2009 Selected Presentations

Case Studies in Distance Learning Environments (1.9 MB)
James Hewlett, Associate Professor of Biology, Finger Lakes Community College, hewletja@flcc.edu

The number and diversity of online courses in higher education has increased dramatically over the last several years and is outpacing enrollment growth in traditional classroom courses. According to the Sloan Consortium, over 20 percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007. With this dramatic growth comes the need for an understanding of how traditional classroom pedagogies can be employed as effective tools in online education. Utilizing an example of a case-based Human Anatomy and Physiology course at Finger Lakes Community College, participants will explore a variety of strategies for integrating case studies into a distance education course.

Bringing Scientific Research to Life: A Case-Based Model for Integrating Project-Based Learning into Introductory Science Courses (3.9 MB)
James Hewlett, Associate Professor of Biology, Finger Lakes Community College, hewletja@flcc.edu

The National Science Foundation and National Research Council have produced numerous reports and recommendations on how to reform science education at our nation’s colleges and universities. In almost every case, the recommendations focus on the idea that to learn science, you must do science. As an example, BIO 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists contains a recommendation that an undergraduate research experience should be integrated as early as possible in the education pathway, a concept that has tremendous impact on how introductory courses should be taught. At the same time, the gap between teaching/education and scientific research continues to widen. What is needed is a pedagogy that can bridge this gap and can begin to integrate research into the instructor “tool box.” In this session, participants will explore how the case study method is being employed as part of a larger model to integrate project-based learning into the first two years of a college science curriculum.

Teaching for Understanding in Science: Active Learning and Assessment (4.5 MB)
Diane Ebert-May, Professor of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, ebertmay@msu.edu

This session is based on current research about undergraduate science curriculum reform, how students learn, and how assessment improves student learning. We will use your course materials (so bring sample assessments) and examine hows and whys to (1) move from a teacher-centered to learner-centered classroom, (2) actively engage students in learning in all types of classroom and laboratory environments, (3) develop multiple kinds of assessments based on goals that provide substantive data about student learning, and (4) analyze and use assessment data to improve instruction.

Laboratory-Based Case Studies (95 KB)
Frank Dinan, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Canisius College, dinan@canisius.edu

Case studies can place laboratory experiments in a setting that makes them more engaging for students. Removing experiments from their conventional context and weaving them into a story that involves people and/or situations that students can identify with, can make laboratory work not only more interesting, but also more insightful and challenging. Minimizing detailed experimental directions requires enhanced student creativity, and requiring reports that are written in a narrative prose style enhances student-writing skills. Specific examples of case-based labs will be given in this session.

Using Problems and Cases to Motivate Students to Take Responsibility for Their Learning (1.6 MB)
Richard Donham, Senior Policy Associate, Mathematics & Science Education Resource Center, University of Delaware, donham@udel.edu

Problem-based Learning (PBL) and Case-based Learning (CBL) share many goals: both motivate students to build their own disciplinary understandings, both give students experience in collaborative teams, and both require students to take greater responsibility for their own learning. Both also can be easily used in any scientific subdiscipline to address the most fundamental of the science standards: the nature of science. But, PBL and CBL both also require the teacher to fundamentally re-think his or her role in the classroom. In doing so, they move along a trajectory from that of transmitter of knowledge to that of a learning guide; i.e., toward planning the learning context and evaluating students’ thinking. Participants will assume the role of a student and work through an abbreviated PBL problem. Examples of problems and cases will be shown that illustrate ow both pedagogies may encourage teacher creativity and renew enthusiasm for the discipline.

Two Case Study Types for High School: The Interrupted Case and Simulations (900 KB)
James Serach, Aldo Leopold Chair for Distinguished Teaching in Environmental Science and Ethics, The Lawrenceville School

Important goals of high school science ought to include an understanding of the nature of scientific evidence and the ability to understand and work through messy, complex issues. Two kinds of cases serve these goals very well. The interrupted case study method can be applied to help high school students become more scientifically literate by exposing them to and making more accessible the primary scientific literature. Simulations, such as mock trials and congressional hearings, require students to explore a particular role in depth, understand counterarguments to their positions, and listen and respond to classmates. In this session, you will work through an interrupted case and how to use and manage a role-play simulation. We will discuss the components necessary to make these exercises engaging, entertaining, and pedagogically effective.

How to Write a Clicker Case Teachers Want to Teach and Students Enjoy (5.3 MB)
Eric Ribbens, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University, E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

Your creative juices are flowing. These clickers are really cool, and the idea of teaching cases to a big class is fascinating (and maybe a bit overwhelming). You want to write a clicker case, a case that will grip a large class, a case that will challenge, fascinate, and above all teach. But how? What makes a good clicker case work and helpful teaching notes helpful? We’ll dissect several clicker cases, probing them to find what works and what fails. We’ll also look at how to write useful teaching notes, which are critical to a good case even though your students never see them. Ideas will be bursting from you by the time we finish this session, and you will be ready to write a case that uses clickers!

Committed to Cases: Integrating the Case Concept into Your Course (2.4 MB)
Eric Ribbens, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Illinois University, E-Ribbens@wiu.edu

You like case studies. You’ve taught some in your courses. You’ve seen your students respond, and you believe cases are a good teaching method. But how do you really integrate cases into your class? What are the challenges? Benefits? Risks? We’ll take an introductory biology syllabus and explore strategies to embed cases deeply into the course. We’ll also share our experiences and discuss strategies to successfully transition to a class that is case-intensive.

The Teacher as Researcher: Using Assessment to Understand Students Better with Problems and Cases (600 KB)
Richard Donham, Senior Policy Associate, Mathematics & Science Education Resource Center, University of Delaware, donham@udel.edu

Problems and cases require that the teacher transform his or her thinking about assessment and its role in the classroom. Both of these inquiry-based pedagogies embed process as well as content objectives and both kinds of objectives should be assessed. The teacher may use low-stakes formative assessments to not only inform their instruction about student prior knowledge, but also engage students in a general topic, encourage metacognition, and build confidence. Team function may be enhanced through the use of concept mapping, which can be used to assess group performance and to push students toward the higher levels of understanding (in the terms of Bloom’s revised taxonomy). Writing assessments can be used toward building strong writing and communication skills in the context of big ideas in science. In the role of a student, participants will be provided examples and use rubrics to evaluate their performance.


Overcoming the Peculiar Teaching Challenges of Clicker Cases (780 KB)
Peggy Brickman, Associate Professor of Plant Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Georgia, brickman@uga.edu

Thanks to the advent of remote response devices (clickers), the real life science applications of cases can now be experienced in even the largest enrollment courses. Of course, the same classroom management and case writing challenges found in traditional case teaching can also be exhibited in clicker cases, but there are also novel challenges: how to encourage discussion of multiple choice questions, ensure academic honesty, prepare for technological failure, not to mention the ultimate challenge: how to write multiple-choice questions that assess more than just content. In this workshop, I will introduce methods that I have found helpful in developing and implementing clicker cases. Participants will get the opportunity to work together in small groups to write and critique clicker questions and cases.