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Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains

    Author: Kevin M. Bonney1
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    Affiliations: 1: Liberal Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, New York University, New York, NY 10003
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2015
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Liberal Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 726 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York University, New York, NY 10003. Phone: 212-998-3722. Fax: 212-995-4771. E-mail: [email protected].
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 21-28. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846
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    Abstract:

    Following years of widespread use in business and medical education, the case study teaching method is becoming an increasingly common teaching strategy in science education. However, the current body of research provides limited evidence that the use of published case studies effectively promotes the fulfillment of specific learning objectives integral to many biology courses. This study tested the hypothesis that case studies are more effective than classroom discussions and textbook reading at promoting learning of key biological concepts, development of written and oral communication skills, and comprehension of the relevance of biological concepts to everyday life. This study also tested the hypothesis that case studies produced by the instructor of a course are more effective at promoting learning than those produced by unaffiliated instructors. Additionally, performance on quantitative learning assessments and student perceptions of learning gains were analyzed to determine whether reported perceptions of learning gains accurately reflect academic performance. The results reported here suggest that case studies, regardless of the source, are significantly more effective than other methods of content delivery at increasing performance on examination questions related to chemical bonds, osmosis and diffusion, mitosis and meiosis, and DNA structure and replication. This finding was positively correlated to increased student perceptions of learning gains associated with oral and written communication skills and the ability to recognize connections between biological concepts and other aspects of life. Based on these findings, case studies should be considered as a preferred method for teaching about a variety of concepts in science courses.

Key Concept Ranking

DNA Replication
0.658354
Osmosis
0.5535136
Diffusion
0.47319734
Chemicals
0.4671474
Mitosis
0.41557354
0.658354

References & Citations

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2. Bonney KM 2014 Diffusion and osmosis: from gummy bears to celery stalks National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/diffusion_osmosis.pdf
3. Bonney KM 2013 An argument and plan for promoting the teaching and learning of neglected tropical diseases J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 14 2 183 188 10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.631 24358381 3867755 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.631
4. Carlson JA, Schodt DW 1995 Beyond the lecture: case teaching and the learning of economic theory J Econ Educ 26 1 17 28 10.1080/00220485.1995.10844853 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220485.1995.10844853
5. Cliff WH, Wright AW 1996 Directed case study method for teaching human anatomy and physiology Adv Phys Educ 15 1 S19 S28
6. Dori YJ, Herscovitz O 1998 Question-posing capability as an alternative evaluation method: analysis of an environmental case study J Col Sci Teach 36 4 411 430 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2736(199904)36:4<411::AID-TEA2>3.0.CO;2-E http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2736(199904)36:4<411::AID-TEA2>3.0.CO;2-E
7. Flynn AE, Klein JD 2001 The influence of discussion groups in a case-based learning environment Educ Tech Res Dev 49 3 71 86 10.1007/BF02504916 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02504916
8. Herreid CF, Schiller NA, Herreid KF, Wright C 2011 In case you are interested: results of a survey of case study teachers J Col Sci Teach 40 4 76 80
9. Herreid CF 1994 Case studies in science—a novel method of science education J Col Sci Teach 23 4 221 229
10. Herreid CF 2003 The case of the dividing cell National Center for Case Study Teaching in science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/mitosis_meiosis.pdf
11. Knechel WR 1992 Using the case method in accounting instruction Iss Acc Educ 7 2 205 217
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14. McNair MP, Hersum AC 1954 The case method at the harvard business school McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. New York, NY
15. Merseth KK 1991 The case for cases in teacher education AACTE Publications Washington, DC
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18. Pals-Rylaarsdam R 2012 Classic experiments in molecular biology National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/mol_bio_classics.pdf
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20. Seymour E, Wiese D, Hunter A, Daffinrud SM 2000 Creating a better mousetrap: on-line student assessment of their learning gains National Meeting of the American Chemical Society San Francisco, CA
21. Tomey AM 2003 Learning with cases J Cont Educ Nurs 34 1 34 38
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23. Yadav A, et al 2007 Teaching science with case studies: a national survey of faculty perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using cases J Col Sci Teach 37 1 34 38
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2015-05-01
2019-02-19

Abstract:

Following years of widespread use in business and medical education, the case study teaching method is becoming an increasingly common teaching strategy in science education. However, the current body of research provides limited evidence that the use of published case studies effectively promotes the fulfillment of specific learning objectives integral to many biology courses. This study tested the hypothesis that case studies are more effective than classroom discussions and textbook reading at promoting learning of key biological concepts, development of written and oral communication skills, and comprehension of the relevance of biological concepts to everyday life. This study also tested the hypothesis that case studies produced by the instructor of a course are more effective at promoting learning than those produced by unaffiliated instructors. Additionally, performance on quantitative learning assessments and student perceptions of learning gains were analyzed to determine whether reported perceptions of learning gains accurately reflect academic performance. The results reported here suggest that case studies, regardless of the source, are significantly more effective than other methods of content delivery at increasing performance on examination questions related to chemical bonds, osmosis and diffusion, mitosis and meiosis, and DNA structure and replication. This finding was positively correlated to increased student perceptions of learning gains associated with oral and written communication skills and the ability to recognize connections between biological concepts and other aspects of life. Based on these findings, case studies should be considered as a preferred method for teaching about a variety of concepts in science courses.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Case study teaching method increases student performance on examination questions. Mean score on a set of examination questions related to lessons covered by case studies (black bars) and paired control questions of similar format and difficulty about an unrelated topic (white bars). Chemical bonds, n = 54; Osmosis and diffusion, n = 54; Mitosis and meiosis, n = 51; DNA structure and replication, n = 50. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean (SEM). Asterisk indicates < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 21-28. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

The case study teaching method increases student perceptions of learning gains. Student perceptions of learning gains are indicated by plotting responses to the question “How much did each of the following activities: (A) Help your learning overall? (B) Improve your ability to communicate your knowledge of scientific concepts in writing? (C) Improve your ability to communicate your knowledge of scientific concepts orally? (D) Help you understand the connections between scientific concepts and other aspects of your everyday life?” Reponses are represented as follows: Helped a great amount (black bars); Helped a good amount (dark gray bars); Helped a moderate amount (medium gray bars); Helped a small amount (light gray bars); Provided no help (white bars). Asterisk indicates < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 21-28. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846
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Image of FIGURE 3.

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FIGURE 3.

Perception of learning gains but not author of case study is positively correlated to score on related examination questions. Percentage of students reporting that each specific case study provided “a great amount of help” to their learning was plotted against the point difference between mean score on examination questions related to that case study and mean score on paired control questions. Positive point differences indicate how much higher the mean scores on case study-related questions were than the mean scores on paired control questions. Black squares represent case studies produced by the instructor of the course; white squares represent case studies produced by unaffiliated instructors. R value indicates the coefficient of determination.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 21-28. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846
Download as Powerpoint

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