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Maureen Knabb
Professor
mknabb@wcupa.edu
Department of Biology
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
A Metabolic Storm: Tragedy in the Operating Room

This "clicker" case presents the true story of a 20-year-old athlete who developed a life threatening reaction to anesthesia during a simple elective surgical procedure. His response was unexpected, but not unusual for individuals who possess an inherited skeletal muscle disorder leading to a condition called malignant hyperthermia because the symptoms only appear in the presence of certain anesthetics. Once the anesthetics act on skeletal muscle proteins, the patient experiences elevated body temperature up to 107°F, muscle rigidity, organ failure, and eventual death if left untreated. Designed for a large enrollment course in human anatomy and physiology or an upper-level physiology course, the case is useful for teaching the events leading to skeletal muscle contraction and relaxation, the importance of ATP and calcium ions in muscle contraction, and how a mutation in a skeletal muscle protein associated with excitation-contraction coupling can lead to malignant hyperthermia. The case is an adaptation of "A Perfect Storm in the Operating Room: Anesthesia and Skeletal Muscle Contractions" by Kelley Grorud published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) in 2010.


Cross-Dressing or Crossing-Over?: Sex Testing of Women Athletes

In this “clicker case,” students learn about sex determination, meiosis, and chromosomal “crossing over” through the story of Santhi Soundararajan, an athlete from Kathakkurichi, India, who was stripped of a medal at the 2006 Asian Games after failing to pass a sex test. The case is called a clicker case because it combines the use of student personal response systems (clickers) with case teaching methods and formats. The case itself is a PowerPoint presentation (~2 MB) shown in class that is punctuated by questions students respond to using their clickers. It can be adapted for use without these technologies. Developed for an introductory biology class for both majors and non-majors, the case could also be used in an anatomy and physiology course or an endocrinology course.


Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes 

This “clicker case” begins by assessing students’ impressions of global climate change and the role that human activities play in recent global warming trends. Students assume the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator. They need to understand the scientific evidence for human impact on climate change so that they can advise the senator on future policy decisions. The case was designed for use in a one-semester introductory biology course taken primarily by freshmen and sophomores to fulfill a general education requirement, but could be used in any introductory biology course or in an ecology or environmental science course. It consists of a PowerPoint presentation (~1.6MB) presented in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions students respond to using personal response systems (“clickers”). The case can be adapted for use without these technologies.


Global Climate Change: Impact and Remediation 

This “clicker case” is a continuation of another case in our collection, “Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” in which students assumed the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator so that they could advise the senator on future policy decisions. In this case, students learn about the impact and effects of global climate change as well as technologies and practices available to remediate the impact of climate effects. The case was designed for use in a one-semester introductory biology course taken primarily by freshmen and sophomores to fulfill a general education requirement, but could be used in any introductory biology course or in an ecology or environmental science course. It consists of a PowerPoint presentation (~2.2MB) presented in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions students respond to using personal response systems, or “clickers.”  The case can be adapted for use without these technologies.


Pharmacogenetics: How Genetic Information Is Used to Treat Disease 

In this clicker case, two teenagers are diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the bone marrow where there is an abnormal overproduction of lymphocyte precursors. The girls' reactions to treatment are very different, however, due to genetic differences that alter the metabolism of the chemotherapeutic agent. This specific example of pharmacogenetics, how genetic testing can be used to treat ALL, is later expanded to consider the wider area of pharmacogenomics, where genome-wide testing can provide information about the most appropriate treatment for individuals based on their genetic profile.  This clicker adaptation is based on "Pharmacogenetics: Using Genetics to Treat Disease" by Jeanne Ting Chowning, published as part of the case collection of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science in 2010. It has been reformatted as a PowerPoint lecture with multiple choice questions (clicker questions) embedded in the lecture to reinforce important concepts. The case is appropriate for a large enrollment course in a human anatomy and physiology or an upper-level physiology course; it can also be used in molecular biology, genetics, pre-pharmacy, or pharmacology courses.


Why is Patrick Paralyzed? 

This “clicker case” introduces students to a rare genetic disease in which an enzyme is deficient in a critical metabolic pathway—the first step in aerobic respiration. Based on a real-life situation, the case challenges students to make connections between energy production, enzymes, and metabolic diseases. The case was developed for one-semester, majors’ introductory biology course taken primarily by freshmen and sophomores to fulfill a general education requirement, but could be used in any introductory biology course.  It consists of a PowerPoint presentation (~1MB) shown in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students answer using personal response systems (aka “clickers”). The case could be adapted for use without these technologies.