Category Archives: Research

New publication on middle-school students’ modeling groundwater

Check out the newest Forbes Group publication in the Journal of Geoscience Education, led by masters student Holly White, which reports findings from a study of 7th-grade students use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to investigate groundwater. The study focuses on how students map elements of the HGC onto real-world, groundwater-related phenomena to reason about groundwater flow in the context of a groundwater contamination scenario. This research, undertaken as part of the WELS2 project, was made possible by a partnership with the Groundwater Foundation and teachers participating in a multi-year teacher professional development program focused on water education.

White, H., Lally, D., Forbes, C.T. (in press).  Investigating groundwater: Middle school students’ mapping data-driven, computer-based models to socio-hydrologic phenomena. Journal of Geoscience Education.

Holly White, M.S.

Congratulations to Holly White for successfully defending her thesis, entitled, “GROUNDWATER EDUCATION: AN INVESTIGATION OF STUDENTS’ USE OF A GROUNDWATER MODELING TOOL”.  For the past two years, Holly has worked as a graduate assistant as part of the Forbes Group, conducting research on K-12 and undergraduate students’ use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to reason about groundwater, as well as serving as a teaching assistant for the SCIL 109 course. Prior to that, Holly was a student in the 109 course and UCARE undergraduate researcher with the E2FEW project.   It has been a pleasure to work with Holly as both project PI and her advisor. Molly’s thesis study was conducted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science in UNL School of Natural Resources.  Her committee members included Drs. Dave Gosselin and Trenton Franz.

USDA-NIFA funding to support SCIL 109

New funding from a USDA-NIFA C1 Higher Education Challenge grant (grant no. 2020-70003-30928/project accession no. 1021842) will provide continued support for the WELL project, SCIL 109, and our team’s work in undergraduate education. Over the next 3 years, in collaboration with a team from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette led by Emad Habib, we will develop, implement, and evaluate a new undergraduate curriculum module grounded in an innovative, online, data-driven tool – HydroViz – through which undergraduate students use national water datasets to explore, explain, reason, and make decisions about contemporary socio-hydrological challenges in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). The pilot-tested, research-based instructional module will then be disseminated to undergraduate instructors nationwide (Year 3) in the form of faculty development workshops, designed around core tenets of effective undergraduate STEM instruction, to support their implementation of these new resources in their own undergraduate courses. The new USDA-NIFA funding reflects the next phase of our ongoing work supporting undergraduate students socio-hydrologic reasoning through the use of data-driven, computer-based water systems modeling tools as a core feature of the SCIL 109 course. Check out the SNR media release about the new project!

Diane Lally, Ph.D.

Congratulations to Dr. Diane Lally for successfully defending her dissertation, entitled, “GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION RESEARCH: TRENDS AND APPLICATIONS IN UNDERGRADUATE COURSES“.  For the past five years, Diane has worked as a graduate assistant as part of the Forbes Group, conducting research on undergraduate students’ model-based reasoning and systems thinking about water systems, as well as serving as a teaching assistant for the SCIL 109 course, all part of the WELL project. Diane’s studies, all published, collectively contribute to undergraduate geoscience education about sociohydrologic systems. It has been a pleasure to work with Diane as both project PI and her advisor. Diane’s dissertation was conducted in partial fulfillment of Ph.D. requirements in UNL School of Natural Resources.  Her committee members included Drs. Jenny Dauer, Trenton Franz, and Christine Cutucache.

CliMES project media and publication

The NSF-funded CliMES project was featured last week on NET, Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations. The story provides an overview of the project, how it came about in Nebraska, and how the CliMES curriculum looks in the classrooms we’ve been working in. Many thanks to NET reporter Becca Costello for taking an interest in this project and pursuing a story that reflects perspectives of project teachers and the many stakeholders who have been involved. To learn more about the research-practitioner partnership that has made this project possible, involving UNL, NASA-GISS, and Lincoln Public Schools, please check out Chap. 3 of the recently released edited book, entitled Teaching Climate Change in the United States.

Forbes, C.T., Chandler, M., Blake, J., Bhattacharya, D., Carroll-Steward, K., Johnson, V., DeGrand, T., Mason, W., and Murrow, B. (2020).  Fostering climate literacy with global climate models in secondary science classrooms: Insights from a collaborative partnership.  In J. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds.), Teaching Climate Change in the United States. Routledge; New York.

