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Chantilly A. Apollon
Assistant Professor
Division of Math and Science
Holy Names University
Is the Data Dirty or Clean?: The Role of Experimental Design in Human Health Studies

This case study challenges students to differentiate between anecdotal evidence and science-based evidence related to human health. The case uses a "flipped" approach in which students watch two preparatory videos prior to attending class. The first video defines anecdotal evidence while the second characterizes the different categories of scientific studies that generate evidence that is not anecdotal. Students watch the videos, analyze scenarios for anecdotal evidence, and think about what types of evidence they use to make health-related decisions. When students meet in class, they work in groups to compare and contrast these different categories of scientific studies and classify actual research studies aided by a dichotomous key for distinguishing between different types of studies related to human health. Primarily designed for students in introductory general biology courses, the activity could also be useful for lower division nutrition, physiology, or non-major biology courses or any course where students need to differentiate between science and pseudoscience.