• assessment;
  • higher education;
  • interdisciplinary education;
  • monitoring;
  • teaching restoration

Post-project appraisals (PPAs) are systematic assessments of built restoration projects, which provide feedback on performance of restoration approaches to improve future restoration efforts. Unfortunately, most restoration projects are not subject to systematic assessment because of lack of institutional arrangements to sustain long-term evaluation and the orientation of most funding agencies towards project implementation rather than “studies.” As semester-long courses on river restoration increasingly appear in university curricula at the graduate and advanced undergraduate level, independent student research projects for such courses can provide a mechanism for building a database of PPAs (and components thereof) and providing the students with a powerful learning experience. In two UC Berkeley courses, we require independent student projects involving original field research, peer review of first drafts, instructor (and often outside) review of second drafts, and presentation of results to a public symposium. Since 1995, the revised, final papers have been added to the University of California library, where they constitute one of the largest collections of restoration-related studies currently available for any region: over 300 restoration-related studies, of which 80 are PPAs or components thereof. Since 2003, the papers have been posted on-line, with 40,000 full text downloads through 2010. Some term projects have directly influenced river restoration programs, inducing changes in salmon habitat enhancement project design, documenting failure of projects based on inappropriate restoration approaches, and contributing to systematic assessments of step-pool and compound channel designs in urban areas. Student evaluations cite the term projects as valuable learning experiences.