Using the Project EDDIE Water Quality Module in Introduction to Environmental Studies

Melissa Hage, Emory University

About this Course

Introduction to Environmental Studies

Lecture and Lab

Introductory Undergraduate

Majors and Non-Majors

students in the course




EDDIE Module(s) Adopted and/or Adapted

Water Quality Module

This multi-part module that will be completed over 2 75-min class periods aims to help you understand the variability of concentrations of dissolved substances in stream water and identify some reasons for this variability. You will learn how to find publicly available water quality data. You will explore and evaluate water quality concerns with real-time data from regulatory entities, and learn about water quality ecosystem and human health implications.

Jump to: Course Context | Teaching Details | How It Went | Future Use

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

This module was an excellent fit with my overall course curriculum. We had just finished a section on Agriculture and Ecology of Food, so transitioning to thinking about Nitrate as both a nutrient and pollutant was perfect. It also was a great place to start thinking about Water Quality issues in general. This module was completed over 2 course periods and was then followed by a third class thinking about water quality issues more broadly (rather than focusing on just one nutrient/pollutant) and a fourth class that was a discussion on the Tri-State Water Wars. I found students utilizing knowledge from this module in their discussion points. The module also fit in with Part 2 of the larger division of the class, where Part 1 was focused on understanding the natural world (topics include population dynamics, community interactions and change, evolution, ecosystems, and biodiversity) and Part 2 was understanding human impact on the natural world (human population growth, agriculture and ecology of food, air pollution, water quality, nonrenewable energy source, renewable energy sources, and climate change). The module also fit in nicely with my course learning objectives.

Teaching Details

Did you use the entire EDDIE modules as presented? If not, which components did you use?
I utilized Activities A – D.

What did you change about the module and why?
To prep for implementing the module, I read through the module instructor's document and PowerPoint Presentation. I also attempted to following the instructions from the student handout to try and determine if they needed to be changed in any way to make anything more clear. I ended up shortening the PowerPoint presentation. My mistake was not fully working through the entire module ahead of time. I only worked through one of the examples that utilized data from the USGS site and assumed that the rest of the components that used other USGS data would work, which was not the case. I would recommend anyone utilizing these modules to work through the entire module themselves so ensure that all of the links/data sets are still working and available. Additionally, I read the 2 NY Times articles and created an online (via Canvas) pre-class quiz based on the reading.

What was the prep like?
About 1.5 hours, but it would have been longer if I had actually worked through the entire module in advance.

Adaption Materials

Water Quality Lecture Presentation Modified (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 36.6MB Jun2 20)

Water Quality Module Student Handout Modified (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 38kB Jun2 20)

How did the activity go?

Students liked the connection to their home town/area, so need to include this in some way. Maybe I need to find links for easier to use 303 d material? Maybe I need to assign this as homework or pre-class activity instead?

Despite cutting out material from provided PowerPoint, it still took too long to get through the introductory material on PowerPoint. Students were frustrated that it took too long to get started on the activity because the intro lecture took too long.

It took too long for students to work through Activity B Parts 1 and 2 (Explore Impaired Streams by looking at local 303d lists). Students struggled with finding the asked for information because information provided so differently for each state. My students come from all over the country, so there was no way for me to be prepared to help students find info for each state.

I was never really able to have a full class discussion on material because everyone was working at such different paces.

Future Use

This instructor story and adaption materials were developed during a Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network in partnership with QUBES in the fall of 2019.

Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network logo

I will find a reading for students to do in textbook or elsewhere that covers some of the basics of nutrient vs toxins, watershed management, etc. Will also cover Nitrogen cycle and Phosphorus cycle together during section on Agriculture and Ecology of Food Section. Way too much to cover at the start of this module, with only have 2 75-min classes available for implementation.

I think the biggest variability with timing came with working through first parts of Activity B, so if that part is made as pre-work or homework, that might help.

Neither of the sites used in Activity D (Indian Creek at Fairbury, IL or Leewood, KS) are available on the USGS website. The issue with using the excel data is that it requires the students to then make the graphs themselves, rather than just evaluating the graphs that the USGS website creates for them. For me, there was a time issue with doing this. I had the students work with excel for Part C and wanted them to just use the already created graphs for Part D. It would be great if the graphs of discharge and Nitrate concentration for the date range for each site could be provided on the EDDIE page for this module, in addition to the raw data. Or if different sites could be selected and inserted into the module. 

My students were very familiar with using Excel because we use it a lot in the lab component of class and I had already done a "Learn How to Use Excel" lab at the start of the semester, but I can see how this component would slow down others trying to implement the module. 

I will consider just providing students some of the excel sheets or graphs in the future if I need to save time. I think the main focus of the module could be data interpretation rather than understanding how to access online datasets from the USGS, as most of my students are not majors. 
Overall, I think the module has a great deal of potential and I would definitely utilize it again. I just need to think more intentionally about how to allow for the important discussions associated with the topic. When I asked students on the end of the semester evaluation what aspects of the course should be continued in the future, several students mentioned the EDDIE modules done in class.