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An Evaluation of Web-Based Case Studies in Microscopy

    Authors: SUSAN M. MERKEL1,*, MARILYN DISPENSA2, WILLIAM C. GHIORSE1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Microbiology and; 2: Cornell Information Technologies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Microbiology, 111 Wing Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850. Phone: (607) 277-8124. Fax: (607) 255-3904. E-mail: [email protected].
    • Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2006 vol. 7 no. 1 12-19. doi:10.1128/154288106X14285806660487
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    Abstract:

    It is often difficult to provide students in introductory science courses with opportunities that mimic the investigative learning experience of doing research. This is particularly true in microbiology courses where advanced microscopy techniques are expensive and difficult to do. To that end, we developed three computer-based case studies around real-life scenarios. Our goals were to: (i) improve students’ understanding of advanced microscopic techniques, (ii) give students practice analyzing and interpreting data, and (iii) model a scientific approach to how these techniques are applied to current issues in microbiology. Each case requires students to use references and interpret actual microscopic images, thus giving them a more realistic experience than we could previously provide. We analyzed student learning and perceptions to these case studies. After doing the case studies, students were more able to apply microscopic methods to a realistic problem, thus demonstrating an understanding of how the methods are used. Students appreciated the intellectual challenges presented by having to interpret and analyze actual microscopic images. This approach has allowed us to introduce new areas of content to our course and to stimulate critical thinking skills, a difficult task in a large introductory microbiology course.

Key Concept Ranking

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
0.5051873
Transmission Electron Microscopy
0.43826428
0.5051873

References & Citations

1. Barak M, Dori YJ 2005 Enhancing undergraduate students’ chemistry understanding through project-based learning in an IT environment Sci Educ 89 1 117 139 10.1002/sce.20027 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sce.20027
2. Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University 1998 Reinventing undergraduate education: a blueprint for America’s research universities The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching New York, N.Y.
3. Cliff WH, Nesbitt LM 2005 An open or shut case? J Coll Sci Teaching 34 4 14 17
4. Dochy F, Segers M, Van den Bossche P, Gijbels D 2003 Effects of problem-based learning: a meta-analysis Learning and instruction 5 13 533 568 10.1016/S0959-4752(02)00025-7 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(02)00025-7
5. Herreid CF 1994 Case studies in science: a novel method for science education J Coll Sci Teaching 23 4 221 229
6. Hudson JN, Buckley P 2004 An evaluation of case-based teaching: evidence for continuing benefit and realization of aims Adv. in Physiol. Educ 28 15 22 10.1152/advan.00019.2002 http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00019.2002
7. Major CH, Palmer B 2001 Assessing the effectiveness of problem based learning in higher education: lessons from the literature Academic Exchange Quarterly Spring 5 1 4 9
8. Merkel SM, Walman LB, Leventhal JS 2000 An evaluation of computer-based instruction in microbiology Microbiol. Educ 1 14 19
9. Merrill MD 2002 First principles of instruction Educ Technol Res Dev 50 3 43 59 10.1007/BF02505024 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02505024
10. National Research Council 2000 Inquiry and the national science education standards National Academic Press Washington, D.C.
11. Nicholls C, Merkel SM, Cordts M 1996 The effect of computer animation on students’ understanding of microbiology J Res Computing Educ 28 359 371
12. Travis H, Lord T 2004 Traditional and constructivist teaching techniques J Coll Sci Teaching 34 3 12 18
13. Zoller U 2000 Teaching tomorrow’s college science teaching courses: are we getting it right? J Coll Sci Teaching 29 6 409 414

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2006-05-01
2019-02-19

Abstract:

It is often difficult to provide students in introductory science courses with opportunities that mimic the investigative learning experience of doing research. This is particularly true in microbiology courses where advanced microscopy techniques are expensive and difficult to do. To that end, we developed three computer-based case studies around real-life scenarios. Our goals were to: (i) improve students’ understanding of advanced microscopic techniques, (ii) give students practice analyzing and interpreting data, and (iii) model a scientific approach to how these techniques are applied to current issues in microbiology. Each case requires students to use references and interpret actual microscopic images, thus giving them a more realistic experience than we could previously provide. We analyzed student learning and perceptions to these case studies. After doing the case studies, students were more able to apply microscopic methods to a realistic problem, thus demonstrating an understanding of how the methods are used. Students appreciated the intellectual challenges presented by having to interpret and analyze actual microscopic images. This approach has allowed us to introduce new areas of content to our course and to stimulate critical thinking skills, a difficult task in a large introductory microbiology course.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1

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FIG. 1

Screenshot from the results section of the “ and the NYC Watershed” case study, showing a map of the sampling sites within the watershed, the microscope images for that sample (in this case, cow manure), and the reference bar on the right.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2006 vol. 7 no. 1 12-19. doi:10.1128/154288106X14285806660487
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Image of FIG. 2

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FIG. 2

Responses from General Microbiology students after completing the (•) and Fatal Flu (▪) case studies. Responses were given values (1 = strongly disagree; 4 = strongly agree) and are reported as average +/- standard deviation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2006 vol. 7 no. 1 12-19. doi:10.1128/154288106X14285806660487
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