Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Teaching, Learning, and Technology

First Adviser

Bodzin, Alec M.

Other advisers/committee members

Hammond, Thomas C.; Sawyer, L. Brook; Lasker, Judith


Geospatial thinking and reasoning skills (GSTR) are currently not routinely integrated into public health curriculum for undergraduate students in institutions of higher education. However, integrating GSTR skills into curriculum has been shown to increase spatial thinking skills which leads to better cognitive thinking and problem solving skills. An Examining Vector Borne Disease Transmission (EVBDT) curriculum unit was developed using the geospatial curriculum approach to investigate malaria, dengue fever and zika disease patterns and spread in relation to the environment and to promote GSTR. The purpose of this design based research study was to understand public health content learning and GSTR skill acquisition with undergraduate learners through use of the geospatial curriculum approach. The undergraduate students who participated in this study (n = 95) were enrolled in public health content classes at two separate institutions. Data was collected for this study using a classroom observation instrument, pre-test and post-test measures for the Spatial Habits of the Mind (SHOM) survey, a pre-test, post-test 1 and delayed post-test 2 EVBDT assessment that included public health content and GSTR skill items, as well as a post implementation survey to understand students’ perceptions of GIS use in the curriculum. Findings demonstrated significant mean differences showing growth in public health content learning and GSTR skills. Three GSTR subscales - inferences, relationships, and reasoning – resulted in significant gains. Additionally, results revealed complete adherence to the design principles of the geospatial curriculum approach during implementation. The findings provide support that Web GIS with appropriate curriculum design can engage students and impact both learning outcomes and geospatial thinking and reasoning skills in public health education.