Water in Society: A Five-Year Evaluation Study of an Interdisciplinary Course to Support Undergraduate Students' Water Literacy

Friday 11:15-11:45am PT / 12:15-12:45pm MT / 1:15-1:45pm CT / 2:15-2:45pm ET Online


Cory Forbes, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Silvia Jessica Mostacedo Marasovic, The University of Texas at Arlington

To prepare students to address water-related challenges, undergraduate STEM education must provide them with opportunities to learn and reason about water issues. "Water in Society" is an introductory-level, innovative, and interdisciplinary undergraduate course offered annually at a large midwestern university from 2017 to 2021. The course focuses on both disciplinary concepts and civic engagement, and is designed around a variety of interactive, research-based practices to support students' learning, engagement with authentic data, scientific models and modeling, and collaboration and learning among peers. This study aims to evaluate, "how have student outcomes and perceptions changed overfiveyears of the course?".The results are based on data from students (n=326) in five consecutive years of the course. Multiple measures are used to evaluate students' learning about water content knowledge, model-based use, and students' perceptions about the course. By the end of each iteration of the course, students improved their knowledge of hydrologic concepts, independent of their initial level. Students may need more guidance to use and interpret the results from the computer-based water model to address socio-scientific issues for water challenges, especially in an online setting. The transition to an online and fully asynchronous mode as a response to COVID19 required to adapt the communication between instructors and students, and among students. Although different opportunities for communication were provided, students may need additional encouragement to take advantage of these resources.