Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Experiential learning is a trend in liberal arts colleges. Students are increasingly asked to learn by tackling problems beyond the classroom, often in the context of the local community. This can mean knowing how to apply technology and quantitative data to analyze and understand a problem, and GIS is a powerful tool for place- and data-based analysis. In concert with the chairs of the Political Science and Sociology departments, the GIS librarian at Trinity University developed a plan for teaching GIS in a semester-long flagship course on election statistics and redistricting in Bexar county. Course design provided users with early success in using GIS applications and geospatial data. Emphasis was placed on learning the conceptual aspects of investigating data, from issues such as data integrity and geodatabase design to application of the scientific method in such a context. Giving students experience to take into real-world situations is the ultimate goal.