Course Policies for GEOG 482

Assignment Policy

Lesson quizzes and the final cumulative exam are submitted online through Penn State's "ANGEL" course management system.

All three project assignments culminate in reports that must be published in students' Penn State personal Web space accounts. Students publish project reports in the personal e-portfolios throughout the Certificate Program in GIS.

Exam Policy

The purpose of the quizzes and final exam is to direct students' study of course lessons. Ungraded "practice" quizzes, graded lesson quizzes, and the final exam are all "open book" format. Students are encouraged to consult the lessons as they prepare answers to quiz and exam questions.

Late Policy

The Certificate Program in GIS was designed for adult professionals. It is expected that students will have scheduling conflicts from time to time. (Instructors do too!) When conflicts arise, students should notify instructors and request deadline extensions. Reasonable requests are granted without penalty.


Course grades are awarded on the basis of weighted percentages of assignment points earned. You can earn up to 710 assignment points through graded quizzes, up to 290 through a final exam, and up to 350 points through project assignments. At the conclusion of the course your instructor calculates the percentages of possible points you earned in each of the three categories of assignments. Percentages associated with quizzes and the exam each account for one quarter of your total course score. The percentage of points you earned on projects accounts for half. Finally, letter grades are awarded on the following basis:

A 90-100%
A- 87.5-89.9%
B+ 85-87.4%
B 80-84.9%
B- 77.5-79.9%
C+ 75-77.4%
C 70-74.9%
D 60-69.9%
F <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.

Note: Students need to earn at least a "C" grade in all four courses to be eligible for the GIS certificate.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade for that course deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a request in writing (by e-mail or surface mail) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If for any reason the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

For a refund schedule, please see the World Campus Student Policies Web site.

Academic Integrity

Penn State's Department of Geography awards certificates of achievement in GIS to individuals who successfully complete a sequence of four courses. It almost goes without saying that "successful completion" involves doing one's own work. Unfortunately, there have been rare instances in which individuals have attempted to pass off other students' assignments as their own. To minimize such incidents, we make it a habit of stating our academic integrity policy up front.

Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include forfeited assignments, course failure, or disqualification from the certificate program.

The academic integrity policy of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (which includes the Department of Geography) is published at

Citation and Reference Style

We expect that the text and graphics you submit as part of your assignments are original. You may build upon ideas, words and illustrations produced by others, but you must acknowledge such contributions formally. Unacknowledged contributions are considered to be plagiarized. This policy specifies when and how you should acknowledge contributions of others to your own work.

Citations and references will appear in three different parts of the project reports and other assignments you submit as a student in the Certificate Program in GIS:

  1. Text citations
  2. Graphics citations
  3. References/Bibliography

Different disciplines adopt different standards for citations and references. Moreover, almost every professional publication enforces its own variation on the standard styles. The most widely used styles include:

The following Web site, published by Long Island University, provides a good overview of each style:

This course uses the APA stlye documented at the Purdue Online Writing Lab at While we do not insist that our students adopt any particular style, we do expect two things:

  1. Whenever you include text, a graphic, or an idea that is not your own, acknowledge the contribution in such a way that enables readers to find the original source; and
  2. Consistently apply one style of citations and references throughout all your assignments.

A. Text Citations

We recommend parenthetical citations that include author(s) name(s) and year of publication.

Quotations: Page numbers should also be included when direct quotations are cited. Complete references corresponding to each citation should appear in the reference list at the end of every assignment report.

Text Citations Example #1 -- A quotation: List the author(s), date of publication and page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence with the quotation.

Does geographic information science merit recognition as a distinct field? Some claim that the distinction is justified, but only if "we...first establish that spatial, or rather, geographical, data are unique" (Goodchild 1992, p. 32).

