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Stream Water Quality and Service Learning in an Introductory Biology Class

    Author: Wendy L. Gorman1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Sciences, Northland College, Ashland, WI 54806
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 20 May 2010
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Environmental Sciences, Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin 54806. Phone: (715) 682-1322. Fax: (715) 682-1849. Email: wgorman@northland.edu.
    • Copyright © 2010 American Society for Microbiology
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2010 vol. 11 no. 1 21-27. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11.i1.140
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    Abstract:

    Northland College is a small environmental liberal arts college in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior. In the fall of 2007 and 2008 students in a mixed science majors/non-majors introductory biology course engaged in a semester-long, service-learning project to monitor in city stormwater draining into Bay City Creek, a small stream that flows through campus and the town of Ashland before flowing into Lake Superior. Such monitoring is beyond the budget of most municipalities, but is an important public health and aesthetic issue for Ashland and Lake Superior. Our hypothesis was that this service-learning research project would have a positive impact on student learning and student perception of science, and the project would generate useful information for city leaders. Students collected and processed water samples using a standard protocol, analyzed the effect of stormwater on stream water quality, and presented their data in the form of posters to the mayor, a city administrator, and the Provost. Student learning was assessed by a poster-grading rubric, and by online and Northland College instruments. Student perceptions of science were found to be more positive than in the year preceding this project, even when clear answers were not found from their scientific investigation, and there appeared to be no distinction in responses between science majors and non-majors.

Key Concept Ranking

Lake Water
0.47833636
Water
0.43777582
0.47833636

References & Citations

1. Clary J, Jones J, Urbonas B, Quigley M, Strecker E, Wagner T2008Can stormwater BMPs remove bacteria?StormwaterAvailable from: http://www.stormh20.com/may-2008/bacterial-research-bmps.aspx
2. Felzien L, Salem L2008Development and assessment of service-learning projects in general biologyBioscene34612
3. Haines S2003Incorporating service-learning components into biology educationJournal of College Science Teaching32440442
4. Haines S2010Environmental education and service-learning in the tropics: making global connectionsJ Coll Sci Teaching391623
5. Leege L, Cawthorn M2008Environmental service-learning: relevant, rewarding, and responsibleJ Coll Sci Teaching363236
6. Seymour E, Wiese D, Hunter A, Daffinrud S2000Creating a better mousetrap: On-line student assessment of their learning gainsPaper presented at: National Meeting of the American Chemical SocietyMarch 2000San Francisco, CAAvailable from: http://www.sencer.net/Assessment/pdfs/Assessment/Creating_a_Better_Mousetrap.pdf
7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)2006Method 1603: Escherichia coli (E. coli) in water by membrane filtration using modified membrane-thermotolerant Escherichia coli agar (modified mTEC)Available from: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/methods/method/biological/1603.pdf
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2010-05-20
2017-08-20

Abstract:

Northland College is a small environmental liberal arts college in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior. In the fall of 2007 and 2008 students in a mixed science majors/non-majors introductory biology course engaged in a semester-long, service-learning project to monitor in city stormwater draining into Bay City Creek, a small stream that flows through campus and the town of Ashland before flowing into Lake Superior. Such monitoring is beyond the budget of most municipalities, but is an important public health and aesthetic issue for Ashland and Lake Superior. Our hypothesis was that this service-learning research project would have a positive impact on student learning and student perception of science, and the project would generate useful information for city leaders. Students collected and processed water samples using a standard protocol, analyzed the effect of stormwater on stream water quality, and presented their data in the form of posters to the mayor, a city administrator, and the Provost. Student learning was assessed by a poster-grading rubric, and by online and Northland College instruments. Student perceptions of science were found to be more positive than in the year preceding this project, even when clear answers were not found from their scientific investigation, and there appeared to be no distinction in responses between science majors and non-majors.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Location of 4 sampling sites on Bay City Creek in relation to the outfall and the campus of Northland College. Site 1 is just upstream of the outfall, site 2 is at the confluence of the outfall and the stream, and sites 3 and 4 are downstream of the outfall.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2010 vol. 11 no. 1 21-27. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11.i1.140
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Means and standard errors of CFU/100 ml from all sampling times in 2007 and 2008 at each of 4 sites and a storm-water outfall along Bay City Creek. This figure was generated by the author but is an example of a student team-generated graph.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2010 vol. 11 no. 1 21-27. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11.i1.140
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Variation in E. coli levels (Log of CFU/100 ml) throughout the sampling season in 2007 (A) and 2008 (B) at 4 sites (solid lines) and a stormwater outfall (dotted line) along Bay City Creek. Data from the outfall show a discontinuous line due to lack of water flow and collection of a water sample on some sampling days. Precipitation (dashed line) that occurred within the previous 24 hours of sampling dates is included in the graph because rainfall is frequently a factor in fecal pollution and may show correlation with E. coli levels. This figure was generated by the author but is an example of a student team-generated graph.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2010 vol. 11 no. 1 21-27. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v11.i1.140
Download as Powerpoint

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