2019 publications from German collaboration, modeling in elementary science

Over the past 7 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert, a colleague from Germany, on work related to models and modeling in elementary science classrooms. Springboarding, in part, from our earlier work on the MoHSES project, as well as a CEHS international travel fellowship awarded to former graduate student and now Assistant Professor Tina Vo, this ongoing collaboration yielded two more publications in 2019. The first is a practitioner-focused article in a German publication discussing the importance and role of models and modeling in the early grades. The second is a reporting of some smaller-scale work with students in Germany and articulation/elaboration of our underlying conceptual framework for model-based teaching and learning. We look forward to continuing this collaborative endeavor and important work yet to come.

Forbes, C.T., Lange-Schubert, K., Böschl, F., & Vo, T. (2019). Supporting primary students’ developing modeling competency for water systems.  In A. Upmeier zu Belzen, D. Krüger, & J. van Driel (Eds.), Towards a Competence-based View on Models and Modeling in Science Education (pgs. 257-273). Springer. 

Lange-Schubert, K., Böschl, F., Vo, T., & Forbes, C.T. (2019). Mehr als Matchbox?! Modelle und Modellieren in der Grundschule [More than Matchbox?! Models and modeling in elementary school]. Chemie, 30(171), 33-37.

UnICORN project publications

For the last four years, the UnICORN project has afforded an opportunity to enhance and engage in research on teaching and learning about inheritance in elementary science through curriculum development and professional development for teachers. Through the implementation of a model-based curriculum, early learners in Nebraska have been afforded opportunities to use corn as a model organism to develop understanding of basic concepts of heredity and genetics using corn as a model organism. Two papers were recently published based upon this work which describe students’ understanding of core, NGSS-aligned target concepts and the relative impact of the curriculum on target outcomes in consecutive project years.

Cisterna, D., Forbes, C.T., & Roy, R. (2019).  Model-based teaching and learning about inheritance in 3rd-grade science. In International Journal of Science Education, 41(15), 2177-2199.

Forbes, C.T., Cisterna, D., Bhattacharya, D., & Roy, R. (2019).  Modeling elementary students’ ideas about heredity: A comparison of a curricular intervention. In American Biology Teacher, 81(9), 626-635.

Invited talk, CUAHSI Fall Cyberseminar Series: Emerging Advances in Hydrologic Education

In October, I had the opportunity to give an invited talk as part of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI) Fall, 2019 Cyberseminar Series: Emerging Advances in Hydrologic Education. This presentation – Teaching and Learning about Socio-Hydrological Systems in an Introductory Undergraduate Water Course – provided an overview of empirical findings from WELL project research in the SCIL 109 course over the past 3 years. The seminar provided a great opportunity to engage with water scientists interested in teaching and learning about water and water systems. Many thanks to Dr. Emad Habib, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, for the invitation, and to attendees for the great questions and discussion.

ESERA 2019

In August, the I was fortunate to attend the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Educational Research Association (ESERA), held in Bologna, Italy. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to be part of a PISA-focused session, organized by Jonathan Osborne, to present results of work associated with my Fulbright in Germany. It was also great to see doctoral student Florian Böschl, who works with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert at the University of Leipzig, present work from his summer in Nebraska (2018) as part of our ongoing collaborative research on modeling in elementary science classrooms. ESERA was a truly fantastic way to cap off a year of travel and professional work in Germany.

Böschl, F., Lange-Schubert, K., & Forbes, C. T. (2019, August). Investigating scientific modeling practices in primary science: A comparative study of the U.S. and Germany. Paper presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) 2019, Bologna, Italy.

Forbes, C.T., Neumann, K., Schipe-Tiska, A. (2019, August). Science teaching and learning: Analysis of PISA data from the United States and Germany.  Paper presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) 2019, Bologna, Italy.


New publication on undergraduate students’ model-based reasoning about water systems

Congrats to current doctoral student Diane Lally on publication of WELL project research from the SCIL 109 course. In this study, Diane investigated undergraduate students’ use and evaluation of a data-driven, computer-based modeling tools developed by Co-PI, course co-instructor, and SNR colleague Trenton Franz. The study, which compares student outcomes over the 1st and 2nd year of the course, also provides evidence for the impact of ongoing course refinement we have been engaged in over time as part of the project. The study adds to a growing number of publications from our project work with the 109 course, as well as broader efforts within my research group focused on model-based teaching and learning. It’s great to have empirical evidence in support of our team’s hard work on the 109 course over the last 3 years and kudos to Diane for her significant contributions to this work!

Lally, D. & Forbes, C.T. (2019).  Modeling water systems in an introductory undergraduate course: Students’ use and evaluation of data-driven, computer-based modelsInternational Journal of Science Education, 41(14), 1999-2023.