GETSI Teaching Materials >Eyes on the Hydrosphere: Tracking Water Resources > Assessment
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Assessment of Module Goals

The summative assessment can be used as part of an in-class exam or take-home exam. Note that we define level-1, level-2, and level-3 assessments throughout the module based on Bloom's Taxonomy levels and examples of skills/tasks/actions involved in answering the question. Guide to GETSI Assessment Levels 1, 2, and 3 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 304kB Jun11 17)

Summative assessment is designed to assess the overarching module goals:

Students will:

  1. Analyze the major reservoirs of the hydrosphere and the traditional and geodetic means of measuring their relative contributions to a water budget.
  2. Interpret real geodetic and traditional data sets from watersheds with different hydroclimatic regimes and assess short- and long-term trends in water availability for these watersheds.
  3. Use real data to evaluate the societal effects of changing water supply and demand related to both natural and anthropogenic forcings.

Primary Summative Assessment Questions - together these address the module goals

(1) In Garden City, Kansas, the primary economic engine is agriculture, specifically cultivated wheat and alfalfa. The fields are watered with center-pivot irrigation systems, fed by groundwater pumped from the Ogalalla Aquifer, which extends across much of the Great Plains. Water from the heavily-used Arkansas river (which drains the Southern Rocky Mountains) is also diverted into irrigation ditches along the river.

  • Suggest 3 measurement techniques that would be appropriate for monitoring the status of the water supply for farmers in a given growing season. (Level-2 assessment)
  • Which techniques, different from your answers in part (a), might better suit a researcher interested in long-term changes in aquifer storage over all of Kansas? Explain WHY these techniques would be more effective than your part (a) responses? (Level-3 assessment)

Assessment rubric: rubric_kansascasestudy.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 13kB Mar18 19)

(2) You have been provided with a GRACE time series for Central California for Question 2a-e.

(a) Which reservoir of the hydrosphere is being measured in the plot? (Level-1 assessment)
a) groundwater
b) lakes, rivers, and streams
c) evapotranspiration
d) all of the above reservoirs
scoring: 2 points for correct answer, 0 points for incorrect answer
(b) Calculate the total change in water equivalent height over the period of record (end value minus start value; answer should be in cm).
Next, calculate the average change per year of this long term trend. (Level-1 assessment)
(c) Select a 1-year period of your choice. (For example, the beginning of 2005-beginning of 2006.) Make a sketch of the shape of the data for the 1-year period that you selected, and propose a hypothesis for why the data vary over the course of the year. (Level-2 assessment)
(d) Describe the health of the reservoir in terms of long-term trends in water storage. How do the data provided help you arrive at a conclusion? (Level-2 assessment)
(e) Suggest 3 or more human activities that might be contributing to the short-term and/or long-term trends observed. (Level-2 assessment)

Assessment rubrics for Question 2a-e: rubric_gracequestions.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 17kB Mar21 19)

(3) Level-3 assessment:
How might global warming show up in the 'water calendar' of a western mountain watershed? Answer by sketching on the provided plot. Draw representative annual curves for a typical western mountain watershed in solid lines, and in dashed lines, curves for those same plots in a world where average annual temperatures are warmer (for the sake of simplicity, ignore potential changes in precipitation). In addition to the plots that you constructed, please explain in words:
(a) how your "typical" plot differs from your "warmer world" plot;
(b)which specific environmental processes/characteristics of the hydrosphere caused your 2 plots to differ from one another.
(c) 3 specific examples of how these "warmer world" changes could impact society. You could consider economic, social, political, infrastructure, etc. impacts.

Assessment rubric: rubric_watercalendar.docx (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 14kB Mar18 19)

Other possible summative assessment questions that address Module Goal 1:

(4)

  • Make a labeled sketch illustrating how water moves through the Earth system. On your sketch, label at least 5 reservoirs and use arrows to illustrate how water moves between reservoirs. Each arrow should be labeled with the name of the transport pathway that it represents. (Level-1 assessment)
  • Choose 4 different techniques that scientists could use to understand how a particular reservoir or transport pathway is changing over time. For each technique, provide its name and which water reservoir(s) and/or transport pathway(s) the technique can measure. (Level-1 assessment)
  • For one of the techniques you chose, sketch a hypothetical time-series of what the data might look like in an area that was experiencing drought conditions during a particular time period. Your sketch should be a line graph and include X-axis labels, Y-axis labels, and labels illustrating which part of the time-series represents "normal" conditions and which part of the time-series represents "drought" conditions. (Level-2 assessment)
Example Unit 1 Concept Sketch Rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 93kB Dec19 18)

SERC has additional information about concept sketches as an assessment strategy.

(5) The town of Durango, Colorado sits along the Animas River valley, downstream of the San Juan Mountains. Water is delivered ~year round, but most of what arrives over the winter falls as snow. There are big difference in precipitation between the dry, lower elevations and wet, mountainous areas. Major municipal water sources are surface waters (dammed rivers and intakes directly from river) and ground water (wells drilled into the sediments along the river).

  • Which 3 measurement techniques would be most appropriate for keeping track of the most important reservoirs throughout the year for the city of Durango? (Level-2 assessment)
  • Provide a justification for each measurement technique that you choose--in other words, discuss why it is most appropriate for Durango. (Level-3 assessment)

Other possible summative assessment questions that address Module Goal 2:

(6) Level-2 assessment:

You have been provided with a hydrograph from the Yampa River in northwest Colorado.
(a) Briefly describe the pattern of the annual hydrograph.
(b) What is likely responsible for controlling this pattern?
(c) During the period shown, how have peak flows changed?
(d) During the period shown, how have annual minimum flows changed?

(7) Level-3 assessment:
How could monitoring tools like GRACE, vertical GPS, depth-to-groundwater, SNOTEL, reflection GPS snow depth, and river/lake gages help water managers and water users deal with increasing water scarcity? For each measurement technique, provide a specific example of how the technique could be used to help us adapt to a changing climate.

Other possible summative assessment questions that address Module Goal 3:

(8) Level-1 assessment:
You have been provided with a GRACE time series for Central California. Suggest 3 or more human activities that might be contributing to the short-term and/or long-term trends observed in the data.

(9) Level-3 assessment:
How could monitoring tools like GRACE, vertical GPS, depth-to-groundwater, SNOTEL, reflection GPS snow depth, and river/lake gages help water managers and water users deal with increasing water scarcity? For each measurement technique, provide a specific example of how the technique could be used to help us adapt to a changing climate.

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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »