Course Title: Intro to GIS                                 Course Number/Room: Geol 465 Room SC3211

Instructor:    Jim Durbin                                    Meets:   MW 11-12:50 PM;

Office:          Science Center Room 2218          Phone:     (812) 465-1208 (office)

E-mail:                              Office Hrs: MW 2-3 pm; TR 9-10 am; 3-4 pm, or by appointment

Textbooks: Mastering ArcGIS, by Maribeth Price, McGraw Hill Publisher, ISBN 978-0-07-352284-5

Course Objectives:  The primary goal of the course is to learn what a GIS is, how it works, and gain experience using GIS software to solve a variety of problems. 

Structure of the Course: The course consists of a few basic lectures where concepts are presented. Most of the time we will be using the software in the lab to learn how you can access and manipulate files and then use those skills to complete an exercise. The final exam is a project that will force you to demonstrate that you know how to manipulate and utilize the software in such a way that would be useful to future employers and or academic research projects.

Exams and Lab assignments: Participants in the class will be evaluated on 2 exams (a midterm and a final exam) and a number of lab exercises.  Exams are curved based on the highest score in the class, up to a maximum of 10%.  That person's score becomes 100% and the rest of the class is adjusted up by the same amount.

Labs, that comprise ~ 1/3 of the total points for the term, will consist of exercises designed to teach you the basics of GIS software and the thinking required to insure that the results of the software output are accurate and appropriate.

Point breakdown: I evaluate on a strictly adhered to scale (listed below).  All decimal points are rounded up to the next whole number regardless of the decimal (E.G., 76.00001 would be rounded up to 77). There are plenty of opportunities to acquire enough points over the semester to get a decent grade if you do the work.  Late assignments will be penalized 20% of the value per day it is late.  Assignments are due at the start of the period unless otherwise instructed.  You should keep track of what your grade is (points you have acquired thus far divided by the total number of points possible) and adjust your studying habits, class attendance, note-taking skills, and exam performance so that you can achieve a grade more in tune with the amount of effort you spend on the class.

Exams are curved up to 10% of the total points.  The curve is based on the high score being set at 100% with all other exams adjusted accordingly.  Grades are based on the points accumulated over term.


Hardware and Software needed to complete exercises are available in this room (SC3211). Files needed to complete the exercises are available from me, or from a wide range of online sources, which I will provide to you.


     Point Breakdown (table 1)  




Exam 1






Final Exam






Grading Scale (table 2)





















Policy:  Under no circumstances are you allowed to use the notebook computers off campus.  Under no circumstances are you allowed to install software of ANY KIND without asking me first.  Each student will be assigned a specific notebook and should software appear on the machine, you will be docked 1 letter grade.  Do not show up late to class.  However, I would prefer you to come in a little late than to not show up at all.  Try not to make a lot of noise when coming in late, and do not to make a habit of being late to class.

I do not mind students eating or drinking in the classroom, provided the University doesn’t mind and you don’t make noises when unwrapping food items or finishing your drink.  DO NOT eat or drink while working on the computers.  I realize that the course takes place during the lunch hour, but spilling food on the machines is a VERY BAD THING!  If you know ahead of time that there you will not be in class, you must see me in advance to make arrangements as to when you will make up the material.  If for any reason you miss an exam, you must see me to see if you will be allowed to make it up.  On exam days, anyone coming into the classroom more than 15 minutes late will be allowed to start the exam at that time, but will not be given extra time to complete the exam.  Make up exams are at my discretion.

I have scheduled office hours during the week, and I am available for meetings to discuss lab assignments or other matters by appointment.

I reserve the right to alter the syllabus should the need arise.  I will notify the class of any changes.