Effect of Integrating Hydrologic Scaling Concepts on Students Learning and Decision Making Experiences

ABSTRACT

Proper understanding of scaling and large-scale hydrologic processes is often not explicitly incorporated in the teaching curriculum. This makes it difficult for students to connect the effect of small scale processes and properties (like soil texture and structure, aggregation, shrinkage, and cracking) on large scale hydrologic responses (like watershed runoff). An instructional module that introduces the concept of process-based scaling, as the framework to connect hydrologic processes and properties at different scales, was developed and evaluated. This paper examines how incorporating the concept of scaling into student curriculum impacts students’ learning and decision making capabilities. It presents the evaluation of this module in an undergraduate environmental and natural resources engineering course. Evaluation results supported the hypothesis that introducing the concept of scaling and its application (using computer models) into undergraduate engineering courses enhanced students’ learning and decision making skills. Students’ levels of confidence in their knowledge of hydrologic systems also increased after the introduction of the scaling concept and following computer modeling exercises.

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Majdi R. Abou Najm
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Rabi H. Mohtar
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Keith A. Cherkauer
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Brian F. French
College of Education
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

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