Source: UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Apr 1, 2020
Project End Date
Mar 31, 2023
Grant Year
Project Director
Forbes, C.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
School of Natural Resources
Non Technical Summary
The project will support the development, implementation, and evaluation (Years 1-2) of a new postsecondary curriculum module grounded in an innovative, online, data-driven tool - HydroLearn - through which undergraduate students use national water datasets to explore, explain, reason, and make decisions about contemporary socio-hydrological challenges in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). The pilot-tested, research-based instructional module will then be disseminated to 50 FANH science faculty members nationwide (Year 3) in the form of faculty development workshops, designed around core tenets of effective undergraduate STEM instruction, to support their implementation of these new resources in their own undergraduate courses. The goals of the project, which will be rigorously evaluated through discipline-based education research, are to enhance a) students' reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making about socio-hydrological systems through the use of data-driven water systems modeling tools and b) capacity of FANH faculty members to implement data-driven water systems modeling tools to support students reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making about socio-hydrological systems in undergraduate FANH courses. The proposed project leverages prior Federal investments in FEW-Nexus educational innovation, is directly aligned with USDA-NIFA's HEC Grants Program goals, and is grounded in state, national, and international STEM/FANH science education reform efforts. The project will impact undergraduate students across the United States, provide integrated, multidisciplinary, learner-centered instruction in the FEW-Nexus with an emphasis on socio-hydrological challenges, and will contribute to growth of a self-sustaining community of practice for instructional innovation through the HydroLearn platform and National Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Table 1: Project SMART GoalsObjectivesMeasureable Impacts#1Enhance students' reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making about socio-hydrological systems through the use of data-driven water systems modeling toolsStatistically-significant increase in students' socio-hydrological reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making about SHIs#2Enhance capacity of FANH faculty members to implement data-driven water systems modeling tools in undergraduate FANH science coursesProvide training to 50 FANH faculty members who will implement the module in their undergraduate FANH science courses25% increase in FANH faculty members' knowledge and self-efficacy for teaching about SHIs
Project Methods
We utilize construct-centered design (CCD, Shin et al., 2010) to develop the course module. CCD is based upon empirically-tested heuristics for the development of curriculum aimed at pre-defined learning outcomes for students (Krajcik, McNeill, & Reiser, 2007) and involves 4 steps. Our faculty development strategy will focus on three key sources of growth for faculty: workshops and teaching resources, a system of faculty peers, and investigating data from their own classrooms. The goal of these faculty workshops will be three-fold: 1) to support use of the HydroLearn-based course module, 2) learning about data-driven educational tools and SHIs, and 3) implementation of active learning strategies that enhance student learning. The workshops will be designed around evidence-based teaching practices, specifically: scientific teaching and backwards design, assessment strategies, active learning strategies for large classrooms, peer learning communities, and theories about learning (Ambrose et al. 2010; Handelsman et al 2004; Talbot et al. 2015). They will also foreground effective features of STEM faculty development, including integrated support for content and pedagogy, grounding in curriculum and resources, and low-stakes professional environment in which participation is voluntary (Derting et al., 2016).The project team will employ a variety of evaluation components to ensure both formative and summative evaluation of project activities and progress toward goals in Table 1. To inform formative evaluation throughout the project period, we will actively solicit feedback on project activities through the use of anonymous evaluation forms, comment cards, and focus group interviews with individual students and faculty. We have also assembled an advisory board comprised of individuals with expertise related to the project. Summative evaluation involves classroom-based educational research to address project objectives. These procedures will be approved by the UNL Institutional Review Board to ensure participants are not placed at undue risk, that they give informed consent to their participation, and that their rights and welfare are protected throughout the project.

Progress 04/01/20 to 03/31/21

Target Audience:150+ undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Goal #1: Subsequent to the spring, 2021 semester, we will analyze data currently being collected to fully assess student outcomes related to this first iteration and implementation of the HydroViz-based module. Based upon these results, we anticipate refining and improving the course module for a second implementation. Goal #2: N/A this goal will be addressed in a later stage of the project, as described in the original project proposal

What was accomplished under these goals? Goal #1: In project Year 1, we have worked with our UL-Lafayette partner to fully develop the HydroViz-based undergraduate course module, which we are implementing in the 109 class in the spring, 2021 semester for the first time. This involved a) developing the learning activities in which students would engage and b) integrating existing USDA data into the HydroViz interface. We are currently collecting course-based data that will enable us to provide measures of impact as specified in Goal #1. These include pre-/post-course assessments of water-related content knowledge and socio-hydrologic reasoning and decision-making. Goal #2: N/A this goal will be addressed in a later stage of the project, as described in the original project proposal