Goals, objectives, and outcomes

Paul F. Anderson


Teaching goal and objectives

My goal in teaching is to help students develop problem-solving skills in landscape planning and apply concepts of environmental determinism.

Landscape planning is an integrative discipline that incorporates land use planning, resource management, and ecological principles of sustainability in studies of predominantly rural regions. To help students develop integrative problem-solving skills useful in landscape planning, I emphasize a rational decision-making process. In each course, I provide examples, case studies, tools, exercises, and projects that challenge students to first consider diverse client and societal needs, then develop strategies to successfully address those needs. Often, my objective is to teach students how to learn; that is, help them internalize a design process or planning process that they can apply in a variety of professional projects. For example, in Landscape Inventory and Analysis (LA 361), students learn more than simply which GIS data sources are commonly used in resource planning and management projects. In addition, they learn how to search for data sources that they may not know about and, more importantly, how to evaluate the potential usefulness of newly-discovered data sources.

Learning outcomes: Students are able to clearly define a landscape planning problem, select and acquire relevant GIS data, analyze data in appropriate ways, and develop rational solutions and recommendations which address the problem they define. To help students succeed, my current teaching objectives include the following:

Objective: Provide students with project experiences using vector GIS analysis tools, such as ArcView and Arc/Info. Though I have used computer-assisted techniques in classes since 1977, I have used vector GIS tools (now an industry standard) on a regular basis in class for only three years. Past class exercises include vector-based suitability modeling and impact modeling. I am currently adding class exercises in data digitizing and cell-based modeling.  Also, our advanced GIS modeling class has been designated a Beta testing site for ESRI’s new ModelBuilder extension to ArcView.

Objective: Develop and teach a new course in advanced GIS landscape modeling. Full integration of computer applications throughout the undergraduate LA curriculum makes my course in Computer Graphics for Landscape Architecture (LA 411/511) unnecessary, giving me time to develop and teach the new course. This course is being team taught with Kevin Kane, manager of the ISU GIS Research and Support Facility and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture. I am developing another version of this course to be taught at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in July 2000 in conjunction with Julia Badenhope’s course (Landscape Architecture) on environmental planning and Lee Burris’ course (Agronomy) on soil genesis and classification.

Concepts of environmental determinism are well described in Design With Nature, Ian McHarg’s seminal 1969 treatise on the wisdom of determining land use by studying local ecological processes. The foundation of the concept involves land stewardship, as described by Iowa native Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac (1949). In more recent terms, the concept involves principles of environmental impact assessment, ecological integrity, and landscape ecology. In each course I teach, students read relevant literature, study positive and negative examples, and practice making land use and management decisions. In some courses, I lead students on field trips to experience first hand the effects of environmental determinism. Through these learning activities, students begin to understand how sustainable landscapes enhance environmental quality, both locally and globally.

Learning outcomes: Students are able to describe the basic concepts of environmental determinism, land stewardship, environmental impact assessment, ecological integrity, and landscape ecology. Students are able to apply these basic concepts to class projects and identify advantages in terms of landscape sustainability. To help students succeed, my current teaching objectives also include the following:

Objective: Develop distance learning materials using new communication technology. The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) and World Wide Web on the Internet provide additional tools for students to learn about sustainable landscapes and GIS. I am currently developing two learning units for the new Masters of Agriculture degree in the Department of Agronomy. This Web-based degree includes three soils courses. I was asked to develop learning materials for the third course (Agron 532, Soil Management) on soil management plans. Course material on planning issues and decision-making is complete. Course material on GIS applications to soil management planning is in progress.

Objective: Revise and publish the second edition of my textbook, Regional Landscape Analysis. During my faculty improvement leave in 1993, I revised the text and added new material. I began negotiations with several publishers, including Van Nostrand Reinhold and Oxford University Press. I am currently revising the illustrations and pursuing publication in the GIS series of Oxford University Press.

