Integrating GIS Research into the Geospatial Undergraduate Student Experience

Authors: Susan Kamei*, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Yao-Yi Chiang, USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Beau MacDonald, USC Spatial Sciences Institute
Topics: Geography Education, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: GIS, education, student research, undergraduate, geospatial data
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The benefits of involving undergraduates in faculty research using GIScience and technologies with geospatial data are manifold for professors, students, and academic programs alike. For faculty, the one-on-one and small-group settings offer opportunities to reinforce foundational concepts introduced in an undergraduate geography-based curriculum, such as concepts of spatial thinking, spatial analysis, approaches utilizing geospatial data, and visualization methods, while encouraging motivated students to think of themselves as front-line scholars and elevate their skills beyond those required in their coursework. For students, the opportunities to learn research methodologies, cultivate presentation and other professional “soft skills,” and contribute to real-world innovations put them on trajectories for graduate school and job placement. The Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California has created a model for conducting faculty-student GIS research which capitalizes on the value of student experiential learning and supports faculty in maximizing their research funding and building their promotion dossiers. This model incorporates protocols to maximize student participation and engagement, especially among freshmen and first-generation students, faculty effort in producing publications and indicia of effective teaching, and impact for communications and fundraising purposes. The tangible research results as evidenced by conference presentations, awards, scholarships, publications, and placement in internships, post-baccalaureate jobs, and graduate programs redound not only to the benefit of students and faculty, but to their academic programs, as well.

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