. The impact of instructional geocaching on addressing the needs of students with various learning styles was also examined. In addition, the researcher identified student perceptions of geocaching activities and differences between recreational geocaching and instructional uses of geocaching. Pretest and posttest scores were used to collect quantitative data in two phases of the study. The experimental groups, who participated in the instructional geocaching activity to learn the content, and control groups, who participated in a traditional classroom activity to learn the content, were reversed in each phase. Findings revealed that the instructional geocaching activity produced significant achievement gains in the second phase of the study. However, no significant differences in achievement were found between students with different learning styles in either the experimental or control groups. In the third phase, a survey instrument was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data on student perceptions and engagement during an instructional geocaching activity. A significant difference in engagement during the GPS activity was found between kinesthetic and visual learners. However, student engagement was not found to be a significant predictor for student achievement during this study. From the survey data, three factors were determined to represent the student perceptions of the GPS activity: fun, perception of learning, and motivation. Furthermore, the qualitative data revealed that students enjoyed the hands-on and active learning experience that was provided by the instructional geocaching activity. Implications for educators who plan to integrate instructional geocaching activities into the curriculum are discussed. Recommendations for similar research with larger populations, longer treatment periods, and other subject areas are made. Suggestions are also included for future research on the relationship of instructional geocaching activities to other learning style theories and critical thinking skills.

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Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Technology, Instructional design