Introduction to GIS

NRM 444

Spring 2008

Stillwell 354


Instructor:                         Dr. Ron Davis   

Office:                              Stillwell 318

Phone:                              x2726

Office Hours:                   MWF 1:30-3:00

NOTE:  I have an open door policy and am frequently in my office when not teaching.  Please feel free to stop by my office.


***Given the amount of information, complexity of the software this course has proven frustrating to some.  The best advice I can give is 1) Don’t let the work get ahead of you, 2) ASK for help when you need it, 3) In lab pay attention to what you’re doing and why—don’t just rush through the exercises to get them done, and 4) Don’t skip lectures. ***


I. Purpose


Students will apply the tools and techniques of GIS to the analysis of spatial data and for the purpose of problem solving, planning, and management of resources in the natural or other fields.


II. Course Objectives: 


Be able to integrate vector and raster based data and apply the various tools and techniques of

GIS to locate, quantify, and analyze spatial features.

Be able to edit existing data, develop new layers (including the use a GPS to collect location data) and incorporate this into a GIS database

Be able to apply concepts of image analysis and photo interpretation to produce landcover maps of spatial features

Be able to develop and apply spatial models to the study of earth features and processes


III. Course Materials



 IV. Expectations of Students/Course Policies (Amendments will be announced in class)                   

Academic Integrity:  You are encouraged to share ideas, discuss questions, and work together with your classmates in such a way as to further your individual and collective understanding and proficiency of the concepts and skills presented in this course.  However, I expect each of you to submit original, independent work and adhere to the policies set forth in the University Catalog and Student Handbook.  Academic dishonesty of any kind is not acceptable.  Be sure to cite all work and ideas that are not your own and reference all citations.  See the University Writing Center website for information regarding plagiarism.  Failure to comply with the University policy on academic integrity can result in a zero for the specific assignment, a failing grade for the course, University disciplinary action or any combination thereof.


What you should expect from me:




Use of the GIS Lab:  Priority use of the GIS lab is for those students enrolled in the GIS or Remote Sensing courses.  Occasionally, other classes will use the lab though it will be open regularly for you to work on class projects.  Specific hours will be posted.  NOTE:  Use of the lab for other class work, email, internet etc. is fine UNLESS it interferes with someone else’s access for GIS or Remote Sensing related work.

Individuals with Disabilities Statement: Western Carolina University is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students with documented disabilities.  Students who require disability services or reasonable accommodations must identify themselves as having a disability and provide current diagnostic documentation to Disability Services.  All information is confidential.  Please contact Kimberly Marcus for more information.  Phone: (828) 227-7234;      

V. Grading Procedures:  With the exception of some in class exercises used for discussions, all work will be graded and returned to you.  Assignments will be designed to provide a variety of approaches to learning. 



Percentage of Grade



Lab Exercises




Final Examination



Approximate point values––The proportions listed above will apply to whatever the final point total ends up to be, but the approximate breakdown (w/revised lab schedule) is as follows.



Grading Scale:  Grades will be assigned according to the scale shown below. 


Percentage Grade

Letter grade



90 – 92


87 – 89


83 – 86


80 – 82


77 – 79


73 – 76


70 – 72








Below 60



** PLEASE NOTE:  I do not disclose/discuss grade information by email or phone so if you need to discuss your grade please see me in person.

 Tentative Course Schedule


Report Notes

  GIS Data Sources, Map and Projections Exercise 1: GIS Data
3-5  Spatial Analsis: Vector Data  Chapter 6 (3 & 4 in part)
  Selections & Queries by Attribute and Location Exercise 2: Projections
  Extracting and Overlaying: Clip, Buffer, Exercise 3: Vector Analyses
  Creating, Managing, and Integrating Data Sources Project 1:
6-8 Spatial Analysis: Raster Data  Chapter 5, 8, 9
  Image and Photo interpreation Exercise 4: Raster Analysis
  Raster Calculations and Basic Modeling Project 2 Assigned
    Exam 1
  Surface Analysis Continued  
  Spatial Modeling with Raster Data Cont. Exercise 6: Modeling and 3D
9-11 Integrated Analysis: Raster and Vector  
   Extraction and Overlay in Raster Layers Exercise 5: Image Extraction
  Working Between Raster & Vector Exercise 6: Raster vs. Vector
12-14 Advanced Topics  
  Geodatasase Design (Arc Catalogue) Project 3: 
  Building Spatial Models in Arc  
  Basic Spatial Statistics  
  Project Presentations  
   Exam 2 Wed May 7 8:30 am