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Article

Assessing Water Literacy: Undergraduate Student Conceptions of Groundwater and Surface Water Flow

1
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA
2
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Cory T. Forbes
Water 2021, 13(5), 622; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050622
Received: 22 January 2021 / Revised: 19 February 2021 / Accepted: 24 February 2021 / Published: 27 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Literacy and Education)
Given the importance of fresh water, we investigated undergraduate students’ understanding of water flow and its consequences. We probed introductory geology students’ pre-instruction knowledge using a classroom management system at two large research-intensive universities. Open-ended clicker questions, where students click directly on diagrams using their smart device (e.g., cell phone, tablet) to respond, probed students’ predictions about: (1) groundwater movement and (2) velocity and erosion in a river channel. Approximately one-third of students correctly identified groundwater flow as having lateral and vertical components; however, the same number of students identified only vertical components to flow despite the diagram depicting enough topographic gradient for lateral flow. For rivers depicted as having a straight channel, students correctly identified zones of high velocity. However, for curved river channels, students incorrectly identified the inside of the bend as the location of greatest erosion and highest velocity. Systematic errors suggest that students have mental models of water flow that are not consistent with fluid dynamics. The use of students’ open-ended clicks to reveal common errors provided an efficient tool to identify conceptual challenges associated with the complex spatial and temporal processes that govern water movement in the Earth system. View Full-Text
Keywords: undergraduate students; water literacy; conceptions; diagrams; formative assessment; spatial reasoning; geoscience education undergraduate students; water literacy; conceptions; diagrams; formative assessment; spatial reasoning; geoscience education
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MDPI and ACS Style

LaDue, N.D.; Ackerman, J.R.; Blaum, D.; Shipley, T.F. Assessing Water Literacy: Undergraduate Student Conceptions of Groundwater and Surface Water Flow. Water 2021, 13, 622. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050622

AMA Style

LaDue ND, Ackerman JR, Blaum D, Shipley TF. Assessing Water Literacy: Undergraduate Student Conceptions of Groundwater and Surface Water Flow. Water. 2021; 13(5):622. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050622

Chicago/Turabian Style

LaDue, Nicole D.; Ackerman, Jessica R.; Blaum, Dylan; Shipley, Thomas F. 2021. "Assessing Water Literacy: Undergraduate Student Conceptions of Groundwater and Surface Water Flow" Water 13, no. 5: 622. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050622

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