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February 19, 2019
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Stephen Beck
(Geography/ Earth Science)

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Subject: Beck = Just as Amazing as the Singer  (Nov 13 2008, 08:46PM)
Student: The Dorky One (History/Geography--GIS)
Class:GIS I (B+)
 12 of 45 students found this review helpful.

 I took GIS I in the fall semester, 2007 with Dr. Smith. I'll admit, I thought it was rocky, and though she tried being effective with teaching, GIS seemed like a headache everyday. When I got a 69.3% for a final grade, I felt discouraged from continuing the geography major. In July '08 I was fortunate on re-taking the course with a GIS analyst, Professor Steve Beck. Professor Beck was one of the kindest, most energetic, helpful professors I ever met. Though I appreciated Dr. Smith's philosophy of "doing GIS on your own," Professor Beck sat down and showed you how to approach a GIS problem, step by step. His tests were straightforward, and though the study guide took time to complete, as long as you knew your terms and kept up with the homework, you were fine for exams. The Powerpoint lectures were a bit boring, I'll admit, but when he freed time up to give you time for doing the problems, it seemed enjoyable. He would even use examples from his job--i.e., parcel data in Philadelphia--and apply it to a unit to better aid our understanding. Quizzes demonstrated how well you knew the chapter based on reading. The final product at the end of the semester was to use GIS analysis concerning a specific problem, how you approached it, what data fields you could add and upload from the web, and applying it to the GIS map. In the end, the result was a map that answered the problem that you endeavored to solve. His class seemed one-on-one, real world based, and he had an enthusiasm for teaching the course effectively. I have no further substantial suggestions for improving the course. If he taught GIS I again, many people can benefit toward being comfortable with the software, as well as approaching a problem and being able to solve it. The other positive: he would hold office hours for three hours, with a willingness to sit down with you and assist with any problems you were having in the course. In my overall assessment, I think it would be nice to have him teach GIS I or II for a three hour night class. Though it should be more concentrated twice a week, Beck would be able to structure the class effectively to meet one's needs. Considering he works at a GIS firm, he can show beginners how to get comfortable with a piece of software that would seem intimidating. I wish the Geography Dept. would hire him to teach one night class per semester; his experience in the field is an asset to the department, and he could help many students in overcoming one-on-one problems with vector data. Please take him if you get the chance.
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