GEOG 104: Geographic Information Science and Spatial Reasoning

Justin Shepard (TA), Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou (Instructor)

San Diego State University
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This course will introduce fundamental concepts of geographic information science (GIScience), including geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), cartography, remote sensing, and spatial statistics. Advanced geospatial application tools, such as Google Earth, Google Map, and the National Geographic Map Machine will be used to demonstrate these concepts. Students will learn how to use these geospatial technologies and tools in addressing human and environmental problems. Students will be able to organize geospatial data, visualize spatial patterns, and conduct basic spatial query and map overlay functions.

Course URL:
Resource Type: Course Information
Special Interest: GIS
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Course Size:


Course Context:

This is an introductory course designed for students with no GIS experience. Students from any major can take this course to satisfy one of their general education requirements for Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to analyze spatial patterns for clustering

Students should be able to explain how GIS and GPS can be used together for data collection

Students should be able to explain the reason for and applicability of projections

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

The course is structured as a series of lectures and Web-based modules. By ensuring that the lectures relate to the module topic it helps to enhance the students understanding of the discipline. Modules are also created using data and applications freely available to students via the Internet, this is to allow the students access to the applications but also to encourage them to experiment with the applications on their own (beyond just completing the module).

Skills Goals

Student writing
Spatial reasoning
Quantitative analysis

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

Course activities challenge students to think about spatial analysis (perhaps for the first time in a structured setting) and introduces basic quantitative methods. Also, students must complete a series of short answer questions at the end of each module. These short answers are used for evaluation, but they also help the students to improve their written communication.

Attitudinal Goals

Increase student interest in GIS

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

Videos are often used (primarily short videos such as YouTube videos) to show students new technology or how GIS can be applied in real situations.


Student learning is assessed via the module assignments, participation (in class and in the online discussion board), and exams.


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