GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 68-11
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


FORBES, Cory1, BROZOVIĆ, Nick2, FRANZ, Trenton1 and LALLY, Diane1, (1)School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, 3310 Holdrege St, Lincoln, NE 68583, (2)Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Innovation Campus, Lincoln, NE 68583-6203,

Societies today face an array of global, water-related challenges with significant scientific dimensions. Socio-hydrological issues such as these provide a strong rationale for the importance of systemic science education efforts at the post-secondary level aimed at cultivating scientific literacy among undergraduates who will be tomorrow’s global citizens. To effectively engage in the socio-hydrological systems of which they are a part, students should develop a robust understanding of core hydrological concepts and social, cultural, economic, and political dimensions of socio-hydrological systems. However, prior research has illustrated limitations in undergraduate students’ disciplinary knowledge and little research has been conducted to understand how they use this knowledge to solve problems and make decisions about socio-hydrological systems (i.e., water literacy). To begin to address this need, we are engaged in a 3-year Improving Undergraduate STEM Education project funded by NSF focused on the iterative design, implementation, and study of a new, interdisciplinary course - Water in Society – at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). We hypothesize that students with more robust knowledge of disciplinary content and dispositions aligned with the scientific enterprise will navigate the non-scientific dimensions of water-related issues to make more effective decisions about them. To test this hypothesis, and better understand undergraduate students’ decision-making about socio-hydrological issues, we ask 1) to what extent do undergraduate students learn to engage in more effective decision-making about socio-hydrological issues? And b) how do course- and student-level factors influence undergraduate students’ decision-making about socio-hydrological issues? The project utilizes theoretically-grounded and empirically-tested approaches to design-based research, course design, and assessment development, to engage in iterative cycle of instructional innovation and discipline-based education research. The project is novel in its mobilization of perspectives from multiple fields to develop a theoretically-informed, transdisciplinary course that promotes cross-fertilization between hydrologists, STEM educators, DBERs, and the decision scientists.
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