Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Stephanie Stotts, Wesley College, Dover, DE
Background: Courses based on analyzing geoinformation, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), are an increasingly important component of education for many fields and career paths. Prior to the 2014-2015 academic year Wesley College offered two GIS courses, a lower level and an upper level version. However, these courses were consistently under enrolled with an average of 8 students representing 3 majors in the lower level course and an average of 7 students representing 1 major in the upper level course. The faculty felt that it was important to make these courses more accessible and appealing because course completion produces more employable graduates with better data consumption skills. Methods: With the help of funding from NSF EPSCoR, our faculty changed the 200 level GIS course to the 300 level, obtained course approval for level 3 of Wesley College’s core curriculum, and made the course a requirement for the college’s data information certificate. With these changes, the course content shifted from a procedural to an application focus. We also made the 400 level course a requirement for biological chemistry majors and incorporated student research and presentations into the grade. Results: After implementing course changes the enrolment in the 300 level GIS course increased by 113 percent, and the number of majors represented in the course tripled. In the 400 level course the number of students enrolled increased by 71 percent, and the number of majors represented also tripled. Additionally, one of the student projects from the 400 level course resulted in a publication. Conclusions: Wesley College was able to dramatically increase enrolment and the number of majors represented in GIS courses by altering one course level, getting a course approved for the core, using existing courses for a certificate, and requiring courses for majors.