GY456-456G Spatial Data Layout and Display

23184 001 (undergraduate) and 23187 002 (graduate) WWW Spring 2017 three semester hours (lecture and laboratory combination)

Instructor: Dr. Miriam Helen Hill
Office: 205 Martin Hall
Office Hours: Wednesday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Or by appointment, or by Blackboard Virtual Office Hours upon request, or by AOL IM, or by Blackboard IM
E-mail addresses: and
Telephone: (256) 782-8063, Please e-mail

PREREQUISITE: GY 307 OR GIS (SAM) 510 or experience with ArcGIS 10.x. This course requires prior use of the software having a focus on map design and skill building.

Course Description: GY 456 or GY 456G Spatial Data Layout and Display (3). Fundamentals of map composition and layout, chart creation, data classification and map design to produce meaningful maps and chart of the results of spatial analysis.

Course Rationale: This course is a required course for the Geographic Information Science graduate certificate or MPA concentration. It may, also, be taken by undergraduate majors interested in expanding their experience with geographic techniques.

Course Objective: To provide instruction and lab experience about thematic maps and the use of geographic information systems at the graduate and undergraduate level, particularly for those students pursuing a graduate certificate in GIS or a masters degree in Public Administration or Liberal Studies.

Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss and apply professional construction considerations for thematic maps, including choropleth, dot density, proportional symbol, isoline, cartogram, and flow maps, and for graphs
  2. Discuss and apply professional principles of datums, coordinate systems, projections, scale, symbology, generalization, classification, map composition, type, color, printing, and web mapping
  3. Produce thematic maps using ArcGIS 10.x and graphs using MS Office suitable for publication for diverse audiences and media
Course Requirements: Each student is expected to:
Course Software: ArcGIS 10.x from ESRI (student license is available from the professor)

Other resources and prerequisites: Access to computers capable of running the this software package, high speed Internet access to the World Wide Web, MS Office 2007 OR 2010 or newer, headset, and a web cam.

System Requirements: For full details see CPU speed 2.2 GHz dual core or higher, 2 GB RAM or higher, 2.4 GB disk space, 24 bit capable graphics accelerator, and an OpenGL 2.0 or higher compliant video card is required is required.

Note: All materials presented in this class are done so with educational goals in mind and are not intended to cause distress of any nature. Please be aware that controversial materials, theories, exhibits, etc. will be presented in this class. If you are unwilling or unable to view these presentations in the educational light in which they are presented, then you need to reconsider your enrollment in this class.

Class homepage: The class homepage will be at and linked to Dr. Hill's homepage at This syllabus will also be linked to the class homepage. The course is found on the JSU Blackboard website at

Mandatory Assignments: Completion of the post-tests is, also, required. These will be limited to one attempt. Failure to complete these will reduce the final exam grade.

Grading: Five map activities will count 10% each. Three exams will be given. Exam one will count 20%, and the second and third exams will count 15% each. Graduate students must successfully complete the designated Virtual Campus course. Guaranteed percentage grades will be: above 90% A; 80-90% B; 70-80% C; below 70% F. Late submissions will be receive point penalties. Tests and assignments may contain additional bonus points, and others may be awarded for exceptional work.

Reading Assignments: Read the textbook and work through the Blackboard materials. A tentative schedule is provided; however, working ahead of this schedule is highly recommended.

Map activities: Five map activities using ArcGIS 10 and MS Office are assigned. These concern projections, choropleth maps, proportional symbol maps, dot density maps, and graphing. Deadlines for this work are indicated in the tentative schedule; however, work should be submitted early.

Exams: Three exams will cover the course content. Questions will include a variety of question types including multiple choice, short answer, computation, essay, and mapping. Exams will have several parts. Some parts will be timed, and time overruns will be penalized. The multiple choice part of the exams will not be comprehensive; however, individual questions may be. Information content builds through the course, for example, unit one covers fundamentals of map design and these principles apply to all work. All use of relies on cumulative knowledge.

