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Steven Lizotte, Salt Lake Community College

During his three years as a part-time geosciences tutor at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), Steven Lizotte used his retail sales background to build interest in geographic information systems (GIS).

To faculty he suggested ways to incorporate GIS technologies in their courses. He pointed out that the multidisciplinary skill sets these technologies use are now listed simply as GIS in job advertisements. And he explained how the GIS tutors, funded with the NISGTC grant, could guide students on the GIS aspects of their assignments.

Then when students taking environmental studies, geology, and biology stopped by the open lab for help on those GIS-infused assignments, Lizotte would encourage them to enroll in the introductory GIS course.

An average of 14 students per day accessed the GIS lab staffed by NISGTC-funded tutors. Usage grew from 103 student visits in fall 2013 to 362 in spring 2015. Lizotte said many students, particularly the older adults enrolled in geomatics and geospatial certificate programs, came multiple times during a semester.

SLCC has hired Lizotte to continue offering geosciences tutoring after the grant ends. At SLCC he earned associate degrees in GIS and geography, and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

His favorite part of tutoring occurs when students work through a frustrating lesson to find an “emotional connection” between the geospatial concepts and their personal geography. “Then it just clicks with them, and it’s fun to see them become engaged with their work,” he said.