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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-618
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-618
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Education and communication 15 Jan 2019

Education and communication | 15 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Role-play simulations as an aid to achieve complex learning outcomes in hydrological science

Arvid Bring1,2 and Steve W. Lyon1,3 Arvid Bring and Steve W. Lyon
  • 1Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, SE-106 91, Sweden
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, SE-106 91, Sweden
  • 3The Nature Conservancy, Delmont, New Jersey, 08314, USA

Abstract. Students in hydrology are expected to become proficient in a set of quantitative skills, while also acquiring the ability to apply their problem-solving abilities in real-life situations. To achieve both these types of learning outcomes, there is broad evidence that activity-based learning is beneficial. In this paper, we argue that role-play simulations in particular are useful to achieve complex learning outcomes, i.e., making students able to coordinate and integrate various analytical skills in complicated settings. We evaluated the effects of an integrated water resources management (IWRM) negotiation simulation next to more traditional teaching methods intended to foster quantitative understanding. Results showed that despite similar student-reported achievement of both complex and quantitative intended learning outcomes, the students favored the negotiation simulation over the traditional method. This implies that role-play simulations can motivate and actively engage a classroom thereby creating a space for potential deeper learning and longer retention of knowledge. While our findings support the utility of simulations to teach complex learning outcomes and indicate no shortcoming in achieving such outcomes next to traditional methods aimed at quantitative learning outcomes, simulations are still not widely used to foster activity-based learning in the classroom. We thus conclude by presenting three particularly challenging areas of role-play simulations as learning tools that serve as potential barriers to their implementation and suggest ways to overcome such roadblocks.

Arvid Bring and Steve W. Lyon
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Status: open (until 12 Mar 2019)
Status: open (until 12 Mar 2019)
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Arvid Bring and Steve W. Lyon
Arvid Bring and Steve W. Lyon
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Short summary
Hydrology education strives to teach students both quantitative ability and complex professional skills. Our research shows that role-play simulations are useful to make students able to integrate various analytical skills in complicated settings, while not interfering with traditional teaching that fosters their ability to solve mathematical problems. Despite this, there are several potential challenging areas in using role-plays, and we therefore suggest ways around these potential roadblocks.
Hydrology education strives to teach students both quantitative ability and complex professional...
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