Be sure to check Tools/My Grade to make sure that scores are officially recorded. Blackboard reports all time overruns and crashes as either ! or icons. These scores may remain visible in the student's gradebook even after more work has been successfully completed when multiple attempts are allowed. To view subsequent scores, click on the icon. The professor's gradebook shows the highest score achieved even though the student must look further into the grading system to see the record. This is the way Blackboard functions and is not an issue about the system. After submitting work, check for the successful entry into your gradebook hierarchy through Tools. When submitting work, allow for transmission time!

Virtual Campus: Graduate students will complete the Cartographic Design Using ArcGIS 9 Virtual Campus course available from ESRI. Course access codes will be provided, although the first module may be completed for free.

Portfolio: You are encouraged to maintain a portfolio of your work from this course. It will not, however, be submitted for evaluation as such.

E-mail contact: All e-mail contacts will be through the JSU GEM address. If this is not your preferred address, be sure to place a FORWARD on this GEM account by logging in to your GEM address and completing the forward option. Send yourself a test e-mail at your GEM address to be certain that your forward is functional.

Class Membership: You are a member of a class, and Blackboard provides facilities through which to interact. Class members are expected to ask and answer questions, be involved in activities, and to facilitate an educational academic atmosphere. Proper attitude and behavior are expected. At all times your interactions should facilitate a smooth flow of intellectual ideas, knowledge, and intelligent discussion. Failure to contribute or promote this important goal will risk grade penalties.

Academic Dishonesty: Academic dishonesty is defined to include any form of cheating or plagiarism. A discussion of the topic is set forth in the student handbook. Working and studying with classmates are beneficial and to be encouraged. Copying work is not to be confused with comparing work and discussing similarities and differences. Sample answers are just that, samples, and may pertain to other data sets. Sample answers are not to be copied. Do your own work! You are responsible for both understanding answers submitted and the completion of the assignments. Designing your own maps involves building skills and developing your own style within the limits of professional standards. These skills cannot be honed by duplicating the work of others. The material in this course is important not just for your grade but, also, for your future profession. All of the work is open book.

Notice: This syllabus is in no way binding. All information is subject to change. Any changes made by the instructor will be announced to the class through emails or posting to the Announcements area.

Disabilities: According to Public Law 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Jacksonville State University will provide reasonable access and appropriate accommodations for otherwise qualified disabled students. If you need such access or accommodations, please consult with Disability Support Services and your professor immediately. Where extended testing sessions are allocated, Blackboard continues to function after the original time settings are reached, and the scores and actual times used are reported. By clicking on the ! or grade, both student and faculty can view these reports and verify completion within the appropriate time limits.

Questions or problems: Please contact the professor. Asking questions is an extremely important part of the learning process. Give sufficient detail for a return reply. Include who you are, identify the course, and designate the specific assignment. Incomplete information and vague questions only expand the time it will take for you to get an adequate response. Expect that I will ask you questions to ascertain what you understand so I can begin the answer from that point. Answers and grading will usually be succinct and to the point. No value judgment of you, your personality, or your intelligence is intended. Comments will be provided to help you to improve your work and your style. The focus will center on what you can improve, and it is up to you not to lose sight of the accomplishments and progress that you are making. Do not get discouraged, but you must work continually to improve your work. Maps are complex and multifaceted, and they will contain far more things done correctly than the few things highlighted for improvement.

Class Schedule: Use the outline provided to complete the assigned reading BEFORE the designated dates. Assignment details and support materials are provided in Blackboard. By all means work ahead! The deadlines for submissions are shown. Point penalties will be incurred for late work.


January 5-1111 and 12 
January 12-1822 and 3 
January 19-25313 
January 26-February 144 and 14Map A
February 1-85Exam 1 
February 9-1565 and 6 
February 16-22715 and 16Map B
February 23-March 188 and 11 
March 2-89Exam 2Map C
March 9-15107 
March 16-29119 and 10Map D
March 30-April 51217 
April 6-1813Exam 3Map E and post test
*Any major changes to this schedule will be announced by e-mail or the announcements option in Blackboard. Grades will be posted in Blackboard. Be sure to check your grade postings there for official grade records. All grades are final at 11:55 p.m. CST on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.