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Norris Armstrong
Associate Professor
Biology Department
University of Georgia
Agony and Ecstasy: A Case Study on Cell Membrane Structure and Function

This “clicker case” follows Susan, an intern at a local hospital, who has admitted a patient she discovers has used the drug Ecstasy. The girl becomes delirious, and Susan begins to suspect that she may be suffering from water intoxication. The case is designed for an introductory biology course for either science or non-science majors, though it could be adapted for upper level courses. It uses an example of water intoxication to introduce membrane structure and function, osmosis, and electrolyte balance in the body. The case itself is a PowerPoint presentation (~800KB) shown in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions students answer using clickers. It could be adapted for use without these technologies.

Baby Doe v. The Prenatal Clinic: When Cell Division Goes Awry

This "clicker case" presents a fictionalized story about a couple ("John" and "Jane") whose new baby is born with Down syndrome; the parents are suing the prenatal clinic where Jane received her care, blaming the clinic for the baby’s condition. Designed for an introductory biology course, the case has students assume the role of an expert witness hired by a law firm to give evidence in the case. To help determine the cause of "Baby Doe’s" condition and whether anyone can be held responsible for it, students need to help the jury understand the process of cell division. In particular, they must explain the behavior of the chromosomes during cell division and how errors in this process can result in conditions such as Down syndrome. The case is presented in class using PowerPoint slides (~1.8 MB) that are punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students respond to using hand-held personal response systems (clickers).  It could be adapted for use without these technologies.

Decoding the Flu 

This "clicker case" was designed to develop students' ability to read and interpret information stored in DNA. Making use of personal response systems ("clickers") along with a PowerPoint presentation, students follow the story of "Jason," a student intern at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). While working with a CDC team in Mexico, Jason is the only person who does not get sick from a new strain of flu. It is up to Jason to use molecular data collected from different local strains of flu to identify which one may be causing the illness. Although designed for an introductory biology course for science or non-science majors, the case could be adapted for upper-level courses by including more complex problems and aspects of gene expression, such as the excision of introns.

The Case of the Druid Dracula: Clicker Case Version 

This “clicker case” is a modified version of another case in our collection by the same name. It uses a PowerPoint presentation (~3MB) to present the case, which is punctuated by multiple-choice questions that students answer in class using hand-held personal response systems ("clickers"). The story revolves around a murder committed in Wales that was solved through DNA analysis. Students learn about DNA structure and replication, and how scientists have adapted this process for use in experimentation and forensic analysis, including PCR analysis and DNA fingerprinting. The students then use this knowledge to identify possible suspects in the crime. The case is designed for use in an introductory biology course either for science majors or non-majors. It could be modified for use in upper level classes as well.