Paraphrasing: Most often you will cite ideas rather than quotations. Your ability to paraphrase and build upon the work of others constitutes more convincing evidence of your professional and intellectual development than your ability to assemble series of quotations. The Student Judicial Services office at the University of Texas has published the following excellent explanation of proper paraphasing (note the extended quotation is set apart as a "block quote"):

Text Citations Example #2 -- A paraphrased idea: List author and the date in parentheses at the end of the relevant sentence.

Goodchild (1992) argues that geographic information science ought to be considered a distinct field because georeferenced data embody unique characteristics.

B. Graphics Citations

In the same way that you may quote and acknowledge limited passages of published text, you may also include illustrations created by others in your assignments. However, works produced by others included in your assignments without acknowledgement are considered to be plagiarized. What constitutes proper acknowledgement for graphics? That depends on the affiliation of the author(s).

Public domain graphics: Any illustration produced by an employee of an agency of the U.S. government is said to be in the "public domain"--meaning that it is not subject to copyright, and can be reused without permission. Students should acknowledge such works, however, with the names or affiliations of the authors and the publication date, as shown in Example 1 below. Full citations should follow in the reference list at the end of your report.

Graphics Citations Example #1 - Public domain source.

Choropleth map showing nominal-level data. (Brewer and Suchan 2001).

Copyrighted graphics: Any illustration not produced by an employee of an agency of the U.S. government is protected by copyright law. In general, copyrighted illustrations should only be used with authors' written permission. A provision of copyright law called "fair use" permits reuse of copyrighted illustrations for strictly educational purposes, however. (You can learn more about fair use at In the context of the Certificate Program in GIS, you may reuse copyrighted illustrations without permission provided that you include in your caption a parenthetical citation with the names or affiliations of the authors and the publication date. Additionally, you must acknowledge the authors' copyright, and state that you have used the illustration for educational purposes only. Full citations should follow in the reference list at the end of your report.

Graphics Citations Example #2 - Copyrighted source.

Trade areas defined by 3 miles travel distance (blue) and 8 minutes travel time (yellow) (Francica 1999). ©1999 Geodezix. All rights reserved. Reproduced here for educational purposes only.

C. References

At the end of your report, you must list the full bibliographic citations of the works you have used. References should include the following:

Reference Examples

Basic Book

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle. Location: Publisher.

Chrisman, N. (1997). Exploring geographic information systems. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Chapter of an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.

Cowen, D. J. & Jensen, J. R. (1998). Extraction and Modeling of Urban Attributes Using Remote Sensing Technology. In D. Liverman, E. F. Moran, R. R. Rindfuss & P. C. Stern (Eds.), People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science (pp. 164 – 188). Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press, National Research Council.

Edition other than First

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Subtitle. (# ed.). Location: Publisher.

Lillesand, T. & Kiefer, R. (1994). Remote sensing and image interpretation (3rd ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Article in a Periodical

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.

Goodchild, M. (1992). Geographical information science. International Journal of Geographic Information Systems 6:1, 31-45.

Electronic Source

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved month date, year, from http://Web address (n. d.). Welcome to TopoZone. Retrieved February 4, 2001, from

Article from an Online Periodical

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of journal, volume number(issue number if available). Retrieved month day, year, from

Bernstein, M. (2002). 10 tips on writing the living Web. A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 149. Retrieved May 2, 2006 from

Citing this course

DiBiase, D. (1999-2004). The Nature of Geographic Data, Lesson n, Part p, Section q. The Pennsylvania State University World Campus Certificate Program in GIS. Retrieved month, day, year

Topographical Map

Author. “Sheet title” (date). [format]. Edition. Scale. Series, sheet number. Place of publication, Date.

United States Geologic Survey. "Bellefonte, PA Quadrangle" (1971). [map]. 1:24 000. 7.5 minute series. Washington, D.C.:USGS.

Accommodating Disabilities

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the World Campus in advance of your participation or visit.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review the section on "Netiquette" in our World Campus student orientation, "WC 101," for specific guidelines.

Additional Course Policies

For information about additional policies regarding items such as

please see the World Campus Student Policies Web site.

© 1999-2006 The Pennsylvania State University