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  1. The lack of community-relevant flood informational resources and tools often results in inadequate and divergent understandings of flood risk and can impede communities' ability to function cohesively in the face of increasing flood threats. The current study reports on a set of workshops that the authors conducted with various groups (citizens, city engineers and planners, realtors and builders, and media representatives) within a flood prone community to evaluate how novel hydroinformatic tools that include hydrodynamic modeling, geospatial visualization, and socioeconomic analysis can enhance understanding of flood risk and engagement in flood risk mitigation among diverse community members. The workshops were designed to help identify stakeholder preferences regarding key functionality needed for integrated hydroinformatic technologies and socioeconomic analyses for flood risk reduction. Workshop participants were asked to use and comment on examples of prototype flood risk informational tools, such as: (1) flood damage estimation tool, (2) drivability and emergency accessibility tool, and (3) community-scale social and economic metrics tool. Data gathered from workshops were analyzed using qualitative analysis based on a grounded-theory approach. Data were coded by hand based on themes identified by the research team and incorporated deviant case analysis to ensure minority opinions was represented. The study results are focused on the following main themes and how flood tools can address them: (1) improving the understanding of flood risk and engagement in flood risk mitigation, (2) reducing the gap between individual and community risk, (3) challenges in communicating flood risk information, (4) enhancing relevance to and engagement of the community, and (5) enabling actionable information. Our research demonstrates the need for community-anchored tools and technologies that can illustrate local context, include local historical and simulated events at multiple levels of community impact, enable analyses by flood professionals while also providing simplified tools of use by citizens, and allow individuals to expand their knowledge beyond their homes, businesses, and places of work. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 17, 2024
  2. The need to adapt quickly to online or remote instruction has been a challenge for instructors during the COVID pandemic. A common issue instructors face is finding high-quality curricular materials that can enhance student learning by engaging them in solving complex, real-world problems. The current study evaluates a set of 15 web-based learning modules that promote the use of authentic, high-cognitive demand tasks. The modules were developed collaboratively by a group of instructors during a HydroLearn hackathon-workshop program. The modules cover various topics in hydrology and water resources, including physical hydrology, hydraulics, climate change, groundwater flow and quality, fluid mechanics, open channel flow, remote sensing, frequency analysis, data science, and evapotranspiration. The study evaluates the impact of the modules on students’ learning in terms of two primary aspects: understanding of fundamental concepts and improving technical skills. The study uses a practical instrument to measure students’ perceived changes in concepts and technical skills known as the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey. The survey was used at two-time points in this study: before the students participated in the module (pre) and at the conclusion of the module (post). The surveys were modified to capture the concepts and skills aligned with the learning objectives of each module. We calculated the learning gains by examining differences in students’ self-reported understanding of concepts and skills from pre- to post-implementation on the SALG using paired samples t -tests. The majority of the findings were statistically at the 0.05 level and practically significant. As measured by effect size, practical significance is a means for identifying the strength of the conclusions about a group of differences or the relationship between variables in a study. The average effect size in educational research is d = 0.4. The effect sizes from this study [0.45, 1.54] suggest that the modules play an important role in supporting students’ gains in conceptual understanding and technical skills. The evidence from this study suggests that these learning modules can be a promising way to deliver complex subjects to students in a timely and effective manner. 
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  3. Many communities across the USA and globally lack full understanding of the flood risk that may adversely impact them. This information deficit can lead to increased risk of flooding and a lack of engagement in mitigation efforts. Climatic changes, development, and other factors have expedited changes to flood risk. Due to these changes, communities will have an increased need to communicate with a variety of stakeholders about flood risk and mitigation. Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, USA, having recently experienced a major flood event (the 2016 Louisiana Floods), is representative of other communities experiencing changes to flood impacts. Using focus groups, this study delves into better understanding the disconnect between individual and community perceptions of flood risks, and how emerging hydroinformatics tools can bridge these gaps. Using qualitative analysis, this study evaluated the resources individuals use to learn about flooding, how definitions of community impact flood mitigation efforts, how individuals define flooding and its causes, and where gaps in knowledge exist about flood mitigation efforts. This research demonstrates that individuals conceive of flooding in relationship to themselves and their immediate circle first. The study revealed division within the community in how individuals think about the causes of flooding and the potential solutions for reducing flood risk. Based on these results, we argue that helping individuals reconceive how they think about flooding may help them better appreciate the flood mitigation efforts needed at individual, community, and regional levels. Additionally, we suggest that reducing gaps in knowledge about mitigation strategies and broadening how individuals conceive of their community may deepen their understanding of flood impacts and what their community can do to address potential challenges. 
