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Kristina Hannam
Associate Professor
hannam@geneseo.edu
Department of Biology
SUNY Geneseo
An End to Ulcers?: A Case Study in the Scientific Method

This “clicker case” teaches students about the scientific method by following the story of the discovery of the cause of human gastric ulcers by two Australian biomedical scientists. Students see how the researchers followed up an unusual observation by applying the steps of the scientific method in support of their new hypothesis for the cause of this disease. Students practice the scientific method themselves by proposing their own hypotheses, identifying methods for testing the hypotheses, and predicting the results of experimental tests. Developed for a large introductory biology course, this case could also be used in an undergraduate microbiology course for pre-nursing majors to introduce the contemporary theory that many chronic medical conditions have an infectious origin. The case consists of a PowerPoint presentation (2.5MB) shown in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions students answer using personal response systems (“clickers”). It could be adapted for use without these technologies.


Bad Fish, Bad Bird: Neurotoxin Poisoning from Fish and Fowl

This "clicker case" is based on the General Biology edition of James Hewlett’s “Bad Fish” case in our collection. The case follows the story of biologist Dr. Westwood, who is accidentally poisoned, first while traveling in Asia and then in the South Pacific. Students learn about Dr. Westwood’s experiences and about nerve cell physiology—focusing especially on the role of ion channels in maintaining and changing electrical gradients across the cell membrane (resting potential and action potentials). They then apply what they learn in each part of the case to determine the mechanism of neurotoxin poisonings described in the case. The case is presented in class via PowerPoint (~2MB).  Students use personal response systems, or “clickers,” to answer the multiple-choice questions that punctuate the PowerPoint presentation as they explore the underlying mechanism of Dr. Westwood’s poisoning.


Fishing for Answers in the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone 

This “clicker case” addresses the eutrophication of aquatic systems caused by human activities. "Susan" is a biology student working at a seafood restaurant on the Gulf of Mexico. She discovers that the restaurant doesn't serve locally caught shrimp because shrimp populations are in decline. While searching for an explanation, Susan learns about the nitrogen cycle as well as interactions between species, the abiotic and biotic environment, and multiple ecosystems (terrestrial and aquatic). Developed for a large introductory biology course, the case combines the use of student personal response systems ("clickers") with case teaching methods and formats. It is presented in class using a series of PowerPoint slides (~3.8MB) punctuated by questions that students respond to using their clickers. The case could be adapted for use without these technologies.


Who Set the Moose Loose?: Trophic Interactions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

This “clicker case” focuses on the food web of the riparian bird communities of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystemand how community structure and productivity may be influenced by top-down mechanisms, resulting in a trophic cascade. As students examine the food web and non-feeding interactions among the community members, they uncover the effects of herbivore densities on songbird populations and gain an appreciation for species interactions and impacts in a biological community. The case is presented in class using PowerPoint slides (~2.6MB) that are punctuated by multiple-choice questions which students answer using clickers, though the case could be adapted for use without these technologies. Designed for an introductory biology course taken primarily by freshmen and sophomores to fulfill a general education requirement, it could also be used in an introductory course for biology majors.