Acid Mine Drainage Research as a Tool for Teaching Geochemistry and Hydrogeology
Conducting research as an undergraduate helps prepare students for a career in science. Of the students that have worked on the acid mine drainage project, all have gone on to funded graduate positions or successful jobs in NGO or consulting industries. This success is due to 1) an enhanced understanding of the material, 2) increased critical thinking abilities developed by investigating open-ended questions, and 3) experience communicating the outcomes of the research at local or national forums (like, for example, GSA). The importance of the research experience for increased understanding of geochemistry and hydrogeology has been specifically documented in exit interviews and unsolicited reports from the student researchers. Additionally, the academic performance of these students in other content areas (structural geology, sedimentology) has been favorably noted by other instructors in the department. Although supervising research students can be highly time consuming for the instructor/research mentor, it is also rewarding because it is a very effective teaching method.