GIS and Remote Sensing > Student outcomes

"THE LIST": Ideal student outcomes from an intro GIS or remote sensing course

At the 2010 workshop, we asked workshop participants as well as presenters from government and industry* to develop a profile of the ideal student coming out of an introductory GIS or remote sensing course. A strong consensus emerged that provides important guidance for those who teach GIS and remote sensing.


Not surprisingly, everyone's lists included basic competence in GIS or remote sensing software skills, plus a functional knowledge of the fundamentals and terminology of projections, coordinate systems, the electromagnetic spectrum, data structures, resolutions, data management, etc.

What is more interesting is that all of the lists (particularly the employers' lists) emphasized competences that go beyond the nuts and bolts and basic knowledge of GIS and remote sensing. These competences include abilities to:

All profiles emphasized the importance of independence, critical thinking, and communication.

In terms of independence, students should be able to:

In terms of critical thinking, students should be able to:

In terms of communication, students should be able to:

Implications for teaching GIS and remote sensing

If the focus of a course is on teaching technique using step-by-step instructions with data provided by the instructor, students will not achieve many of the important goals listed above. If students are to become good at, for example, finding and prepping their own data, they must have practice. The same thing is true if we want them to be good at planning an analysis or with communicating results. GIS and remote sensing courses should incorporate practice in these critical skills as an integral part of the course.

*Panelists included:

Contributions were also made by the workshop participants.