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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Enhancing Undergraduate Water Resources Engineering Education Using Data and Modeling Resources Situated in Real-world Ecosystems: Design Principles and Challenges for Scaling and Sustainability
by Deshotel, Matthew Wayne, M.S., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2017, 126; 10266036
Abstract (Summary)

Recent research and technological advances in the field of hydrology and water resources call for parallel educational reforms at the undergraduate level. This thesis describes the design, development, and evaluation of a series of undergraduate learning modules that engage students in investigative and inquiry-based learning experiences and introduces data analysis and numerical modeling skills. The modules are situated in the coastal hydrologic basins of Louisiana, USA. Centered on the current crisis of coastal land loss in the region, the modules immerse students in a suite of active-learning experiences in which they prepare and analyze data, reproduce model simulations, interpret results, and balance the beneficial and detrimental impacts of several real-world coastal restoration projects. The modules were developed using a web-based design that includes geospatial visualization via a built-in map-interface, textual instructions, video tutorials, and immediate feedback mechanisms. Following pilot implementations, an improvement-focused evaluation was conducted to examine the effectiveness of the modules and their potential for advancing students’ experiences with modeling-based analysis in hydrology and water resources. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected including Likert-scale surveys, student performance grades, informal interviews, and text-response surveys. Students’ perceptions indicated that data and modeling-driven pedagogy using local real-world projects contributed to their learning and served as an effective supplement to instruction. The evaluation results also pointed out some key aspects on how to design effective and conducive undergraduate learning experiences that adopt technology-enhanced, data and modeling-based strategies, and how to pedagogically strike a balance between sufficient module complexity, ensurance of students’ continuous engagement, and flexibility to fit within existing curricula limitations. Additionally, to investigate how such learning modules can achieve large scale adoption, a total of 100 interviews were conducted with academic instructors and practicing professionals in the field of hydrology and water resources engineering. Key perspectives indicate that future efforts should appease hindering factors such as steep learning curves, lack of assessment data, refurbishment requirements, rigidness of material, time limitations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Habib, Emad
Commitee: Habib, Emad, Khattak, Mohammad, Sun, Xiaoduan, Williams, Doug
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Civil Engineering
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 56/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Hydrologic sciences, Civil engineering, Water Resource Management
Keywords: Active-learning, Coastal hydrology, Coastal louisiana, Data-driven learning, Hydrology education, Web-based education
Publication Number: 10266036
ISBN: 978-0-355-11410-2
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