Objective: Develop additional learning opportunities for undergraduate students and graduate students. Undergraduate students enjoy challenges which expand their range of skills. In the landscape planning courses I teach, the emphasis should broaden their knowledge of landscape design and site planning. This requires additional learning opportunities involving regional resource issues, rural study areas, and environmental determinism. An example is the site selection study for a proposed Loess Hills National Park, completed last spring semester in Landscape Inventory and Analysis (LA 361). Graduate students enjoy challenges which deepen their knowledge of landscape planning and resource management. This requires additional learning opportunities involving resource sustainability issues and their impacts on environmental quality. An example is the thesis research of Jeff Logsdon, which provided the basis for the recently completed Iowa Wetland and Riparian Area Conservation Plan for the US EPA and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Research goal and objectives

My goal in research is developing appropriate GIS technology for integrating landscape planning and soil resource management.

Each research project, in whole or in part, involves a technology called Geographic Information Systems (GIS). My definition of GIS is "people, methods, data, and equipment used to acquire, store, analyze, and communicate spatial data." Though I teach mental, manual, and computer-assisted techniques to students, my research has involved computer technology almost exclusively. This is necessary to test the conditions and types of projects that are appropriate for computer-assisted techniques.

My role in supporting effective use of computer and communication technology by resource professionals requires several types of research. The purpose of a portion of my GIS research projects is to develop new databases, data analysis techniques, and landscape models. One example is my contributions to preparing a statewide GIS data layer of soil maps. Another example is the development of predictive modeling techniques using logit modeling, a form of multiple regression. The purpose of my other GIS research projects is to test applications of database and modeling techniques in state, national, and international projects. In all my research projects, the goal is to make connections between landscape planning and soil resource management. This process, as described by Ernest Boyer, can illuminate data and methods in revealing ways to promote the scholarship of integration.

Research outcomes: Through the development and use of GIS quantitative measures, research sponsors are able to understand and more effectively use GIS databases and models that integrate landscape planning and soil resource management. Through research integrating natural resource management and cultural resource management, results are useful to scientists and humanists. To help succeed, my current research objectives include the following:

Objective: Develop and incorporate quantitative techniques in GIS descriptive and predictive landscape models. In three research studies, I used Chi-square measures to provide a rational basis for selecting variables for predictive modeling. I also used logit modeling (a multiple regression technique) to measure the predictive power of the resultant models. In my recent study of archaeological site modeling for Camp Dodge, I used an environmental diversity index (a neighborhood analysis technique), but would like more experience in applying advanced modeling techniques. Planned research outcomes include (1) comparison of logit modeling with approaches involving fuzzy set theory, fuzzy logic, and neural net techniques and (2) application of these approaches to predictive modeling of resource suitability and site location.

Objective: Develop GIS descriptive models of historic General Land Office (GLO) soil classification. A research proposal that I prepared for the Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station is currently being reviewed by colleagues in Agronomy. This proposed research incorporates measures of uncertainty and variability to compare historic GLO soil classification with modern soil classification. Planned outcomes of the proposed research include (1) descriptive models of soil suitability for agriculture from 1846 to the present and (2) measures of variability in soil characteristics that affect suitability for agricultural use and applications of soils data in precision agricultural systems.

Objective: Develop and apply GIS descriptive modeling techniques to agricultural land preservation issues in Iowa. Initial research has been completed for the Iowa Legislative Commission on Urban Planning, Growth Management of Cities, and Protection of Farmland and its Subcommittee on Farmland Inventories and Farmland Preservation. Agricultural quality of soils was measured for land parcels that have been converted from agricultural use to non-agricultural use in seven Iowa counties. Digital soils data developed in prior research can be used to develop statistical summaries of Corn Suitability Rating, Land Capability Class, predicted yield, and USDA Prime Farmland classification. This is an example of integrating research and outreach that draws together landscape planning and soil resource management, synthesizing and bringing new insights into deliberations on public land use policies.

Outreach goal and objectives

My goal in outreach activities is transfer of appropriate GIS technology to resource professionals in public and private practice.

Identification of appropriate technology requires an understanding of local issues, financial and technical resources, and levels of training. I begin each outreach activity working with clients to assess issues, needs, data, and desired outcomes. Most inquiries come from resource professionals in public agencies who need assistance with GIS computer technology and databases. If the client’s needs can be met through existing programs, they are referred to other resource professionals in public agencies or private practice. If the client’s needs require new GIS technology or data, sponsored research is proposed. An example is the development of a GIS database and resource suitability models of the Raccoon River Greenbelt for the Dallas County Conservation Board.

