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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: smm3@cornell.edu.
    • 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 YJ2005Enhancing undergraduate students’ chemistry understanding through project-based learning in an IT environmentSci Educ89111713910.1002/sce.20027 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sce.20027
2. Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University1998Reinventing undergraduate education: a blueprint for America’s research universitiesThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of TeachingNew York, N.Y.
3. Cliff WH, Nesbitt LM2005An open or shut case?J Coll Sci Teaching3441417
4. Dochy F, Segers M, Van den Bossche P, Gijbels D2003Effects of problem-based learning: a meta-analysisLearning and instruction51353356810.1016/S0959-4752(02)00025-7 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(02)00025-7
5. Herreid CF1994Case studies in science: a novel method for science educationJ Coll Sci Teaching234221229
6. Hudson JN, Buckley P2004An evaluation of case-based teaching: evidence for continuing benefit and realization of aimsAdv. in Physiol. Educ28152210.1152/advan.00019.2002 http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/advan.00019.2002
7. Major CH, Palmer B2001Assessing the effectiveness of problem based learning in higher education: lessons from the literatureAcademic Exchange QuarterlySpring5149
8. Merkel SM, Walman LB, Leventhal JS2000An evaluation of computer-based instruction in microbiologyMicrobiol. Educ11419
9. Merrill MD2002First principles of instructionEduc Technol Res Dev503435910.1007/BF02505024 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02505024
10. National Research Council2000Inquiry and the national science education standardsNational Academic PressWashington, D.C.
11. Nicholls C, Merkel SM, Cordts M1996The effect of computer animation on students’ understanding of microbiologyJ Res Computing Educ28359371
12. Travis H, Lord T2004Traditional and constructivist teaching techniquesJ Coll Sci Teaching3431218
13. Zoller U2000Teaching tomorrow’s college science teaching courses: are we getting it right?J Coll Sci Teaching296409414
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/154288106X14285806660487
2006-05-01
2017-12-12

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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