GIS Resource Portfolio

Barbara and David Tewksbury, Hamilton College


In this semester-long project, students develop a GIS resource portfolio that will be useful to them for future GIS tasks. You might also be interested in our Full GIS course with links to all assignments.


Type and level of course
Entry level GIS course for geoscience students.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment

Software required for this assignment/activity:
This assignment could be done with any software, although we use ArcGIS 10.6.

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
Semester-long project


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment

Other content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Reflection about what a student has learned; development of a useful resource, not just a collection of stuff.

Description of the activity/assignment

GIS techniques, data sources, and other resources are so numerous and varied that, even if someone is doing GIS work regularly, it's common to say, "Now how did I do that last time?" or "Where did I get that data?". One of the main goals of my GIS course is to have students create a personal GIS portfolio that will be useful to them in the future, either for projects at Hamilton or in a job after graduation.
Portfolios must include, at a minimum, a spreadsheet of data sources and information about downloading and prepping data from each site; an annotated Word doc of useful web sites; a DVD collection of projects and data from the course; and an organized notebook that contains the items listed above plus all class handouts, exercises, and printouts of products.

What I stress in this assignment is that portfolios need to be more than collections of GIS stuff – they must be useful for the future. To make portfolios useful for the future, students have to give significant thought not only to organization but how they will be able to find information in their portfolios in the future and how they can build indexes, annotations, flow charts, etc. to make their portfolios more than a collection of pieces of paper in a binder.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Each student's portfolio is reviewed using a rubric (download below) three times during the semester, once after the first two exercises, once mid-semester, and once at the end of the semester. Portfolio evaluation is based on completeness, organization, and, above all, future usefulness (does it meet the Three Year Rule, let alone the Three Week Rule?).
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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