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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Timothy L. Nyerges
GEOG 460
Seattle Campus

Geographic Information Systems Analysis

Methods of Analysis provided by geographic information systems (GIS). Operations on map information including map overlay, aggregation/disaggregation, and other spatial and attribute procedures. Exposure to raster and vector software. Review of capabilities of current available GIS software. Prerequisite: 2.0 in GEOG 360. Offered: A.

Class description

Geography 460 is an intermediate course that examines the theory and application of geographic information systems (GIS). It combines an overview of general principles of geographic information science and practical experience in the analytical use of geospatial information. The lectures introduce students to the analytical treatment of geographic information using several frameworks for understanding data, software operations, and systems. The course adopts a thematic focus on coastal concerns in the Puget Sound Region. Coastal is defined as the watershed basins that drain into Puget Sound as well as the water of Puget Sound. Several readings that support both the GIS and the coastal concepts are made available through .pdf on a password protected web site.

Student learning goals

understand the challenges, intellectual benefits and costs of integrated data processing strategies with GIS, particularly within landscape contexts of water resource and coastal region management and sustainability issues. These strategies include (but are not limited to) problem definition, database design, data collection, data structuring, data analysis, and information presentation.

master the use of several GIS data processing strategies as applied through hands-on use of GIS software to complete laboratory assignments as practice in critical enquiry.

experience the process of working in groups in order to encourage a broader and deeper understanding about the value of using geographic information to address complex geographic issues within a context of a pluralistic society, i.e., a society that mediates multi-valued interests for overall improvement.

General method of instruction

Students work with lecture concepts and learn skills in laboratory assignments, discussion sessions and a final project, the latter undertaken in student teams. Lab assignments take place in the Geography Department's Sherman Lab as hands on experience with ESRI's ArcGIS. The lab assignments, and particularly the final project will require additional hours of work outside of the lab session according to the U of Washington guidelines that 2 hours of outside work are expected for every hour of class time. In the lecture and the labs we make use of a coastal data model that was developed as an integration of the ArcMarine and ArcHydro data models to investigate interaction of the landscape and marine environments of coastal areas. Students are expected to participate in discussion sessions on a diverse range of pertinant geographic information topics and applications. Web resources will provide lecture notes, lab assignment materials, case study materials and sources for geographic data and analysis at UW and around the world.

Recommended preparation

Geography 360 or equivalent.

Class assignments and grading

- Exam 1 (short answer essay questions) (20% of final grade) - Exam 2 (short answer essay questions) (30% of final grade) - Six lab assignments with an increasing percentage of points across the quarter. (40% of final grade) - Final project design, development, presentation, and paper report (10% of final grade) - Peer review learning assessment (final project will not be graded unless submitted)

Grades are assigned by instructor assessment of the exams and lab assignments. Instructor grades exams. TA's grade lab assignments, however, faculty instructor has final responsbility for all grading.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
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Last Update by Timothy L. Nyerges
Date: 08/30/2007