10 Oct 2022
10 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

How you teach changes who you reach: understanding the effect of teaching modality on student engagement, content interest, and learning in undergraduate hydrology

Christine Georgakakos1,2 and James Knighton1 Christine Georgakakos and James Knighton
  • 1Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 06268, USA
  • 2US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Abstract. There is a growing consensus that hydrology education should move towards student-led learning formats and simultaneously incorporate recent hydrologic technologies that reflect workforce expectations. There is a strong theoretical basis that supports an anticipation of improvements in learning outcomes from these shifts in teaching style; however, little empirical evidence has been collected to confirm this success. We measured the classroom impact of shifting between three teaching modalities: 1) instructor-led lectures, 2) student-led hydrologic modeling with the EPA Storm Water Management Model, and 3) student-led design evaluation studios of stormwater best management practices. Educational outcomes were measured with student surveys, direct observation of class activity, and student grades. In aggregate, the student population did not express a significant preference for one modality over another, yet individual students showed dramatic preferences for each modality. The total frequency of interactions between students and the instructor were similar across all three modalities; however, the frequency of student-initiated engagements (both total and unique engagements) significantly increased in both student-led modalities. Variations in student enthusiasm did not correlate with written assessment scores, possibly suggesting that alternating modalities improves interest in hydrologic science and increases perceptions of a positive classroom experience, without changing retention of hydrologic concepts. Our results suggest that multiple teaching modalities should be employed to engage the greatest number of students and generate enthusiasm for hydrology.

Christine Georgakakos and James Knighton

Status: open (until 05 Dec 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-967', Wouter Knoben, 14 Oct 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-967', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Nov 2022 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-967', Anonymous Referee #3, 20 Nov 2022 reply

Christine Georgakakos and James Knighton

Data sets

TAR Survey and Responses: Teaching modality influence on student outcomes Christine Georgakakos & James Knighton

Christine Georgakakos and James Knighton


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Short summary
With growing water concerns due to changing climates and contamination, we need we inspire and prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s hydrologists. We found student engagement and enthusiasm increased with student-led modalities (modeling, design analysis) while concept retention did not change over the modalities. We also found, different students are most enthusiastic about different modes of learning, and multiple modes should be applied to reach the greatest number of students.