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Monitoring The Poultney River: A Service-Learning Project with the Poultney Mettowee Watershed Partnership

submitted by

John G Van Hoesen, Green Mountain College
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Nov 5, 2004

Hydrology students are asked to participate in a service-learning project that involves a long-term stream monitoring project. The strengths of this laboratory exercise are that it integrates classroom knowledge with fieldwork, as well as providing the students with a "reason" for doing the lab.
GSA Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 1.3MB Nov5 04)

Learning Goals

Content/Concepts:

Geologic Skills:

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Other Skills:

Context

Instructional Level:
This course is taught at an environmental liberal arts college attended exclusively by undergraduate students. However, courses at any level could utilize a field-based service-learning module.

Skills Needed:

Role of Activity in a Course:
This exercise is used as a field-experience that integrates concepts from class lecture and previous laboratory assignments.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:

Logistical Challenges:
There are a number of challenges when trying to establish a long term monitoring project within an undergraduate hydrology course:

Evaluation

Evaluation Goals:
My ultimate goal is to evaluate whether the students felt any more "invested" in their laboratory experience. Peripheral goals involve the students bridging the gap between the classroom and "real-world" field experiences and becoming familiar with hydrologic field techniques and equipment.

Evaluation Techniques:
I administered a reflection/evaluation form for the students to fill out after they completed the lab. I was more concerned with their thoughts and concerns regarding the service-learning component of the exercise and wish I had asked more questions evaluating whether the students felt the exercise was more helpful for learning how to use the field equipment.

Description

During the spring 2004 semester, students at Green Mountain College enrolled in an introductory hydrology course collaborated with fellow students in an introductory chemistry class on a service-learning project. The students were responsible for establishing a long-term monitoring project along Poultney River in east-central Vermont working with the Poultney Mettowee Watershed Partnership (PMWP), a local non-profit conservation group.

The students collected cross-sectional profiles, discharge measurements, average grain size data (pebble counts), sampling sketches, and site descriptions. These data were delivered to the PMWP at the end of spring 2004 and represent "year one" in the long-term monitoring project.

In addition, the students expressed increased interest and support of the laboratory exercise with the addition of a service-learning module.