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  4. The creation of high-quality curricular materials requires knowledge of curriculum design and a considerable time commitment. Instructors often have limited time to dedicate to the creation of curricular materials. Additionally, the knowledge and skills needed to develop high-quality materials are often not taught to instructors. Furthermore, similar learning material is often prepared by multiple instructors working at separate institutions, leading to unnecessary duplication of effort and inefficiency that can impact quality. To address these problems, we established the HydroLearn platform and associated professional learning experiences for hydrology and water resources instructors. HydroLearn is an online platform for developing and sharing high-quality curricular materials, or learning modules, focused on hydrology and water resources. The HydroLearn team has worked with three cohorts of instructors from around the world who were dedicated to creating high-quality curricular materials to support both their students and the broader community. In order to overcome some of the aforementioned barriers, we tested and revised several different models of professional learning with these cohorts. These models ranged from (a) instructors working individually with periodic guidance from the HydroLearn team, to (b) small groups of instructors collaborating on topics of shared interests guided through an intensive HydroLearn training workshop. We found the following factors to contribute to the success of instructors in creating modules: (1) instructor pairs co-creating modules enhanced the usability and transferability of modules between universities and courses, (2) dedicating an intensive block of time (∼63 h over 9 days) to both learning about and implementing curriculum design principles, (3) implementing structures for continuous feedback throughout that time, (4) designing modules for use in one’s own course, and (5) instituting a peer-review process to refine modules. A comprehensive set of learning modules were produced covering a wide range of topics that target undergraduate and early graduate students, such as: floodplain analysis, hydrologic droughts, remote sensing applications in hydrology, urbanization and stormwater runoff, evapotranspiration, snow and climate, groundwater flow, saltwater intrusion in coastal regions, and stream solute tracers. We share specifics regarding how we structured the professional learning models, as well as lessons learned and challenges faced. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Engineering students need to spend time engaging in mathematical modeling tasks to reinforce their learning of mathematics through its application to authentic problems and real world design situations. Technological tools and resources can support this kind of learning engagement. We produced an online module that develops students’ mathematical modeling skills while developing knowledge of the fundamentals of rainfall-runoff processes and engineering design. This study examined how 251 students at two United States universities perceived mathematical modeling as implemented through the online module over a 5-year period. We found, subject to the limitation that these are perceptions from not all students, that: (a) the module allowed students to be a part of the modeling process; (b) using technology, such as modeling software and online databases, in the module helped students to understand what they were doing in mathematical modeling; (c) using the technology in the module helped students to develop their skill set; and (d) difficulties with the technology and/or the modeling decisions they had to make in the module activities were in some cases barriers that interfered with students’ ability to learn. We advocate for instructors to create modules that: (a) are situated within a real-world context, requiring students to model mathematically to solve an authentic problem; (b) take advantage of digital tools used by engineers to support students’ development of the mathematical and engineering skills needed in the workforce; and (c) use student feedback to guide module revisions. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Engineering graduates need a deep understanding of key concepts in addition to technical skills to be successful in the workforce. However, traditional methods of instruction (e.g., lecture) do not foster deep conceptual understanding and make it challenging for students to learn the technical skills, (e.g., professional modeling software), that they need to know. This study builds on prior work to assess engineering students’ conceptual and procedural knowledge. The results provide an insight into how the use of authentic online learning modules influence engineering students’ conceptual knowledge and procedural skills. We designed online active learning modules to support and deepen undergraduate students’ understanding of key concepts in hydrology and water resources engineering (e.g., watershed delineation, rainfall-runoff processes, design storms), as well as their technical skills (e.g., obtaining and interpreting relevant information for a watershed, proficiency using HEC-HMS and HEC-RAS modeling tools). These modules integrated instructional content, real data, and modeling resources to support students’ solving of complex, authentic problems. The purpose of our study was to examine changes in students’ self-reported understanding of concepts and skills after completing these modules. The participants in this study were 32 undergraduate students at a southern U.S. university in a civil engineering senior design course who were assigned four of these active learning modules over the course of one semester to be completed outside of class time. Participants completed the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey immediately before starting the first module (time 1) and after completing the last module (time 2). The SALG is a modifiable survey meant to be specific to the learning tasks that are the focus of instruction. We created versions of the SALG for each module, which asked students to self-report their understanding of concepts and ability to implement skills that are the focus of each module. We calculated learning gains by examining differences in students’ self-reported understanding of concepts and skills from time 1 to time 2. Responses were analyzed using eight paired samples t-tests (two for each module used, concepts and skills). The analyses suggested that students reported gains in both conceptual knowledge and procedural skills. The data also indicated that the students’ self-reported gain in skills was greater than their gain in concepts. This study provides support for enhancing student learning in undergraduate hydrology and water resources engineering courses by connecting conceptual knowledge and procedural skills to complex, real-world problems. 
