State University of New York at Morrisville

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

Course Outline for NATR 216



Spring 2017

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


Dr. Walid H. Shayya

Instructor's Contact Information


NATR 216 involves a basic introduction to geospatial analysis with emphasis on the practical applications of geographic information and global positioning systems.  The basic principles of geospatial analysis and remote sensing are discussed with focus on some general applications that pertain to natural and/or renewable resource system(s).  Evaluations of various situations are accomplished through a number of general class projects and one final case study project to be assigned by the instructor based on each student's area of interest.  Emphasis will be on running ArcGIS, a commercial GIS software, and its application to the assigned class projects.  Students are also expected to understand how to navigate using both standard and real-time differential GPS.  GPS measurements and digital orthoimages are especially useful in creating geographically-referenced, spatial data which are required for performing geospatial analysis.  A student must have successfully completed NATR 213 before being allowed to take NATR 216.

Co-requisite: NATR 213
1 credit (1 lecture hours, 2 laboratory hours), spring semester, last eight weeks


Upon the successful completion of NATR 216, the student is expected to have:

  1. Utilized the global positioning system (GPS) technology to navigate to predefined feature locations.

  2. Utilized ArcGIS for Desktop software to create, evaluate, and analyze geograhically-referenced, spatial data.

  3. Utilized remotely-sensed, digital orthophotographs and rectified geospatial images to locate features and create their representations in a geospatial database.

  4. Evaluated how the software and hardware tools covered in the class could work together to analyze real-life situations, including those that involve natural and renewable resources.

  5. Understood the basic principles of geospatial analysis using GIS with data obtained from different sources including GPS and remote sensing.


The instructor has the following designated office hours per week:

  • Mondays: 1:00 to 1:50 p.m.

  • Tuesdays: 11:00 to 11:50 a.m.

  • Wednesdays: 1:00 to 1:50 p.m.

  • Thursdays: 11:00 to 11:50 a.m.

  • Fridays: 8:00 to 8:50 a.m.

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 second half of the spring semester (last eight weeks).  It includes three contact hours per week of lecture and laboratory (one section of the lecture and one section of the laboratory are offered during the 2017 Spring semester).  The lecture meets from 8:00 to 8:50 a.m. on Tuesday in Room 101, Marshall Hall. The one section of the laboratory meets in 208 Bicknell Hall on Fridays from 9:00 to 10:50 a.m.  The course runs from Tuesday - 14 March 2017 (the 8th week of the spring semester) to Friday - 28 April 2017 (the 14th week of the spring semester).  A one-hour comprehensive final examination will be scheduled during the finals week.


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.  2013. GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook 2 (6th Edition for 10.3.x). 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. 


  • Attendance: First and foremost, students must always plan to be in class on time.  Given the nature of the course, all students are urged to attend all classes. Attendance will be taken during each class session and appropriate actions will be taken when students have more than one unexcused absences during the semester. A student with a few or no class absences during the semester will receive favorable considerations during the grading process if s/he is close to receiving the next higher letter grade.   

  • Student Behavior: As students in a technical program are preparing for a professional career, all students are expected to conduct themselves as professionals (in both manner and dress). 

    • Eating, drinking, or the consumption of any tobacco products is prohibited in the classroom situation (lecture hall, classroom, laboratory, or field). Doing so may result in the student's dismissal from that class period and will count as an unexcused absence.

    • Cell phones and pagers must be turned off during instruction time. Use during or disruption of class by these devices will result in the student's dismissal from that class period and an unexcused absence.

  • Assignments: This course will include several laboratory assignments and five class projects involving the use of ArcGIS.  Class assignments and projects will account for 55% of the final grade.  Therefore, it is important that students complete their assignments accurately, neatly, and on time.  Assignments received past the due date will be devalued 5% for each day that the item is late.  No class assignment of any student will be graded (for credit) once the same assignment has been corrected and returned to the class. 

