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Modeling the Case Study Method


Karen K. Bernd
Department of Biology
Davidson College
Cindy D. Hauser
Department of Chemistry
Davidson College
Kristie L. Foley
Social Sciences and Health Policy
Wake Forest School of Medicine


The first day of class is often a reading of the syllabus, even when active learning approaches are used throughout the rest of the term. This interrupted case uses the first day to model the expectations of a course that uses case method approaches. Students are immediately involved in defining the broad topic of the course and experiencing how the course will be structured. The syllabus is discussed but only after the students develop definitions for key areas of the discipline, reflect on their learning goals and gain context for the type of readings and assignments found within the document. Designed for an undergraduate introduction to environmental health course, the case can be adapted to courses at any level and topic by substituting terms that are fundamental to your course's focus. The case is provided as a simple PowerPoint file whose use is explained in the teaching notes, but technology is not a requirement. Note cards are used to provide students and instructors with a snapshot of student perceptions before and after they have completed the 75-minute class period.


  • Define environmental health and its subareas.
  • Explain how information from each of the three subareas of environmental health can inform and influence work in the other subareas.
  • Explain the expectations and goals of the course.
  • Access course syllabus and materials (on our campus via online portal system, but could also be through hard copy).


first day; environment; environmental health; public health; epidemiology; interdisciplinary

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Chemistry (General)  |   Environmental Science  |   Public Health  |   Toxicology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.