State University of New York at Morrisville

Dr. Walid H. Shayya
School of Agriculture and Natural Resouces

Course Outline for NATR 213



Spring 2019

Blackboard Access of Course Material On-line (for students enrolled in the course)


Dr. Walid H. Shayya

Instructor's Contact Information


NATR 213 involves a basic introduction to geospatial technology with focus on the practical applications of geographic information and global positioning systems in mapping natural and renewable resources.  The basic principles of geographic information systems (GIS) and the global positioning system (GPS) are discussed with emphasis on computer-assisted mapping.  Focus will be on running ArcGIS, a commercial GIS software, and its application in a number of assigned class projects.  Students are also expected to understand how to conduct surveys using both standard and real-time differential GPS as well as generate thematic maps.  GPS measurements and digital orthoimages are also utilized in creating geographically-referenced, spatial data which forms the basis for geospatial analysis, a topic that is covered in NATR 216.   

Prerequisite: NATR 142, AGEN 151, or permission of instructor
1 credit (1 lecture hour, 2 laboratory hours), spring semester, first eight weeks


Upon the successful completion of NATR 213, the student is expected to have:

  1. Developed the skill for utilizing the ArcGIS for Desktop software to create, maintain, and utilize geospatial data.

  2. Applied the global positioning system to the collection of data on natural and man-made geographically referenced features.

  3. Utilized digital orthoimagery to construct features within the framework of geospatial databases.

  4. Understood how various geospatial technology tools are utilized in a variety of contexts including generating a variety of thematic maps.

  5. Understood the basic principles of geographic information systems (GIS) and the global positioning system (GPS).  


The instructor has the following designated office hours per week:

If necessary, students are also encouraged to make appointments to see the instructor at other times.


This is a one-credit hour course that runs during the first half of the spring semester (first seven weeks).  It includes three contact hours per week of lecture and laboratory (one section of the lecture and two sections of the laboratory are offered during the 2019 Spring semester).  The lecture meets from 8:00 to 8:50 a.m. on Tuesdays in Room 101, Marshall Hall. The two sections of the laboratory meet in 208 Bicknell Hall on Fridays (section 01L meets from 9:00 to 10:50 a.m. while section 02L meets from 11:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m).  The course runs from Tuesday - 22 January 2019 (the 1st week of the spring semester) to Friday - 8 March 2019 (the 7th week of the spring semester).  A one-hour comprehensive final examination is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday - March 19, 2019.


A GIS tutorial workbook and a course manual are available from the campus bookstore (the GIS tutorial workbook may also be purchased from other textbook vendors or online).  The specifics of the workbook are as follows:

Gorr, W.L. and K.S. Kurland.  2016. GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook (6th Edition, for 10.3.x Edition).  ESRI Press, California (ISBN: 978-1589484566).

The course manual includes the instructor's PowerPoint presentations (printed in handout format) and pertinent reading material.  Other materials are available on-line and may be accessible either through the course's material under Blackboard or using the listed URLs in the course manual.  Numerous resources are available online on geographic information systems (GIS.COM, USGS) and the global positioning systems (Trimble).  Students are encouraged to be actively involved in acquiring some pertinent knowledge from these sources.


Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Disability Services (DS) office immediately to register for services and receive a Notification of Disabilities form. Once you have this form, we will meet privately, to discuss your specific needs.   Although you may register for services at any time, please attempt to make arrangements within the first two weeks of the semester so all appropriate academic accommodations can be set. 



Evaluation is a shared responsibility between the teacher and the student. The purpose of the evaluation is to demonstrate how well the professor has taught and the student has learned specific course materials, the principles, concepts, and terms relevant to the covered topics.  Evaluation is also intended to assess the student's ability to utlize the acquired knowledge in problem-solving.

The breakdown of grading in this course will be as follows:

The distribution of grades in this course will be based on the A-F College grading scheme. The letter grades correspond to the following percentage scale: A (90-100%), A- (87-89.9%), B+ (83-86.9%), B (80-82.9%), B- (77-79.9%), C+ (73-76.9%), C (70-72.9%), C- (67-69.9%), D+ (63-66.9%), D (60-62.9%), and F (<60%).


Week: Date

Lecture Topic*

1: 22 Jan. - Introduction to NATR 213
2: 29 Jan. - Introduction to ArcGIS for Desktop
- Introduction to GIS Tutorial 1 Workbook
3: 5 Feb. - Graphic Design Principles, GIS Queries, and Maps
4: 12 Feb. - Introduction to the Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Differential GPS (handout)
5: 19 Feb. - Creating and Maintaining GIS Data
6: 26 Feb. - Raster Data and Digital Orthoimagery Available through ArcGIS and from the NYS GIS Clearinghouse
7: 5 March - Wrap-up Lecture
- Final Exam Study Guide
8: 19 March - Final Examination (Comprehensive)

Week: Date

Laboratory Topic*

1: 25 Jan. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Working with Scale

Installation of Exercise Data (DVD Purchased with Text)
2: 1 Feb. Introduction (Chapter 1 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Opening and saving a map document
  - Working with map layers
  - Navigating in a map document
  - Measuring distances
  - Working with feature attributes
  - Selecting features
  - Changing selection options
  - Working with attribute tables
  - Labeling features
3: 8 Feb. Map Design (Chapter 2 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Creating point and polygon maps using qualitative attributes
  - Creating point and polygon maps using quantitative attributes
  - Creating custom classes for a map
  - Creating custom colors for a map
  - Creating normalized and density maps
  - Creating dot density maps
  - Creating fishnet maps
  - Creating group layers and layer packages
4: 15 Feb. GIS Outputs (Chapter 3 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Building an interactive GIS
  - Creating map layouts
  - Reusing a custom map layout
  - Creating a custom map template with two maps
  - Adding a report to a layout
  - Adding a graph to a layout
  - Building a map animation
5: 22 Feb. File Geodatabases (Chapter 4 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Building a file geodatabase
  - Using ArcCatalog utilities
  - Modifying an attribute table
  - Joining tables
  - Creating centroid coordinates in a table
  - Aggregating data
6: 1 March Digitizing (Chapter 7 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Digitizing polygon features
  - Digitizing line features
  - Digitizing point features
  - Using advanced editing tools
  - Spatially adjusting features
7: 8 March - Mapping Using a Handheld GPS Unit (Exercise)
- Final Exam Study Guide

*The topics and corresponding dates listed in the table above are tentative and may be subject to change during the semester.