Assessment of Module Goals

Below, you will find a list of assessments for each unit of the module, as well as assessments for the module as a whole. Each unit has associated with it formative and/or summative assessments to measure student progress toward individual unit learning outcomes. Additionally, the embedded assessment questions below are particularly helpful for measuring student progress toward key points of understanding in the overall module. These questions focus specifically on the question of what constitutes "the environment," the quantities of fresh water used by people for different purposes, the effects of surface water diversion and groundwater withdrawal in human and other communities, and the disparate effects of water scarcity in relation to gender, race and class. Finally, to assess overall learning in this module, you will find a summative assessment question related to the overriding module goal. This question directly assesses how well students can integrate what they have learned about the hydrologic cycle with societal impacts of human manipulations of the water cycle.

Overall Module Assessments

Summative Assessment

Using one or more labeled diagrams, describe a component of the hydrologic cycle (or processes that affect the components) that might result in unequal access to freshwater resources, and explain our difficulties in making sure that hydrologic systems are not altered in ways that favor one group of living beings over another. Describe two ways that manipulations of the hydrologic cycle might impact human communities and two ways that humans might mitigate the effects of such changes.

(Note: instructors may choose to separate this summative assessment into two questions to facilitate grading.)

Summative assessment rubric (Microsoft Word 28kB Jul1 15)

Unit Assessments

Note: Rubrics for these unit assessments are presented on the individual unit pages.

Unit 1 Assessments:

The Unit 1 assessment is a minute paper (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 37kB Jan8 15) in which students:

  • Clearly describe at least two events or examples from Unit 1 that they personally
    considered significant and explain why they found them meaningful.
  • Discuss a potential example of an environmental hazard for their city or region.

Unit 2 Assessments:

By the end of Unit 2, students should be able to:

  • Predict whether the atmosphere or land contains more water.
  • Rank the components of the land (ice caps, streams and lakes, soil, plants and animals, groundwater) in order on the basis of which stores more fresh water.
  • Explain why precipitation over the oceans is less than evaporation from the oceans.

Unit 3 Assessments:

By the end of Unit 3, students should be able to:

  • Use the Google Earth watershed activity drainage basin exercise to investigate the drainage basins of the Four Streams region in Hawaii. As a result of the investigation they will be able to address questions about the relationship between topography and surface water flow. Students should also be able to address questions relevant to environmental justice issues and surface water in Maui.
  • Students shall write down one aspect about water that they knew before this unit and describe how that view has changed as a result of the information examined in this unit. Additionally, students might record one new concept that they learned as well as one principle that remains unclear. Collect the students' reflections as a formative assessment of comprehension level. This assessment might also provide the opportunity to consider the degree to which understanding of the hydrologic cycle presented in Unit 2 affected student ability to apply that knowledge to a practical situation—in this case, that of the island of Maui.

Unit 4 Assessments:

  • Compare and contrast water scarcity and water access issues, especially as those issues impact women, in three countries in the Global South: India, Kenya, and Trinidad.
  • On the schematic diagram of a rain shadow, indicate the wind direction and area resulting in precipitation and area of aridity.
  • Women in the Global South often:

A. Do not have equal access to water resources as do men in their communities.

B. Experience violence owing to scarcity of water resources.

C. Are responsible for chores that require access to water.

D. Find solutions to water scarcity to meet daily necessities.

E. All of the above.

Unit 5 Assessments:

  • Create a timeline of five significant events in the history of Love Canal. Give one example of the value to community members of knowledge of aspects of the hydrologic system in attempting to explain their plight.
  • Compare and contrast Love Canal land use in the past and the current conditions.
  • Estimate how long toxic materials and wastes flowed from the Love Canal to the closest homes.
  • On a diagram of stratigraphic layers in a groundwater system, label the confined aquifer, unconfined aquifer and confining layer, regions of precipitation and infiltration, and groundwater flow direction.
  • Which of the following occurred because of chemicals buried in Love Canal?

A. Steel drums rusted releasing hazardous waste into the soil.

B. Children were developing burns and getting sick.

C. Toxic swamps were created by heavy rains.

D. All of the above.

  • Which individual led the social movement to draw attention to the toxic materials at Love Canal?

A. William T. Love

B. Erin Brockovich

C. Lois Gibbs

D. Jimmy Carter

Unit 6 Assessments:

Students will be able to explain the importance of groundwater availability and conservation in the United States by answering the following questions pertaining to the Ogallala Aquifer:

  • Describe the significance of the Ogallala Aquifer to US agriculture and explain why agricultural production is concentrated in this region of the country.
  • How might the groundwater of the Ogallala Aquifer be connected to the hydrological cycle and how is this relationship affected by overuse of the groundwater?
  • What potential groups in society may be affected by overuse of the groundwater and why?
  • You have been asked by a farmer in Amarillo, Texas, to explore the reasons why some of his wells are no longer producing water. Utilizing data from the USGS website, give a reason for the declining groundwater levels in the region and suggest steps that could be taken to minimize the problem in the future.