Independent GIS Synthesis Project

Brian Hynek, University of Colorado


A capstone project consisting of independent research and communication of scientific results.


Type and level of course
capstone project for an entry-level GIS class.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
Knowledge of the problem at hand. Ability to research a scientific problem and find the data necessary to answer it.

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
Broad swath of entry-level GIS knowledge, depending on project selected.

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcGIS 9.3 and extensions as needed. Excel or equivalent? Adobe Photoshop?

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
one month


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
This month-long, culminating independent research project is meant for students to synthesize and apply their GIS knowledge to a real world problem and communicate their results to their peers in a formal manner.

Other content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Synthesis of GIS knowledge and application of methods/analyses.

Description of the activity/assignment

The final month of my entry level class is spent having students complete independent research projects using the GIS skills they have learned. They research a problem, find the appropriate data, get it into a GIS, manipulate and analyze it, study their results, and report their findings in a conference-type poster presentation.

Determining whether students have met the goals

A rubric is used to assess the poster presentations, including the amount/difficulty of GIS operations performed, use of appropriate data, critical interpretation of results, and presentation of findings to the class. Poster construction and oral presentation are also evaluated.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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