School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems

The University of New South Wales

Modern Electronic Versions of Worked Examples in Survey Computations

by Adam Long

Supervised by Dr. B. R. Harvey

Edited by Assoc. Prof. J. M. Rüeger

October 2002



My thesis deals with the conversion of standard text- based survey computation worked examples into modern electronic versions.  The conversion was to enhance the existing worked examples by adding annotated colour images, such as maps, plans, photos, diagrams and fully developed Excel worksheets. 

The main aim of the modern electronic worked examples is to increase the understanding of a number of survey computations by providing both a visualisation and a step-by-step solution to the problem.  It was hoped that, once a problem can be visualised and broken down into sub-problems, it will help students overcome the initial confusion experienced when facing a survey computation.  The electronic worked examples are based on problems found in first, second and third year surveying subjects and vary in difficulty.  The success of the modern electronic worked examples has been evaluated by interviewing first, second and third year students.  The interviews asked the students their opinions and preference between the old black and white text-based worked examples and the modern electronic versions.


Characteristics of The Worked Examples

The worked examples had to be easy to read so that students could understand and comprehend the required concepts.  This was a major factor in the designing and writing of the examples. The new ‘student friendly’ worked examples were on the following topics:

    1.      Coordinate Calculations

    2.      Loop Traverse Adjustments

    3.      Detail Survey Calculations

    4.      Deposited Plan Calculations

    5.      Volume by Least Squares


A smaller version of the Coordinate Calculations example can be downloaded here


The examples are given to the students as PDF files through a web page from where they are downloaded.  The Least Squares example is presented as a suite of Excel files as they offer more educational value than just a non-dynamic PDF file.  The worked examples follow a standard format with the following steps:

  1. Question

  2. Quick Answer

  3. Visualisation of the Problem

  4. Solving the Problem Using Formulae and Calculators

  5. Solving the Problem Using Excel

  6. Providing Excel Formula Output

  7. How to Check the Answer

  8. Another Question for the Student to Complete and Check Themselves


Use of Graphics

Graphics and images were used frequently in the worked examples.  If there was a concept that was hard to grasp, or problem that was hard to describe, an image was used to help students visualise the problem or concept.  The graphics were also provided to create motivation for the user.  The manner in which the graphics were used was also important.  The selected graphics supplemented the text rather than replaced it, and did not interfere with the acquisition of schema.  An example below shows how the detail survey problem was visualised, and how the concept of trigonometric heighting was derived.


Figure 1:  Image showing how the components used in the formulas are related to the real world.


Figure 2:  This image shows students where each component of the EDM heighting formula is derived from.


Evaluation and Conclusion

Overall, the worked examples were received well by the students.  They found them to be easy to understand and comprehend and, if given the chance, would use them if they were available.  The use of images and diagrams makes the examples more appealing to students and motivates them to complete and learn the topic’s objectives and concepts.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. B. R. Harvey


School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems
University of New South Wales

Phone: +61-2-9385-4186
Fax: +61-2-9313-7493
Mr. Adam Long