Integrating local research watersheds into hydrologic education: Lessons from the Dry Creek Experimental Watershed

Friday, 19 December 2014
James P McNamara, Pamella S Aishlin, Alejandro N Flores, Shawn G Benner, Hans-Peter Marshall and Jennifer L Pierce, Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States
While a proliferation of instrumented research watersheds and new data sharing technologies has transformed hydrologic research in recent decades, similar advances have not been realized in hydrologic education. Long-standing problems in hydrologic education include discontinuity of hydrologic topics from introductory to advanced courses, inconsistency of content across academic departments, and difficulties in development of laboratory and homework assignments utilizing large time series and spatial data sets. Hydrologic problems are typically not amenable to “back-of-the-chapter” examples. Local, long-term research watersheds offer solutions to these problems. Here, we describe our integration of research and monitoring programs in the Dry Creek Experimental Watershed into undergraduate and graduate hydrology programs at Boise State University. We developed a suite of watershed-based exercises into courses and curriculums using real, tangible datasets from the watershed to teach concepts not amenable to traditional textbook and lecture methods. The aggregation of exercises throughout a course or degree allows for scaffolding of concepts with progressive exposure of advanced concepts throughout a course or degree. The need for exercises of this type is growing as traditional lecture-based classes (passive learning from a local authoritative source) are being replaced with active learning courses that integrate many sources of information through situational factors.