Introduction to GIS

Margaret E. (Beth) McMillan

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This course introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the use of spatial data for problem-solving in science. The lecture portion of the course focuses on the different representations of spatial data and on the processes involved in acquiring, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying spatially-referenced information. The laboratory portion employs a project-based methodology to foster basic GIS software proficiency.

Course URL:
Resource Type: Course Information
Special Interest: GIS
Grade Level: Graduate/Professional, College Upper (15-16)
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an upper-division undergraduate course and graduate course. It is a required course for our Environmental Geology majors, an elective for our Geology majors, and required for our Geospatial Technology Certificate graduate students. It is a consent of instructor course, as it is the only GIS course on our campus, so it serves students in other majors as well.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to manage computer files.
Students should be able to acquire and create spatial data from online sources, GPS instruments, and digitization methods.
Students should be able to utilize traditional and emerging resources in order to extend their proficiency in using GIS as a problem solving tool.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

At the beginning of the course, I assign lab exercises in which step-by-step procedures are well documented. I use ESRI online modules for some labs, and screen capture software with written instructions for others. Later in the semester, I use exercises that refer the students back to earlier lab procedures, or refer them to online software "Help" resources and GIS usergroup forums. Some students do not like this and have made comments on their course evaluations that they felt I did not know how to use the software. However, my intent is to deliberately force them to learn how to use as many available resources as they can because it simulates the working environment they will face, whether in industry, government agencies or advanced education. I assess whether they have met the course goals through a computer exercise portion on each exam. I allow use of all resources during this part of the exam.



Syllabus for Introduction to GIS (Acrobat (PDF) 34kB May27 10)

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