Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Cory Forbes

Date of this Version

Spring 5-2021


White, H. 2021. Groundwater Education: An Investigation of Students' Use of a Groundwater Modeling Tool. M.S. Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, USA.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Cory T. Forbes. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2021

Copyright (c) 2021 Holly White


Groundwater is a critical resource for life on Earth. However, our groundwater resources are at risk due to human activities, making this a topic of importance within K-12 and undergraduate environmental education. Yet, students hold alternative conceptions and may have limited awareness about groundwater systems. One way to support students’ learning is by incorporating computer-based modeling tools into classrooms. Here, we explore the use a groundwater modeling tool, the Hydrogeology Challenge (HGC), among two age groups of students: seventh grade students and undergraduate students. In the seventh-grade population, we investigated how students relate or map model components to their real-world phenomena. We found that students struggled with aspects of the model relating to natural components and processes of groundwater systems. In the undergraduate population, we explored how students think spatially about aspects of the groundwater model. We compared two semesters of students: 1 semester with no intervention, and 1 semester with a spatial thinking intervention. We found that the intervention helped students to think spatially in certain aspects, such as concepts of space. However, students in both years still struggled with other aspects of spatial thinking, such as tools of representation and reasoning. Overall, these studies have implications for teaching and learning about groundwater.

Adviser: Cory T. Forbes

Included in

Hydrology Commons