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Moving university hydrology education forward with geoinformatics, data and modeling approaches

Author(s): V. Merwade | B. L. Ruddell

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
ISSN 1812-2108

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 2601;
Date: 2012;
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In this opinion paper, we review recent literature related to data and modeling driven instruction in hydrology, and present our findings from surveying the hydrology education community in the United States. This paper presents an argument that that Data and Modeling Driven Geoscience Cybereducation (DMDGC) approaches are valuable for teaching the conceptual and applied aspects of hydrology, as a part of the broader effort to improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education at the university level. The authors have undertaken a series of surveys and a workshop involving the community of university hydrology educators to determine the state of the practice of DMDGC approaches to hydrology. We identify the most common tools and approaches currently utilized, quantify the extent of the adoption of DMDGC approaches in the university hydrology classroom, and explain the community's views on the challenges and barriers preventing DMDGC approaches from wider use. DMDGC approaches are currently emphasized at the graduate level of the curriculum, and only the most basic modeling and visualization tools are in widespread use. The community identifies the greatest barriers to greater adoption as a lack of access to easily adoptable curriculum materials and a lack of time and training to learn constantly changing tools and methods. The community's current consensus is that DMDGC approaches should emphasize conceptual learning, and should be used to complement rather than replace lecture-based pedagogies. Inadequate online material-publication and sharing systems, and a lack of incentives for faculty to develop and publish materials via such systems, is also identified as a challenge. Based on these findings, we suggest that a number of steps should be taken by the community to develop the potential of DMDGC in university hydrology education, including formal development and assessment of curriculum materials integrating lecture-format and DMDGC approaches, incentivizing the publication by faculty of excellent DMDGC curriculum materials, and implementing the publication and dissemination cyberinfrastructure necessary to support the unique DMDGC digital curriculum materials.
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