Statistics Colloquium
March 16 (Fri) 11 a.m.
Alavi Commons Room, 6625 Everett Tower

Expertise as a Predictor of Time Use during Geologic Field Mapping

Kathleen M. Baker
Department of Geography, Western Michigan University
Heather Petcovic
Department of Geosciences & Mallinson Institute of Science Education,
Western Michigan University

Geologists consider field mapping skills necessary for the development of expertise in geology. We discuss the results of a day-long field mapping exercise in the Tobacco Root Mountains, Montana, USA. Sixty-seven volunteer geologists, chosen specifically to represent a continuum from novice to expert, were asked to create a map of bedrock geology for an approximately 1 km square study area. In order to identify and assess field mapping strategies, global positioning system (GPS) tracks of each participant’s field activities were analyzed using geographic information systems (GIS) and sequence alignment techniques. Initial results indicate differences in time management during the field task between participants with varying levels of mapping expertise. To investigate this result, the field area was divided into thirty-three sub-regions based on topography, vegetation, rock outcrops, and participant traffic. Using these sub-regions, multiple variables such as amount of time spent in each sub-region and the order in which these sub-regions were visited were determined for each participant. Mapping experts and others who are able to produce highly accurate maps recorded similar spatio-temporal sequences during the task. Map quality at critical locations in the region correlates with time use patterns among geologists with previous mapping experience. These relationships do not exist among novice mappers.

All statistics students are expected to attend.


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Department of Statistics
3304 Everett Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5152 USA
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