View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 1.

Summary of the principles used for differentiating classes of the Canadian system of soil classification (based on Soil Classification Working Group, 1998).

 
Class Principle used No. of classes
Order dominant soil-forming process 10
Great group strength of soil-forming process 31
Subgroup type and arrangement of horizons 231
Family parent material characteristics ∼10,000
Series detailed features of the pedon ∼100,000



View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 2.

Examples of the laboratory assignment questions used in the Introduction to Soil Science course at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada, which direct students to use the Virtual Soil Monoliths (VSM) tool.

 
Topic Question
Parent material •At the VSM website find a monolith with (1) a glacial till parent material and (2) a glacio-fluvial parent material. Describe the differences between the two parent materials and identify the most important feature(s) allowing you to tell them apart.
•In the monolith no. 8-02, the parent material is identified as colluvium. What properties are typical for this type of parent material?
Soil classification •Explain what soil formation processes were responsible for formation of the Btg horizon of the monolith no. 4-03.
•In the monolith no. 8-03, no B horizon has been identified. Can this be the case? If yes, please explain what events could have prevented development of the B horizon.



View Full Table | Close Full ViewTable 3.

Feedback responses of the student review team (n = 126), grouped by assessment topic.†

 
Assessment topic No. of respondents that chose
Strongly agree Mildly agree Neutral Mildly disagree
Tool addressed learning objectives
It was effective in facilitating my understanding of soil classification. 30 75 21 0
It was effective in facilitating my understanding of parent material identification. 36 60 24 6
It was effective in facilitating my understanding of soil horizon identification. 24 48 21 33
It was helpful in completing lab assignment on parent material. 42 60 21 3
It was helpful in completing lab assignment on soil classification. 36 60 27 3
Overall appeal of tool
The structure of the tool facilitated my understanding of soil classification. 6 69 36 15
The use of high resolution photos was helpful in understanding soil identification and classification. 27 81 18 0
The use of visual elements enhanced the appeal of the topic (soil classification). 27 72 27 0
The incorporation of weblinks, background material, and supplementary information enhanced the appeal of the topic (soil classification). 24 45 48 9
The presentation of soil classification concepts had a lasting impact on me. 21 51 48 6
I plan to use the tool in the future activities that involve soil classification. 30 54 21 21
The feedback form also included the option “strongly disagree”; however, no respondent chose it for any of the questions. Consequently, this response option is not presented in the table.