If the client’s needs could be addressed through development of concepts and approaches by students who would also benefit, student outreach is proposed. In this case, undergraduate students can provide concepts and approaches if the client’s needs are fundamental. An example is the master plan concepts for Iowa Lakeside Laboratory developed by students in Comprehensive Landscape Planning (LA 463). Graduate students can provide concepts and approaches if the client’s needs require new knowledge. An example is Michael Miller’s thesis research on GIS descriptive modeling of GLO historic vegetation types for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Outreach opportunities that begin as studio projects or thesis research occasionally lead to sponsored research after initial investigation. An example is the development of a tourism database system for Welcome Centers operated by the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The converse is also true. Sponsored research occasionally creates outreach opportunities for students. An example is the Iowa Wetland and Riparian Area Conservation Plan for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the US Environmental Protection Agency. However, each opportunity involving students is carefully evaluated to make sure that students’ educational objectives are being met simultaneously with the client’s project objectives. Likewise, each outreach opportunity is screened to ensure that student involvement is appropriate and not competitive with existing programs or professional offices.

Outreach outcomes: The technical capacity of outreach clients is increased through the use of appropriate GIS technology, databases, and approaches. To help succeed, my current outreach objectives include the following:

Objective: Involve students in explorations of appropriate GIS concepts and technology that increase client knowledge of landscape planning issues. This objective has been met in each class I have taught. Each undergraduate studio has been successful in identifying for clients new ideas and opportunities for resource planning and management. An example is the wetlands suitability study for the Golden Hills RC&D completed by students in Landscape Inventory and Analysis (LA 361). Each graduate student thesis project has been successful in developing new knowledge or technology that addresses the needs of clients. An example is Shuangyan Li’s thesis research using GIS technology to model the Loess Hills Scenic Byway Corridor for the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Objective: Integrate outreach and research in GIS technology and applications. Through integration of outreach and research, sponsors increase their personal knowledge of GIS applications and the level of GIS technology available to them. Often, sponsors view these projects as a way to build in-house capabilities through GIS databases, models, and analysis techniques designed specifically for their needs. An example is the development of a GIS database and resource suitability models of the Raccoon River Greenbelt for the Dallas County Conservation Board.

Service goal and objectives

My goal in university service is to develop curriculum and infrastructure for computing, curriculum and materials for academic advising, and opportunities for cultural enrichment.

My university service has centered on developing curriculum, infrastructure, materials, and cultural opportunities that benefit a large number of students. I have done this through committee assignments in computer and communication technology, GIS facilities, curriculum, academic advising, and university museums. I have also contributed to cultural enrichment through music performance in events sponsored by the Department of Music. Computing resources are particularly critical in achieving goals and objectives described above for teaching, research, and outreach. Because of my vision of computer integration into all appropriate classes and offices, my involvement in committees that increase access to the university’s computer and communication technology is a high personal priority.

Service outcomes: The university’s capacity is increased for computing, communication technology, academic advising, and cultural enrichment. To help succeed, my current service objectives include the following:

Objective: Provide computing opportunities for students and faculty. Long-term participation in computer committees at the department, college, and university levels has helped provide computer labs, in-studio computing, and the GIS Research and Support Facility. Additional in-studio computing facilities are needed along with GIS teaching facilities.

Objective: Prepare and communicate new materials for academic advising. I recently authored advising materials for graduate students and co-authored a new undergraduate advising handbook for students in the Department of Landscape Architecture. In the future, they will require additional materials and updating. Also, the undergraduate advising handbook needs to be integrated into the department’s Web pages.

Objective: Provide cultural opportunities for ISU students, faculty, and staff. I enjoy performing instrumental music and vocal music as part of campus activities. These activities have ranged from solos (such as Madrigal Dinners) and small ensembles (such as Memorial Day observances) to large ensembles (such as festival choruses). I will continue to participate in these activities because of personal enjoyment and contributions to the university community.

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Last update: 20 September 99