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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 9 | Copyright

Special issue: Hydrology education in a changing world

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3263-3278, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 Sep 2012

Research article | 13 Sep 2012

Incorporating student-centered approaches into catchment hydrology teaching: a review and synthesis

S. E. Thompson1, I. Ngambeki2,5, P. A. Troch3, M. Sivapalan4, and D. Evangelou2 S. E. Thompson et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • 2School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
  • 3Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
  • 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA
  • 5Global Policy Research Institute and Department of Technology, Leadership, and Innovation, College of Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

Abstract. As hydrologists confront the future of water resources on a globalized, resource-scarce and human-impacted planet, the educational preparation of future generations of water scientists becomes increasingly important. Although hydrology inherits a tradition of teacher-centered direct instruction – based on lecture, reading and assignment formats – a growing body of knowledge derived from engineering education research suggests that modifications to these methods could firstly improve the quality of instruction from a student perspective, and secondly contribute to better professional preparation of hydrologists, in terms of their abilities to transfer knowledge to new contexts, to frame and solve novel problems, and to work collaboratively in uncertain environments. Here we review the theoretical background and empirical literature relating to adopting student-centered and inductive models of teaching and learning. Models of student-centered learning and their applications in engineering education are introduced by outlining the approaches used by several of the authors to introduce student-centered and inductive educational strategies into their university classrooms. Finally, the relative novelty of research on engineering instruction in general and hydrology in particular creates opportunities for new partnerships between education researchers and hydrologists to explore the discipline-specific needs of hydrology students and develop new approaches for instruction and professional preparation of hydrologists.

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