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The Use of Interrupted Case Studies to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills in Biology

    Authors: Tracy K. White1,*, Paul Whitaker1, Terri Gonya1, Richard Hein1, Dubear Kroening1, Kevin Lee1, Laura Lee1, Andrea Lukowiak1, Elizabeth Hayes1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin Colleges
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 17 May 2009
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: 1800 College Drive, Rice Lake, WI 54868. Phone: (715) 234-8176, ext. 5437. Fax: (715) 234-1975. E-mail: tracy.white@uwc.edu.
    • Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 25-31. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.96
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    Abstract:

    There has been a dramatic increase in the availability of case studies for use in the biology classroom, and perceptions of the effectiveness of case-study-based learning are overwhelmingly positive. Here we report the results of a study in which we evaluated the ability of interrupted case studies to improve critical thinking in the context of experimental design and the conventions of data interpretation. Students were assessed using further case studies designed to evaluate their ability to recognize and articulate problematic approaches to these elements of experimentation. Our work reveals that case studies have broad utility in the classroom. In addition to demonstrating a small but statistically significant increase in the number of students capable of critically evaluating selected aspects of experimental design, we also observed increased student engagement and documented widespread misconceptions regarding the conventions of data acquisition and analysis.

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References & Citations

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4. Brickman P, Glynn S, Graybeal G2008Introducing students to casesJ Coll Sci Teach3731216
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17. Yadav A, Lundeberg M, DeSchryver M, Dirkin K, Schiller N, Maier K, Herreid C2007Teaching science with case studies: a national survey of faculty perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using casesJ Coll Sci Teach.ing3713438
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v10.96
2009-05-17
2017-05-28

Abstract:

There has been a dramatic increase in the availability of case studies for use in the biology classroom, and perceptions of the effectiveness of case-study-based learning are overwhelmingly positive. Here we report the results of a study in which we evaluated the ability of interrupted case studies to improve critical thinking in the context of experimental design and the conventions of data interpretation. Students were assessed using further case studies designed to evaluate their ability to recognize and articulate problematic approaches to these elements of experimentation. Our work reveals that case studies have broad utility in the classroom. In addition to demonstrating a small but statistically significant increase in the number of students capable of critically evaluating selected aspects of experimental design, we also observed increased student engagement and documented widespread misconceptions regarding the conventions of data acquisition and analysis.

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Figures

Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

Students generating scientific hypotheses.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 25-31. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.96
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Image of FIG. 2.

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FIG. 2.

Student ability to recognize existing problems with experimental design and data interpretation pre- and postcourse. Student comments about problems with the experimental design and data interpretation in the assessment vignettes were categorized as relating to sample size, statistical analysis, randomization, incorrectly controlled variables, and “other.” The graph shows the number of students with comments relating to problems that actually existed in the vignettes.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2009 vol. 10 no. 1 25-31. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v10.96
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