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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: [email protected].
    • 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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3. Bloom BS 1956 Taxonomy of educational objectives: classification of educational goals Handbook 1: cognitive domain Longman, Green & Co. New York, NY
4. Brickman P, Glynn S, Graybeal G 2008 Introducing students to cases J Coll Sci Teach 37 3 12 16
5. Donovan SM, Bransford JD 2005 How students learn science in the classroom National Academy Press Washington, DC
6. Giere RN 1996 Understanding scientific reasoning Wadsworth Publishing Belmont, CA
7. Handelsman J, Ebert-May D, Beichner R, Bruns P, Chang A, DeHaan R, Gentile J, Lauffer S, Stewart J, Tilghman S, Wood W 2004 Scientific teaching Science 304 521 522 10.1126/science.1096022 15105480 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1096022
8. Herreid CF 2005 The interrupted case method J Coll Sci Teach 35 2 4 5
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10. Lederman N 1992 Students and teachers conceptions of the nature of science. A review of the research J Res Sci Teach 29 331 359 10.1002/tea.3660290404 http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.3660290404
11. Lundeberg MA, Yadav A 2006 Assessment of case study teaching: where do we go from here? Part I J Coll Sci Teach 35 5 10 13
12. Lundeberg MA, Yadav A 2006 Assessment of case study teaching: where do we go from here? Part II J Coll Sci Teach 35 6 8 13
13. McPherson GR 2001 Teaching and learning the scientific method Am Biol Teach 63 242 245
14. National Research Council 1996 From analysis to action: undergraduate education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology National Academy Press Washington, DC
15. Perry WG 1968 Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: a scheme Holt, Rinehart and Winston New York, NY
16. Wiggins G, McTighe J 1998 Understanding by design Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ
17. Yadav A, Lundeberg M, DeSchryver M, Dirkin K, Schiller N, Maier K, Herreid C 2007 Teaching science with case studies: a national survey of faculty perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using cases J Coll Sci Teach.ing 37 1 34 38

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2009-05-17
2019-02-16

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

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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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