GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 249-8
Presentation Time: 10:05 AM


PETITT, D.N., Department of Geography & Earth Sciences and Infrastructure & Environmental Systems Ph.D. Program, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., McEniry 324, Charlotte, NC 28223, OWENS, David C., College of Education, Georgia Southern University, 11935 Abercorn Street University Hall, Savannah, GA 31419, LALLY, Diane, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, 3310 Holdrege St, Lincoln, NE 68583 and FORBES, Cory, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 523 Hardin Hall, 3310 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE 68583

Global societies face an array of water-related challenges with significant scientific dimensions. To prepare students to become successful global citizens, postsecondary learning experiences must provide them with the ability to reason about socio-hydrological issues (SHI). However, how students reason, use knowledge to reason, and make decisions about SHI is not well understood. Here, we report on discipline-based education research regarding a new course, Water in Society, in which we engage a diverse population of undergraduates (N = 91). A pre/post-test was used to assess participants’ hydrological content knowledge (HCK) and upon completion of the course, students’ reasoning was assessed and analyzed using a 5-item Quantitative Analysis of Socio-Scientific Reasoning (QuASSR). The QuASSR is a multi-question course assignment grounded in a regionally-relevant SHI. We draw upon data from the pre-/post-test and QuASSR to investigate (1) participants’ development of HCK (2) participants' SSR about SHI, and (3) whether participants’ HCK and SSR were related. Findings were three fold. First, participants were able to develop more robust understanding of core hydrological concepts over the course of the semester. Findings illustrated that HCK had significantly increased upon completion of the course. Second, a number of students exhibited sophisticated reasoning regarding the different dimensions of SSR. However, sophistication varied both within and between the dimensions of SSR, and a number of students’ SSR was highly limited, which suggests that work remains to be done in the development of courses that contribute to students’ water literacy. Third, these findings do not provide support for a strong relationship between students’ understanding of hydrological concepts and their SSR. We provide evidence that SHI can serve as productive contexts through which undergraduate courses can be developed to contribute to the development of functional water literacy.