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Using virtual mapping to learn about the community
A pin on a map
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Community engagement
Research project

How to Cite

Waity, Julia, Jennifer Vanderminden, and Jack Resnick. (2023) 2023. “Using Virtual Mapping to Learn about the Community”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, May. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Codification of observed activity and physical data is a valuable skill for any emergent social scientist; one method to achieve this is data-driven community mapping. However, mapping as a method can often be overwhelming and challenging to students who have so far only dealt in the theoretical and the observed.  We as educators can anticipate this by...

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Subject Area(s):
Applied Sociology/Evaluation Research, Community, Sociological Practice
Resource Type(s):
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

 See attached document

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Through the completion of this activity and with the aid of a virtually constructed environment, students will understand how to code data on a map and create a coding system for gathered physical data.
  2. Through the completion of this activity, students will demonstrate a working understanding of how physical/spatial determinants of crime are portrayed within the world around them and interpret what mapped data means.
  3. Through the usage of virtual environment software, students will be able to apply methodology to social issues around them and formulate research questions from the derived data.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students will mark indicators on the shared Google Earth map to denote physical determinants as well as indicate their data prevalence within a shared spreadsheet. Faculty checked a random sample of codes in the spreadsheet for accuracy and worked with the students throughout the process to discuss which codes were unclear, how this could impact...
  2. Students will interpret the virtual mapping experience (how did it feel as well as what they learned) as part of the written component of the assignment and through class discussion.
  3. Students will describe hypotheses, assess the information they found, and explain their findings within a written reflection activity. They also reflected on the challenges they faces and how they can use the skills they’ve gained in other courses/future projects.

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