Computer Science/Geography 59
Geographic Information and Global Positioning Systems

Instructor: Jeff Tolhurst, Ph.D.
Office: Sugar Pine 119 and Fir 6
Office Hours:
Phone: (209) 588-5235 office (+ msg); (209) 588-5104 (fax)

Course Credit: 1 semester hours
Prerequisites: None
Day and Time: Friday and Saturday 8 am - 5 pm
Room: Fir 1
Text Materials:
1. Trimble GPS Tutorial
GIS Commons: An Introductory Textbook on Geographic Information Systems by Michael Schmandt


Class Notes and Activities Page

GPS Links

I. Course Description:

Introduction to basic GIS and GPS concepts and applications in the field of natural resources, earth sciences, and environmental systems.  Students will learn to use Global Positioning System hand-held units, base stations, and rover units, combined with Geographic Information System software to collect field data and produce maps for spatial analysis and decision-making purposes.  The first 6 weeks will be spent learning ArcView software; the second six weeks will be spent learning to use Ashtech and Garmin GPS units; and the last 6 weeks will be spent learning to design and carry out a research project merging GPS and GIS technologies. 

II.  Course Objectives: 

Upon completion of this course each student should be able to: 

1.  Perform position-averaging with hand-held GPS units.
2.  Set up and use a GPS unit for field data collection and mapping purposes.
3.  Plan a simple field data collection program.
4.  Create shapefiles with DNR GPS and import GPS and GIS data into ArcView.
5.  Select, edit, and clean up spatial data in ArcView.
6.  Display spatial and non-spatial data; manipulate themes and tables; build queries; classify data for modified display.
7.  Demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively in small groups by working collaboratively with peers on several group projects.
8.  Use a GPS unit to navigate to a geocache on campus.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course you will be able to collect, compile, organize, transform, and analyze geospatial and attribute data.

By the end of the course you will have worked cooperatively with a small group of peers to collect GPS data and print a GIS map.

By the end of the course you will learn to summarize scientific concepts using a scientific/technical writing style.

Course Content:

The course consists of 1 day of GPS focused instruction, followed by 1 day of GIS focused instruction. By the end of the course you will be able to collect field data with a GPS unit, download the data into a GIS, then edit and clean up the data for accuracy, and finally print a GIS map. 

IV. Representative Text(s): 

           1. Trimble GPS Tutorial
GIS Commons: An Introductory Textbook on Geographic Information Systems by Michael Schmandt

V.  Basic Method(s) of Instruction: 

            1.  Lecture, field, and computer time will be intermixed as needed.  Basic fundamentals of GPS and GIS will be covered by lecture, demonstrations, and tutorials/exercises. 

            2.  Students will learn to use GPS equipment in the field by collecting data on campus. 

            3.  Student projects will be highly directed at first, then evolve into autonomous ventures by the end of the course. 

VI. Method(s) of Evaluation: 

1. There will be in-class work collected - summaries of what you learned during the lecture and activities. Lecture and lab material will also be covered on the two quizzes (1 on GPS, 1 on GIS). You will also turn in a final map of the GPS data collected on campus.

2. Grades:

In Class Assignments 10%
GPS Quiz 30%
GIS Quiz 30%
Project 30%

3. Lab exercises and in class work is essential to your success and is your individual responsibility to complete in a timely fashion. I expect you to ask for assistance when needed.

Note: A grading curve will not be used to determine grades. Grades will be determined as follows:

A 90-100%
B 80-90%
C 70-80%
D 60-70%
F < 60%


“For students with disabilities, (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, financial, etc., in nature), who believe that they may need special accommodations in this class, I encourage you to discuss options with me within the first 10 days of instruction.”