Linking teaching and research in remote sensing through Enquiry-Based Learning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Enquiry-based learning (EBL) is active and student-led. It encourages deeper learning by requiring students to take greater responsibility for the learning process, helping them to become more aware of how they learn as well as what they learn. When the content also draws on real-life studies, it can improve student motivation. However, good real-world scenarios take time to put together, so are seen by some as competing with time for research. This paper stresses the nexus between research and consultancy on the one hand and teaching on the other by using examples from the tutor’s own experience to develop realistic EBL scenarios. They were part of a final year undergraduate unit in remote sensing within a Geography degree, and were developed while the author was an EBL Fellow at the Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning at Manchester University. The example described here was based on the author’s participation in a consultancy workshop for the Scottish government whose purpose was to advise on the use of remote sensing for assessing the rate and extent of erosion in vulnerable organic soils. The scenario given to students was the closely based on the one supplied to the invited panel of academics. Student 'consultancy’ teams were required to tender for a pilot project. They worked over four weeks (of two-hour sessions per week) to develop and present their solution, justifying the sampling design and sensors chosen. There was a Q&A session to obtain further information, where the tutor played the role of the government officer commissioning the advice. The output was an oral presentation, which was formatively assessed. Summative assessment was a reflective log on the learning process. The remote sensing content was assessed in an examination question. The EBL process and skills developed at each stage were explained prior to the exercise and students were asked to reflect in their learning logs on the extent to which their experience mapped onto this. Reflective logs and course evaluations show the very positive response to this mode of learning. Students commented on the way in which it helped to reinforce concepts learned earlier in the course and served as an excellent springboard to revision. Advantages and disadvantages of the approach will be discussed, and related to educational theory on EBL.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherEuropean Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL)
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
EventEARSeL Education and Traning Special Interest Group Workshop - Prague
Duration: 31 May 20111 Jun 2011


ConferenceEARSeL Education and Traning Special Interest Group Workshop


  • Enquiry-based learning
  • Remote Sensing
  • Client-based project


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