Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Centralized water and wastewater systems are commonly used in urban areas and population centers in the United States and many other developed countries. In both developed and developing countries, however, centralized systems are not always cost- effective or sustainable due to factors such as low-density development, rugged topography, limited water and energy supplies, lack of skilled labor, or cultural constraints. During the past decade, our university has offered a senior undergraduate/graduate-level course that focuses on onsite water reclamation covering the selection, design, and implementation of onsite and decentralized treatment systems. A major element used to assess student learning involves a culminating project that asks students to synthesize course knowledge by critically reviewing an onsite water or wastewater reclamation or reuse technology, identifying lessons learned from an onsite case study, or designing an onsite treatment system for a specific application. The course project is designed to be an open-ended assignment completed by groups consisting of one to five students. During course deliveries in 2014 and before, non-technical project considerations focused on regulatory requirements and project owner needs; students were not specifically encouraged to incorporate other non-technical issues encompassing socio-economic, political and cultural considerations into their projects. In 2016 and 2017, a different course instructor integrated socio-economic and cultural considerations, through course content focused on onsite water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) efforts in developing countries, as a major course theme based on student and faculty interest. Such non- technical considerations were also integrated into the report grading rubric in 2016 and 2017. To assess whether students valued the integration of non-technical considerations, 22 student projects spanning a period of four academic semesters between 2014 and 2017 were analyzed using two approaches: (1) projects were analyzed for the degree of integration of non-technical considerations; and (2) projects were subjected to term frequency mining and term frequency-inverse document frequency (tf-idf) analyses. Results suggest that the integration of socio-economic and cultural considerations into the course project increased in 2016 and 2017; five of twelve student teams in 2014 and eight of ten student teams in 2016 and 2017 integrated non-technical considerations in their analysis to some extent. Analysis concerning the integration of non-technical considerations based on gender demographics and graduate standing identified no significant trends. Term frequency analysis and tf-idf showed that key terms in the “social” and “energy” categories were used significantly more in post-intervention course projects, while use of technical terms did not change. Increasing emphasis and content of nontechnical concepts through integration of WaSH principles appears to have enhanced student consideration of these concepts while maintaining technical content.
Pfluger, A. R., & Munakata Marr, J., & Vanzin, G., & Siegrist, R. L. (2018, June), Learning Benefits of Integrating Socioeconomic and Cultural Considerations into an Onsite Water Reclamation Course Project Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30753
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