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Kisser, Thomas (2014): Außerunterrichtliche Lernorte: Die (Weiter-)Entwicklung von Lernpfaden zu einem Netz von Geopunkten mit Hilfe der Geocache-Methode: Empirische Untersuchung zur Exkursionsdidaktik. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Geosciences



The study deals with the two main problems in geographical education: How to inform students about a spatial practicing learning and teaching and how to evaluate this form of learning in comparison to theoretical non spatial forms of learning. The classic form of spatial learning is the outdoor excursion. But there are some new and actual alternatives when realizing the former intended aims of a spatial learning, so for instance didactical pathways, field trips or field works, but also the new way of geocaching and learning by GPS when dealing with the themes of orientation or finding out points of geographic importance for explaining the genetic processes. The necessary skills can be combined to improve the success of learning and to maximize the motivation. The base of this motivation behavior is the existence of a hide and seek-game as a modern version of a scavenger hunt. This motivates the students and is furthermore the attraction of Geocaching. Methodical skills can also be trained very automatically during this search. The GPS devices are of common use in the daily life and its use may increase much more in the fu-ture and in geographical use, too. Nowadays the literature about this theme is merely descriptive and thematically reduced to the function of orientation. The first study describing the learning suc-cess of using GPS devices and Geocaches in geography class had been made by NEEB. She tested the variation of the competence of orientation in different old classes when examining the use of GPS devices and Geocaches. Even though GPS devices and Geocaches are very efficient for instructing the students’ competence of orientation there may be the question, in what forms and circumstances the learning can be done. The time and effort necessary to generate a didactical and educational trail has to be justified against the background of the achieved learning effect. Educational trails need students, walking outside of the schools, looking for information along teaching paths and learning by the results. This active experienced learning leads to a better understanding of the environment, the outdoor circumstances and the people living in this area. You can structure such educational trails by Geopoints, this means points of a special geographic interest. Geocaches can structure such paths didactically. These structuring points are GEOpoints. The tasks at such Geopoints are structured didactical as well. GPS devices and Geocaches are complementing one another. They fulfill an important function in geographic orientation and the respective local information. Two important ministries in Germany (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg) demand the use of extra¬curri-cu¬lar educational objectives in geography education. This means: visiting locations outside of the school and using the advantages of a fully learning by excursions. Neurobiology supports the idea that pupils completing the educational trail will learn much more and efficiently than students in “normal” classes: Indeed: A successful contextualization of modern geomedia stimulates the motivation. Geocaches are suitable for didactical structuration and motivation. A better and more comprehensive addressing to all senses will lead to a better sustainability. When testing the advantage of excursional learning comparing the same themes with a classical learning at school you have to differ within the students capacity of learning and the cognitive and methodical competence. For 17years aged students the theme of “Umgestaltung von Flusslandschaften“ (rearrangements of fluvial topography) was chosen because using this example of anthropogenic rearrangements of the Rheinaue wetlands near Karlsruhe shows the interdependency between human and environment was in the direct neighborhood of the students. Therefore the excursion could be realized very good without long transports. The “Nördlinger Ries” between the Swabian and the Franconian Jura is an impact-crater of world-wide importance. This location had been chosen for Students of grade 5 (10 years old students). The themes to work out were: The typical elements of the Swabian Jura (karst formation, hydrogeology, typical vegetation) and the special forms of the impact tectonics. The sustainability of educational trails using GPS had been evaluated by the answers of 441 ques-tionnaires. In grade 5 a multiple-choice-test had to be answered while grade 11 had to answer open questions in complete sentences. The influence of the teachers on the overall result is being kept low through the random selection, the number of the comparison groups and the teaching manuals. The overall results of these questionnaires show that the students of grade 5 which completed the educations trail achieved 11% higher scores in areas of the cognitive performance compared to the students who experienced classical learning at school. In grade 11 the students who completed the educational trail received 5% higher scores. Both differences in the results are significant and show a magnitude of effect, which is high in certain items. Consequently, the study has proven that educational trails evocate better cognitive performances than classical learning at school. The current state of research suggests that the development of environmental trails from teachers for teachers is not sustainable because the teachers don’t have the time to refine environmental trails didactically. The experience while creating the educational trails and the feedback of the participant teachers showed that teachers should cooperate for creating educational trails. The strain for each single person is reduced and the regularly use of the educational trails can be assured.