High-impact learning through field-based channel surveys of a coastal-plain river in Texas

Authors: Sterlin Shaffer*, , Megan Lee Tennill, Texas A&M University, Emerald Jane Starling, Texas A&M University, Dion Marcel Webster, Texas A&M University, Joseph Richard Rochfort Wade, Texas A&M University, Yair Ismael Torres, Texas A&M University, Victoria Ramos, Texas A&M University, Cesar Ricardo Castillo, Texas A&M University, Inci Guneralp, Texas A&M University
Topics: Geomorphology, Physical Geography, Geography Education
Keywords: Geomorphology, High-Impact Learning, Field Surveying, River
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Channel geometries are fundamental to analyses of riverine hydrology and geomorphology because the shape of the channel controls flow hydraulics and sediment transport capacities. Unfortunately, data for submerged portions of a channel are not always readily available. A common approach for collecting bathymetric data is through surveying with an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) and survey-grade global navigation satellite system (GNSS) equipment where channel cross-sections are generated by pulling the ADCP across the channel with ropes. While collecting ADCP data can be relatively straight-forward, it requires multiple personal in order to accomplish the surveying in a consistent and efficient manner. On the other hand, this type of surveying can also provide an excellent opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in research through a high-impact learning experience (HILE). The student(s) and mentor(s) involved both benefit from the HILE because the hands-on experiences in the field can serve to refine skills associated with project planning, critical-thinking, and problem-solving. Seven undergraduate students participated in an HILE where they produced and analyzed a series of channel geometries for portions of the relatively undisturbed Mission River on the Coastal Bend of Texas. Data products generated by the undergraduates are ultimately used to inform analyses of the hydrology and geomorphology of Mission River. Moreover, participation in the HILE increased a student’s understanding and appreciation of science, while also providing the mentor with valuable teaching experience outside of the classroom.

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