Modelling of a hydrogeological basin through practical activities

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Supervisor: Dr.Conxita Márquez

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Modelling of a hydrogeological basin through practical activities is a doctoral research whose aim is to analyze the potentialities of a set of activities in which theory and practical work are studied together in the modelling of the components and processes of the hydrogeological basin dynamics, including the water cycle. The work with a dynamic model is the centre of the activities, which are related among them and are combined with plenaries, in small groups as well as with all the participants. Limitations are also studied and some improvements are proposed.

Three objectives have been defined. The first one aims to relate the model design characteristics with the hydrogeological basin components and processes that are modelled. The second one consists in identifying and analyzing the relationships between the domain of observables (hand-on) and the domain of ideas (mind on) through the modelling of the basin system and of other natural world referents. The third focuses on detecting the potentialities and limitations of these practical activities in the hydrogeological basin modelling, as well as on proposing some improvements.

To achieve the objectives, a qualitative case study research has been conducted, based on two groups of second of Batxillerat students from Institut Manuel Blancafort de la Garriga studied in two consecutive school years (2009/10 and 2010/11). The subject matter where the activities have been implemented is Science of the Earth and the Environment. The participants were eleven students in 2009/10, fourteen the next course, and a teacher, who is also the researcher.

The transcripts of the activities were obtained from video recordings and also from audio registers. They have been the basis of the analysis, and have been compared to the transcripts of another eighteen students of the 2011/12 school year. These ones have not been thoroughly analysed, but have been used to deepen in some aspects.

The first objective aims to relate the design with the natural referent that is modelled (the hydrogeological basin and the water cycle), trying to detect how the basin components and processes are represented and to analyze the influences of the original design decisions in this representation. Some of the participants’ proposals have been included. Proposals achieved after sharing ideas have allowed to introduce structural and functional changes to the activities and to discuss what is going to be done, promoting a deeper analysis of what is intended to represent and how it is represented.

To do the analysis associated to objective 2, an instrument has been designed that separates and also relates the domain of the observables and the domain of the ideas. The instrument has allowed to detect which conversations are centered on the design of the practical activities, the ones centered on the model and those which are related to other observables.

The results have allowed to detect when the modelling is carried on in relation to the underground water, from a natural and from an anthropogenic point of view, or in relation to evapotranspiration or the basin as a system. Both aspects being prortayed as the most difficult to model.

As for the third objective, the potentialities of the activities have been described based on Millar’s effectiveness (2010), but also in relation to overcoming the conceptualization of some aspects that the literature points out as difficult to understand. Limitations have also been pointed out and proposals for improvement added, some of which have already been implemented.

Full text available in Catalan 

Thesis full reference
Nebot, Maria Roser. (2016). Modelling of a hydrogeological basin through practical activities. (Doctoral thesis, Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona). Retrievable from and

Publications related to the dissertation

  • Nebot, Mª Roser, Márquez, Conxita and Sanmartí, N. (2012) Análisis de las interacciones verbales en un trabajo práctico con un modelo analógico de una cuenca hidrogeológica (Analysis of verbal interactions within a practical work on using analogical model of an hydrogeological basin). In 25 Encuentros de didáctica de las Ciencias Experimentales, Santiago de Compostela. Retriavable from (p. 67-74).
  • Nebot, Mª Roser & Márquez, Conxita. (2014). El ciclo del agua en el laboratorio: una propuesta de modelización. Alambique, 77, 17-24.
  • Nebot, Mª Roser & Márquez, Conxita. (2015). Estudio de la dinámica de una cuenca hidrogeológica a través de trabajos prácticos: una propuesta sistémica (The study of an hydrogeological basin dynamics through practical work: A systemic proposal). In 26 Encuentros de didáctica de las Ciencias Experimentales, Huelva. Retrivable from: 


Mª Roser Nebot
Riera 18, 08530 La Garriga
Tel. +0034 660415985
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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