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GIS Course Planning: A Comparison of Syllabi at US College and Universities

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Despite the enormous growth of college courses dealing with spatial information, curriculum planning involving geographic information science (GIS) courses and programs has received little attention within the GIS literature. As the number and variety of GIS courses expands, so too does the importance of both systematic and inclusive planning and campus‐wide coordination. In this article we explore course planning through an exploration of 312 GIS course syllabi used at US colleges and universities with the goal of characterizing the degree to which learning resources, student evaluation methods, and course topics have become standardized across institution types, academic levels, and disciplines. Our findings reveal a consensus in the use of GIS software across courses but no similar agreement in the use of textbooks. Hands‐on activities were used as evaluation methods in nearly every course in the sample regardless of institution type or academic level. However, quizzes, tests and final exams were used more often in community colleges while papers and projects were used more frequently in four‐year and comprehensive research universities. The frequency of topic categories listed on syllabi was relatively consistent across institutions, academic levels and disciplines with a few topics such as vector analytic operations, data models, and data creation/acquisition/editing included on more than 50% of syllabi.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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