Example Goals for Undergraduate Courses in Hydrogeology
We asked the 70 participants of the workshop Teaching Hydrogeology in the 21st Century to answer the question, "What do I want my students to be able to do when they are done with my entry-level hydro course?" We also asked the same question of Dr. Mary Jo Baedecker (former Chief Scientist for Hydrogeology at the USGS), Dr. Charlie Andrews (President, Papadopoulos & Associates), Dr. Ann Bleed (Nebraska State Hydrogeologist), Dr. Nan Lindsley-Griffin (Emeritus Member, State of Nebraska Board of Geologists), and Dr. Donald Siegel (Professor of Geology, Syracuse University). We have grouped responses to the question by broad content area in the list below.
Goals related to posing and solving problems, designing studies, and dealing with data
- I want students to be able to be able to solve problems in hydrogeology and make decisions about hydrogeologic issues that involve uncertainty in data, scant/incomplete data, and the variability of natural materials.
- I want students to be able, given a hydrogeologic problem/issue to determine what data are necessary to address the issue, how to acquire and interpret the data, how to recognize likely errors in data collection and interpretation, and how to quantify the uncertainty in the "answer".
- I want students to be able to design a field experiment to address a hydrogeologic question (e.g., how would you characterize a site with a contaminated spring?).
- I want students to be able to evaluate data collection practices in terms of ethics.
Goal involving solving an integrated, complex problem with multiple data sets
- I want students to be able to interpret basic hydrological processes such as groundwater flow, water quality issues, water balance and budget at a specific site at local and regional scales based on available geological maps and data sets.
Goal related to water supply/demand
- I want students to be able to plan and carry out a water supply and water demand analysis for an unfamiliar area.
Goals related to groundwater maps and cross sections
- I want students to be able to evaluate hydrogeologic test data and correlate those data with subsurface geology.
- I want students to be able to analyze cross sections for how contaminants will move.
Goals related to groundwater flow
- I want students to be able to predict the effect of heterogeneity on groundwater flow patterns in a new (unfamiliar) setting.
- I want students to be able to understand the concept to hydraulic conductivity sufficiently to be able to construct a water table map and interpret the basic physics of groundwater flow based on a water table map.
- I want students to be able to collect data in the field and determine the groundwater flow direction and evaluate why and how water quality changes from recharge to discharge areas.
- I want students to be able to do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to determine the time it would take for water to move from point A to point B given geology, flow direction, etc.
- I want students to be able to determine the three dimensional geometry of an aquifer system and predict how the geometry influences aquifer flow/dynamics.
Goals related to developing conceptual models
- I want students to be able to conceptualize the geology/hydrogeology of a particular area in three dimensions and be able to predict the effects on a system when changes are imposed on it (e.g., what pumping a well will do to the groundwater table and low, where and how fast a contaminant substance will migrate).
- I want students to be able to make inferences and develop a conceptual model of flow based on field observations.
- I want students to be able to develop a conceptual model that solves a problem and use appropriate mathematical relations to quantify the solution.
- I want students to be able to build numerical and analytical models to test conceptual models.
Goals related to water budgets
- I want student to be able to use real world data to develop a water budget for an unfamiliar basins.
- I want students to be able to estimate components of the water budget and evaluate the budget for an unfamiliar setting.
Goal related to groundwater chemistry
- I want students to be able to interpret groundwater chemical data and correlate the geology with the groundwater chemistry.
Goal related to surface water
- I want students to be able to predict stream response to storm events in an unfamiliar basin.
Goals involving using hydrogeology in decision-making
- I want students to be able to evaluate the consequences at various scales of using groundwater: 1) local/physical changes (e.g., changes in flow), 2) ecosystem changes (e.g., changes in groundwater/surface water interactions), and 3) political/social issues (e.g., water rights).
Goal related to connections with other disciplines
- I want students to be able to evaluate ways in which water influences various geologic processes (weathering, tectonics, etc.).
Goals involving communication skills and self-teaching skills
- I want students to be able to hold an intelligent give-and-take conversation with a professional hydrogeologist about that's person's current project.
- I want students to be able to critically review journal articles.
- I want students to be able to identify interconnections in systems and to predict how changes in one part of the system will influence other parts of the system.
- I want students to be able to pass the hydrogeology part of the ASBOG test.