GEOG 586
Geographic Information Analysis

Geographic Information Analysis


Choosing and applying analytical methods for geospatial data, including point pattern analysis, interpolation, surface analysis, overlay analysis, and spatial autocorrelation. Prerequisite: GEOG 485 or GEOG 486 or GEOG 487


Geography 586 is a required course for Penn State's Online Master of GIS. This section is being offered to students around the globe through Penn State's World Campus. It is a "paced" course, which means that there is an established start and end date and that you will interact with other students throughout the course. The course is 10 weeks in length at a rate of 1 lesson per week. The course is organized around eight short weekly projects and a more substantial project pursued through all ten weeks of the course, with milestones through the term. Weekly projects include associated readings, quizzes, and discussions about the analysis of spatial data.

This is a course in analytical methods for handling specifically spatial data, that is, data where the arrangement of observations in space is thought to be of significance. The techniques introduced are often mathematically complex, but while these aspects are covered in the course, the emphasis is on the choice and application of appropriate methods for the analysis of the spatial data often encountered in applied geography. Weekly projects are hands-on, using geographic information systems or other appropriate computational tools, so that students appreciate the practical complexities involved, and the relative limitations of these methods in contemporary desktop GIS.

Through the weekly projects, students acquire familiarity with use of a single method or family of methods in standard desktop tools, so that they can focus on aspects of that method and develop a thorough understanding of its potential and of its limitations. Problem scenarios range across demographic, planning, crime analysis, landscape analysis, and other application areas. The term-long project is intended to allow students to formulate a research problem in a topic area of their own choosing, to gather and organize appropriate available datasets, and to understand how a variety of methods among those covered in the course can be applied in combination to thoroughly explore real questions. Students will be asked to engage with their peers' work during the project planning stage. They will also be encouraged to consider developing customized tools to automate repetitive analysis tasks, if they have previous programming experience.


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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.