Evaluating GPS Effectiveness for Natural Resource Professionals: Integrating Undergraduate Students in the Decision-Making Process

Daniel R. Unger, I-Kuai Hung, Yanli Zhang, David L. Kulhavy


Undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BSF) degree at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) attend an intensive 6-week residential hands-on instruction in applied field methods. For students pursuing the BSF degree knowing the exact location of a forestland is crucial to the understanding and proper management of any related natural resource. The intensive 6-week instruction includes teaching how to use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to accurately record the spatial location of an earth’s surface feature. After receiving hands-on instructions during the summer of 2014, students were taken to the field to collect real-world locations. Students compared two different GPS units within a forested setting and learned that the consumer-grade Garmin eTrex 30 was more precise than the Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. Overall objective was to validate the effectiveness of SFA’s hands-on instructional methodology and to integrate undergraduate students in the decision making process of deciding which GPS unit a forester or natural resource manager should use to mark the spatial location of a natural resource. This study demonstrated that incorporating undergraduate students within a field-based research project preceded by hands-on instruction methodology enhances their undergraduate education and produces a more well-rounded society ready forester.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jse.v4i4.6389


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