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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: [email protected].
    • 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
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Water
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References & Citations

1. Clary J, Jones J, Urbonas B, Quigley M, Strecker E, Wagner T 2008 Can stormwater BMPs remove bacteria? Stormwater Available from: http://www.stormh20.com/may-2008/bacterial-research-bmps.aspx
2. Felzien L, Salem L 2008 Development and assessment of service-learning projects in general biology Bioscene 34 6 12
3. Haines S 2003 Incorporating service-learning components into biology education Journal of College Science Teaching 32 440 442
4. Haines S 2010 Environmental education and service-learning in the tropics: making global connections J Coll Sci Teaching 39 16 23
5. Leege L, Cawthorn M 2008 Environmental service-learning: relevant, rewarding, and responsible J Coll Sci Teaching 36 32 36
6. Seymour E, Wiese D, Hunter A, Daffinrud S 2000 Creating a better mousetrap: On-line student assessment of their learning gains Paper presented at: National Meeting of the American Chemical Society March 2000 San Francisco, CA Available from: http://www.sencer.net/Assessment/pdfs/Assessment/Creating_a_Better_Mousetrap.pdf
7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2006 Method 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
2019-07-16

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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