  • Examinations: The class includes one comprehensive final examination to be scheduled during the finals week. The final examination will cover class material, laboratory assignments, class projects, and assigned readings.

  • Honesty Policy and Discipline (Due Process): Honesty and integrity are major elements in professional behavior and are expected of each student. Any assignment (including those in electronic media) submitted by a student must be of the student's original authorship. Representation of another's work as the student’s own shall constitute plagiarism. Cheating, in any form, is an unacceptable behavior within all college courses. Students having academic problems should consult their academic advisor or a college counselor. Instances of cheating will be dealt with in accordance to Morrisville State College policy. Standards of academic honesty and due process procedures for Morrisville State College are located in the Rules, Regulations, and Expectations section of the Student Handbook.  

  • Safety Guidelines: Certain class assignments may require the student to be absent from the professor's immediate supervision. Whether the student is under immediate supervision or not, safe conduct and safe use of equipment shall be the ultimate rule. Failure to comply with prudent safety practice and/or willful disregard for class participants and/or equipment may be cause for immediate dismissal from that particular class session by the professor. Subsequent unacceptable activity may be cause for dismissal from the course by the Dean.


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:

  • Class Work Ethic and Participation ==> 5% of the final grade
  • Quizzes ==> 10% of final grade
  • Laboratory Assignments ==> 10% of final grade
  • Class Projects ==> 45% of final grade
  • Final Exam ==> 30% of final grade

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%).



Lecture Topic*

9: 14 March - Introduction to NATR 216
10: 21 March - Geospatial Data, Georeferencing, and Map Projections
11: 28 March - Spatial Analysis
12: 4 April - Introduction to Topographic Maps
13: 11 April - Remote Sensing
14: 18 April - Digital Orthoimagery
Case Study Project Assignment
15: 25 April - Case Study Discussion
- Case Study Questions and Answers
- Final Exam Study Guide
16: ? May - Final Examination (Comprehensive) - To Be Scheduled During the Finals Week


Laboratory Topic*

9: 17 March Navigation Using a Handheld GPS Unit (Exercise)
10: 24 March Spatial Data (Chapter 5 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Examining metadata
  - Working with world map projections
  - Working with US map projections
  - Working with rectangular coordinate systems
  - Learning about vector data formats
  - Downloading US Census Bureau boundary maps
  - Downloading and processing Census SF 1 data tables
  - Downloading and processing American Community Survey (ACS) Census data
  - Exploring raster basemaps from Esri web services
  - Downloading raster maps from the USGS
  - Exploring sources of GIS data from government websites
11: 31 March Geoprocessing (Chapter 6 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Extracting features for a study area
  - Clipping features
  - Dissolving features
  - Merging features
  - Interseting layers
  - Unioning layers
  - Automating geoprocessing with ModelBuilder
12: 7 April Geocoding (Chapter 8 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Geocoding data by ZIP Code
  - Geocoding data by street address
  - Correcting source addresses using interactive rematch
  - Correcting street reference layer addresses
  - Using an alias table
13: 14 April Spatial Analysis (Chapter 9 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Buffering points for proximity analysis
  - Conducting a site suitability analysis
  - Using multiple ring buffers for calibrating a gravity model
  - Using adta miniming with cluster analysis
14: 21 April ArcGIS 3D Analyst for Desktop (Chapter 10 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Creating a 3D scene
  - Creating a TIN (triangular irregular network) from contours
  - Draping features onto a TIN
  - Navigating scenes
  - Creating an animation
  - Using 3D effects
  - Using 3D symbols
  - Editing 3D objects
  - Using ArcGIS 3D Analyst for landform analysis
  - Exploring ArcGlobe
15: 28 April ArcGIS Spatial Analyst for Desktop (Chapter 11 - GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook)
  - Processing raster map layers
  - Creating a hillshade raster layer
  - Making a kernel density map
  - Extracting raster value points
  - Conducting a raster-based site suitability study
  - Using ModelBuilder for a risk index

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