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  7. Soil moisture (SM) plays a significant role in determining the probability of flooding in a given area. Currently, SM is most commonly modeled using physically-based numerical hydrologic models. Modeling the natural processes that take place in the soil is difficult and requires assumptions. Besides, hydrologic model runtime is highly impacted by the extent and resolution of the study domain. In this study, we propose a data-driven modeling approach using Deep Learning (DL) models. There are different types of DL algorithms that serve different purposes. For example, the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) algorithm is well suited for capturing and learning spatial patterns, while the Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) algorithm is designed to utilize time-series information and to learn from past observations. A DL algorithm that combines the capabilities of CNN and LSTM called ConvLSTM was recently developed. In this study, we investigate the applicability of the ConvLSTM algorithm in predicting SM in a study area located in south Louisiana in the United States. This study reveals that ConvLSTM significantly outperformed CNN in predicting SM. We tested the performance of ConvLSTM based models by using a combination of different sets of predictors and different LSTM sequence lengths. The study results show that ConvLSTM models can predict SM with a mean areal Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) of 2.5% and mean areal correlation coefficients of 0.9 for our study area. ConvLSTM models can also provide predictions between discrete SM observations, making them potentially useful for applications such as filling observational gaps between satellite overpasses. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    This article presents an online teaching tool that introduces students to basic concepts of remote sensing and its applications in hydrology. The learning module is intended for junior/senior undergraduate students or junior graduate students with no (or little) prior experience in remote sensing, but with some basic background of environmental science, hydrology, statistics, and programming. This e-learning environment offers background content on the fundamentals of remote sensing, but also integrates a set of existing online tools for visualization and analysis of satellite observations. Specifically, students are introduced to a variety of satellite products and techniques that can be used to monitor and analyze changes in the hydrological cycle. At completion of the module, students are able to visualize remote sensing data (both in terms of time series and spatial maps), detect temporal trends, interpret satellite images, and assess errors and uncertainties in a remote sensing product. Students are given the opportunity to check their understanding as they progress through the module and also tackle complex real-life problems using remote sensing observations that professionals and scientists commonly use in practice. The learning tool is implemented in HydroLearn, an open-source, online platform for instructors to find and share learning modules and collaborate on developing teaching resources in hydrology and water resources. 
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  9. This article describes the design, development, and evaluation of an undergraduate learning module that builds students’ skills on how data analysis and numerical modeling can be used to analyze and design water resources engineering projects. The module follows a project-based approach by using a hydrologic restoration project in a coastal basin in south Louisiana, USA. The module has two main phases, a feasibility analysis phase and a hydraulic design phase, and follows an active learning approach where students perform a set of quantitative learning activities that involve extensive data and modeling analyses. The module is designed using open resources, including online datasets, hydraulic simulation models and geographical information system software that are typically used by the engineering industry and research communities. Upon completing the module, students develop skills that involve model formulation, parameter calibration, sensitivity analysis, and the use of data and models to assess and design a hydrologic a proposed hydrologic engineering project. Guided by design-based research framework, the implementation and evaluation of the module focused primarily on assessing students’ perceptions of the module usability and its design attributes, their perceived contribution of the module to their learning, and their overall receptiveness of the module and how it impacts their interest in the subject and future careers. Following an improvement-focused evaluation approach, design attributes that were found most critical to students included the use of user-support resources and self-checking mechanisms. These aspects were identified as key features that facilitate students’ self-learning and independent completion of tasks, while still enriching their learning experiences when using data and modeling-rich applications. Evaluation data showed that the following attributes contributed the most to students’ learning and potential value for future careers: application of modern engineering data analysis; use of real-world hydrologic datasets; and appreciation of uncertainties and challenges imposed by data scarcity. The evaluation results were used to formulate a set of guiding principles on how to design effective and conducive undergraduate learning experiences that adopt technology-enhanced and data and modeling- based strategies, on how to enhance users’ experiences with free and open-source engineering analysis tools, and on how to strike a pedagogical balance between module complexity, student engagement, and flexibility to fit within existing curricula limitations. 
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