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Bruno Borsari
Associate Professor
Biology Department
Winona State University
But I'm Too Young!: A Case Study of Ovarian Cancer

In this “clicker case,” students are introduced to Abby, a college student who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As they follow Abby’s plight, students learn about basic cellular and genetic mechanisms that are responsible for cancer formation, gaining a general understanding of how cells become cancerous through genetic mutations, how cancers can spread throughout the body by metastasizing, and how modern medicine is currently treating patients diagnosed with cancer through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Developed for use in a large introductory biology course, the case consists of a PowerPoint (~2MB) presented in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students answer using “clickers.” The case can be adapted for use without these technologies.

Prairie Garden of Troubles 

This "clicker case" was developed for a general biology course for non-majors. It focuses on prairie habitat ecology and restoration. Jim, a young ecologist, has created a reconstructed prairie in his backyard. His neighbors don't like it and they have complained to the local building inspector. The city weed ordinance is very clear about vegetation management, and Jim has been told that he must mow his plants and keep a tidy lawn like everyone else in the neighborhood. But he feels strongly that his efforts to create a more sustainable form of landscape in the Midwest town in which he lives are being misunderstood. Eventually, Jim will have to defend his case in court. The case is presented in class as a series of PowerPoint slides (~10MB) with multiple-choice questions that students answer using personal response systems (“clickers”) although it could be adapted for use without these technologies.

The Ecological Footprint Dilemma 

Is it better to have a new parking lot on campus or use that space to develop a community garden? This is the issue presented in this "clicker case," which pulls students into the decision-making process. Students learn about concepts related to sustainability and the challenges of developing more sustainable life styles. They also calculate their ecological footprint. The case combines the use of  personal response systems (clickers) with case teaching methods and formats. It is presented in class using a series of PowerPoint slides (~800KB) punctuated by questions that students respond to before moving on to the next slide. Written for a non-majors introductory biology class, the case also is suitable for use in courses in ecology, environmental science, conservation biology, environmental studies, and general biology.

When Wilma Met Fred: A Human Evolution Case

This "clicker case" follows a professor and his students in a study abroad course in Tanzania who are searching for human fossils in an effort to better understand where humans come from. The case story, presented as a PowerPoint presentation, is complemented by a classroom game that mimics modern TV shows where people look for an ideal "soul mate." Students are challenged to identify in the audience mates of the same species through clues disclosed by the instructor. The case and game facilitate learning about human evolution and the physical/cultural characteristics of a few, selected species of early hominins. Developed for a non-majors' introductory biology course, the case is also suitable for courses in evolution, natural history, biological anthropology, and general biology for majors with modifications. Although designed as a clicker case using PowerPoint slides (1.3 MB) with embedded questions that students answer in class, the case can be adapted for use without these technologies.