Using Project EDDIE modules in ENV 310 Advanced GIS

Kristen Brubaker, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

About this Course

ENV 310 Advanced GIS

Lecture and Lab

Upper Level Undergraduate


students in the course



EDDIE Module(s) Adopted and/or Adapted

This lab helped teach real-world spatial patterns in the context of an advanced GIS class. Often, my students in this class get so focused on finishing up the GIS component, that they don't think much about the real-world applications of what they're doing. This lab had the science content as the forefront, and the GIS methods as a tool to answer the question. Students were getting engaged with the science and the patterns they were seeing, rather than just completing the lab.

Jump to: Course Context | Teaching Details | How It Went | Future Use

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

Students had extensive experience with rasters and terrain data, but most had never used R. I used this module after I taught remote sensing, lidar, and terrain analysis. Students read one paper (Dahlin et al., 2012) prior to the start of our lab.

Teaching Details

I used the powerpoint to introduce the lab. I gave the students the full script since they had limited experience using R. Students only had to change the path names to their files. The students spent one lab period completing activities A and B, and then we used an additional lab period to talk through the macroscale patterns. Because of some logistical complications this semester, there was a lab session in between the two class sessions students worked on this module. In the future, I would try not to let that happen.

Adaption Materials

presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 5.7MB May12 21)

Student handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 196kB May12 21)

How did the activity go?

Activities A and B went very well. Students were able to run the R code very easily, and were engaged in the patterns they were seeing. Part three was a little more challenging as some of the sites in the folder didn't seem to have data, or it was difficult to see patterns in some of the locations. I think a bit more curation of the optional field sites would have been helpful.

I think my students were able to learn about some real-world applications of the terrain variables we've been learning about in class, and had a chance to think about how vegetation patterns may change in different places. Some of my students didn't have great stats backgrounds or skills, so some of them were confused about the questions on correlation. We also didn't get all the packages to work to run the final code to build the broad scale map of correlations.

Future Use

This instructor story and adaption materials were developed during a Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network in partnership with QUBES in the Spring of 2021.



Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network logo

We had some issues with the R platform in the classroom that I didn't anticipate, since I had been using R problem free in a different class I was teaching. I didn't understand all of the potential complications with using different packages on different platforms, so in the future I will work more directly with our IT department to ensure compatibility of platforms.

I would also teach more explicitly on the front-end about correlation and statistical tools for analyzing patterns. I may also look at some of the other sites to see if I can find one that has a slightly more intuitive pattern of vegetation/topography. I may also pick a few sites for them to explore, versus just letting them pick. I also stretched out the lab to be almost two weeks, which was too long.