Flood Curves Lecture Tutorial

Karen M. Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island
Jessica J. Smay, San Jose City College

This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.


Students work in pairs on this worksheet in class after a short introductory lecture on how water reaches streams. Questions begin by addressing infiltration and the effect of surface runoff vs. groundwater flow on flooding. Students then progress to examine how humans change the amount of infiltration, and students must determine how the severity of floods can change as a result.

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Learning Goals

Students will be able to explain how humans alter the severity of floods by decreasing infiltration. Higher-order thinking skills include critical thinking and simple graph reading. Group work skills are also developed by this activity.

Context for Use

This activity can be used in an introductory physical geology course of any size with no special equipment necessary. Students should have a basic understanding of infiltration and how water reaches a stream through surface runoff of groundwater flow. Students in groups complete this 10-15 minute Lecture Tutorial worksheet after a short lecture on the topic during class. Lecture Tutorials are most effective when used frequently in a course. Read more about how to use Lecture Tutorials

Description and Teaching Materials

Flood Curves Lecture Tutorial worksheet (Acrobat (PDF) 39kB Jan13 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

For full discussion of how to use Lecture Tutorials, please check the Lecture Tutorials Main Page


Lecture Tutorial worksheets are designed to help student confront their misconceptions, but generally they are not graded. Selected questions are reviewed and answered by the instructor during class. Rather than grade the Lecture Tutorials, exam questions covering that material can be used as assessment.

References and Resources

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