Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2159–2168, 2012

Special issue: Hydrology education in a changing world

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2159–2168, 2012

Research article 18 Jul 2012

Research article | 18 Jul 2012

Teaching hydrogeology: a review of current practice

T. Gleeson1, D. M. Allen2, and G. Ferguson3 T. Gleeson et al.
  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
  • 3Department of Civil and Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Abstract. Hydrogeology is now taught in a broad spectrum of departments and institutions to students with diverse backgrounds. Successful instruction in hydrogeology thus requires a variety of pedagogical approaches depending on desired learning outcomes and the background of students. We review the pedagogical literature in hydrogeology to highlight recent advances and analyze a 2005 survey among 68 hydrogeology instructors. The literature and survey results suggest there are only ~ 15 topics that are considered crucial by most hydrogeologists and > 100 other topics that are considered crucial by some hydrogeologists. The crucial topics focus on properties of aquifers and fundamentals of groundwater flow, and should likely be part of all undergraduate hydrogeology courses. Other topics can supplement and support these crucial topics, depending on desired learning outcomes. Classroom settings continue to provide a venue for emphasizing fundamental knowledge. However, recent pedagogical advances are biased towards field and laboratory instruction with a goal of bolstering experiential learning. Field methods build on the fundamentals taught in the classroom and emphasize the collection of data, data uncertainty, and the development of vocational skills. Laboratory and computer-based exercises similarly build on theory, and offer an opportunity for data analysis and integration. The literature suggests curricula at all levels should ideally balance field, laboratory, and classroom pedagogy into an iterative and integrative whole. An integrated, iterative and balanced approach leads to greater student motivation and advancement of theoretical and vocational knowledge.