Meeting: Thursday, 5:30pm – 8:00pm, Anderson 22

Instructor Info:

  • Prof. Lee Hachadoorian
  • 104 Gladfelter Hall – In GIS Studio, knock or enter 103A
  • Office Hours TBD
    • Note that I intend to arrive early to class (~5pm) as often as possible this term. All office hours will be remote on a schedule to be determined.

General Information

Purpose of the Course

A wide variety of social and environmental phenomena, including crime, urban development, pollution, and commuting, are influenced by or affect people where they live and work. Data gathered by the United States Census Bureau are used across a wide variety of fields for everything from market research to public health research. The purpose of this course is to:

  • Provide significant exposure to and experience with the Decennial Census and American Community Survey
  • Familiarize the student with other Census products
  • Teach a selection of widely used methods for analysis of Census data, and combining census data with other sources of data
  • Teach how to work with Census data products in an automated and reproducible fashion


There are no course prerequisites; however a working knowledge of Windows and basic file management is expected.


This course will make heavy use of free and open source software. All software will be installed on lab computers. Since the software is free, students may also install all software on their own computers or laptops. If you have a laptop that you can bring to class, you may prefer to work on your own laptop, so that you don’t have to shuffle data between lab computers and flash drives. Also, if you prefer working on Mac, the software we use for this course is cross-platform and can be installed on Mac.

Note, however, that sometimes students have laptops that are old and slow, or find that the software we are using doesn’t install correctly. I will try to help you troubleshoot installation issues, but using your own laptop is a convenience. If it reaches the point where using your own laptop is actually less convenient than using university computers, you will not be able to use your own laptop.


Your attendance percentage will also indicate the maximum final grade you can earn in this course. If you miss 3 classes in a once-a-week course, or 6 classes in a twice-a-week course, you have attended 78.6% of class meetings. Accordingly, your final grade will not be higher than a C+, regardless of any other work completed. Please see my attendance policy at my Temple web page:

Note for Summer terms: This course meets twelve times during a six-week term. Missing any class meetings will hamper your ability to complete the work in this course.


Exploring the U.S. Census: Your Guide to America’s Data by Frank Donnelly (SAGE, 2019): This book is also on order with the campus store and available through Amazon. It is available as an eTextbook or hard copy.

The textbook is very reasonably priced at $45. In addition to the fact that the course will make use of lab exercises in the textbook, there hasn’t really been comparable product available until now. I highly recommend that you purchase it and keep it as a reference for your future academic and professional careers.

A number of exercises will be assigned using DataCamp, an online learning platform for data science:

Assignments and Grading

You will earn points along several tracks. Each track is worth 100 points. Your must progress along ALL tracks to be successful in this course. The tracks are not averaged. Your final grade is the based on the lowest score earned along any track.

For some of the assignments (particularly the lab exercises, and early term project milestones) you will have the opportunity to resubmit the assignment for a higher grade.

Your attendance score is a straight percentage of class sessions you are present for.
Lab Exercises
Labs will be worth 5-10 points (half to one letter grade in your final grade). Due dates and specific points associated with each exercise will be posted to Canvas. Lab exercises which are submitted on time will be allowed one revision.
Term Project
The term project will be completed in milestones. Points will be awarded for each milestone. This is a group project, with groups of 3-4 students. The full specification will be detailed separately, and separate standards will apply to graduate students and undergrads. Graduate students will be expected to be the project leads. Undergraduates will not be evaluated on the project proposal, but will be evaluated on their contribution to the interim and final reports, and their participation in the final presentation.
Student-Led Tutorial
Graduate students will develop a tutorial based on an analytical method they are applying in their term project. This could involve introducing a new dataset, an analysis using data and software we have already discussed, a new R package, a new QGIS plugin, etc. It must be cleared with me beforehand.

Disability Policy

This course is open to all students who meet the academic requirements for participation. Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible. Contact Disability Resources and Services at 215-204-1280 in 100 Ritter Annex to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Academic Honesty

All submitted work should be your own. Please read my guide to Academic Integrity at

Classroom Environment

All persons participating in the course should be respectful of other students and the instructor in order to facilitate a civil learning environment. All persons participating in the course have a right to expect respectful treatment in the classroom.

Statement on Academic Freedom

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The University has adopted a policy on Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities (Policy # 03.70.02) which can be downloaded from

Due Dates

Due dates will be posted to Canvas. Labs will generally be expected to be completed in about one week.

