Identifying the skills and support students and teaching assistants need to succeed in GIS courses

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Shivanand Balram, Department of Geography

Project team: Suzana Dragicevic, Department of Geography, and Sreelalitha Sarojni, research assistant

Timeframe: April 2018 to January 2019

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • GEOG 255 – Geographic Information System (GIS) I (intersession)
  • GEOG 251 – Quantitative Geography
  • GEOG 352 – Spatial Analysis

Description: This project will identify what specific support Geographic Information System (GIS) undergraduate students and graduate teaching assistants need to succeed.

Questions addressed:

  • What challenges do students face when taking GIS courses?
  • What supports do students currently use to meet these challenges?
  • When and for what do students refer to their teaching assistant for support?
    What course challenges do students feel are not being met with the supports available to them?
  • What other supports would students like to see put in place?
  • Do students feel that teaching assistant support is important for their academic success?
  • Are there particular student profiles related to challenges cited, supports needed and teaching assistant use?
  • What specific knowledge, skills and support do teaching assistants need to function effectively in GIS courses?

Knowledge sharing: The project’s findings will be disseminated locally on the ISTLD site. Presentation of results at a departmental seminar and/or other Teaching and Learning events will be pursued.

It is possible that other units or departments would be interested in finding out about the types of support their undergraduate students need, and so this project can serve as a template for those interested.

The strategic plan of our department (Geography) has always been to improve the student learning experience and as such this project directly contributes to that vision.