Active Learning Examples: Collaborative Experiences | On Effective Instruction

Active Learning Examples: Collaborative Experiences

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Name of Activity: WPCC Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE): Water quality of Johns River watershed and the effect on mussel populations


Jessica Howells



Science Courses

Description of Activity:

We are working with TR Russ, NC Nongame Fisheries Biologist, to investigate the effect of water quality, particularly nutrient concentrations, on a population of threatened mussels, the brook floater (Alasmidonta varicose), in Wilsons Creek, Mulberry Creek, and the Johns River. We will be collaborating with Drs. Shea Tuberty and Mike Gangloff of Appalachian State University to conduct this research.


Procedure for Activity

We will be sampling Priority 1 sites in the Johns River watershed as identified by TR Russ, and will analyze water samples for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity, nitrates and nitrites, and phosphates. We may also look at macroinvertebrate populations at the sample sites. Sampling will be conducted over the spring and summer of 2018.


Result of Activity

Students will analyze water quality data to determine whether nutrient levels or other factors may be affecting the water quality of Mulberry Creek, Wilson Creek, and/or the Johns River. My goal is for students to present their findings at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium ( in November 2018.


General Thoughts of Activity

I want to engage students in scientific research so that they are involved in the process of science. This helps further critical thinking and problem solving skills and enhances learning in the fast-paced and growing fields of biology and scientific inquiry. I think that being engaged in research helps align science education for our community college students with the Vision and Change Call to Action for undergraduate biological education published in 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement in Science, the National Science Foundation, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (

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