Working with Other Students

I encourage students to work together on lab assignments and assist each other in understanding the course material. However, all contents of each student’s lab reports (text and graphics) must be authored solely by that student.


Each lab assignment will indicate how to access data for that assignment. Exercises will typically take longer than one or two lab sessions to complete, so you will need to save incomplete labs so that you may continue to work on them at another time. It is the student’s responsibility to understand how data and projects are saved, and to manage and back up their own data and assignments. Please bring a USB flash drive or external hard drive with you to all class meetings. Storage has gotten so cheap that I would not even consider getting less than a 16GB flash drive, which will probably cost under $10. For each assignment, I suggest you copy all relevant data files to that device in a folder (e.g. named “Lab_01”) and then perform the lab assignments by working off the device.

Students using their own laptops will not have to worry about transferring their project files between lab computers and their personal devices. However, keep in mind that hard drives crash and portable devices go missing. You are responsible for keeping backups of your data. I highly recommend using a “set and forget” backup or filesharing service to store all of your files.

Keep in mind that everyone has access to Microsoft OneDrive using their TU credentials. OwlBox ( is being phased out.

Temple and COVID-19

Temple University’s motto is Perseverance Conquers, and we will meet the challenges of the COVID pandemic with flexibility and resilience. The university has made plans for multiple eventualities. Working together as a community to deliver a meaningful learning experience is a responsibility we all share: we’re in this together so we can be together.

How This Course Will Be Taught

This course meets in person at the time and place indicated above. In-person activities and instruction for the fall 2020 semester will end Nov. 20, at the start of the fall break. The remaining week of classes, study period and finals will be conducted remotely.

During the latter part of the semester, student teams will be presenting tutorials. We may run these tutorials as remote sessions, even if campus is open.

This course has no final exam. Student project presentations will be conducted remotely during the final class session.

Attendance Protocol and Your Health

If you feel unwell, you should not come to campus, and you will not be penalized for your absence. Instructors are required to ensure that attendance is recorded for each in-person or synchronous class session. The primary reason for documentation of attendance is to facilitate contact tracing, so that if a student or instructor with whom you have had close contact tests positive for COVID-19, the university can contact you. Recording of attendance will also provide an opportunity for outreach from student services and/or academic support units to support students should they become ill. Faculty and students agree to act in good faith and work with mutual flexibility. The expectation is that students will be honest in representing class attendance.

Student Support Services

If you are experiencing food insecurity or financial struggles, Temple provides resources and support. Notably, the Temple University Cherry Pantry and the Temple University Emergency Student Aid Program are in operation as well as a variety of resources from the Office of Student Affairs.

Technology specifications for this course

Limited resources are available for students who do not have the technology they need for class. Students with educational technology needs, including no computer or camera or insufficient Wifi-access, should submit a request outlining their needs using the Student Emergency Aid Fund form. The University will endeavor to meet needs, such as with a long-term loan of a laptop or Mifi device, a refurbished computer, or subsidized internet access.
Note that some software is available for free download on the ITS Academic Support page. Other specialty software may be available for remote access through ITS.

Remote Proctoring Statement

Zoom, Proctorio or a similar proctoring tool may be used to proctor exams and quizzes in this course. These tools verify your identity and record online actions and surroundings. It is your responsibility to have the necessary government or school issued ID, a laptop or desktop computer with a reliable internet connection, the Google Chrome and Proctorio extension, a webcam/built-in camera and microphone, and system requirements for using Proctorio, Zoom, or a similar proctoring tool. Before the exam begins, the proctor may require a scan of the room in which you are taking the exam.

Statement on Recording of Class Sessions

Class sessions may not be recorded, whether in person or remote, except in cases of an approved accommodation from the Office of Disability Resources (DRS).

Expectations for Class Conduct

In order to maintain a safe and focused learning environment, we must all comply with the four public health pillars: wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, washing our hands and monitoring our health. It is also important to foster a respectful and productive learning environment that includes all students in our diverse community of learners. Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University’s nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Therefore, all opinions and experiences, no matter how different or controversial they may be perceived, must be respected in the tolerant spirit of academic discourse.

Treat your classmates and instructor with respect in all communication, class activities, and meetings. You are encouraged to comment, question, or critique an idea but you are not to attack an individual. Please consider that sarcasm, humor and slang can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Profanity should be avoided as should the use of all capital letters when composing responses in discussion threads, which can be construed as “shouting” online. Remember to be careful with your own and others’ privacy. In general, have your behavior mirror how you would like to be treated by others.


Please bear in mind that COVID-19 may result in a need for new or additional accommodations.