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A Systematic Approach to Teaching Case Studies and Solving Novel Problems

    Authors: Carolyn A. Meyer1,*, Heather Hall1, Natascha Heise1, Karen Kaminski2, Kenneth R. Ivie1, Tod R. Clapp1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523; 2: School of Education, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 13 February 2018 Accepted 18 September 2018 Published 31 October 2018
    • ©2018 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. Phone: 970-491-5554. Fax: 970-491-7907. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1593
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    Abstract:

    Both research and practical experience in education support the use of case studies in the classroom to engage students and develop critical thinking skills. In particular, working through case studies in scientific disciplines encourages students to incorporate knowledge from a variety of backgrounds and apply a breadth of information. While it is recognized that critical thinking is important for student success in professional school and future careers, a specific strategy to tackle a novel problem is lacking in student training. We have developed a four-step systematic approach to solving case studies that improves student confidence and provides them with a definitive road map that is useful when solving any novel problem, both in and out of the classroom. This approach encourages students to define unfamiliar terms, create a timeline, describe the systems involved, and identify any unique features. This method allows students to solve complex problems by organizing and applying information in a logical progression. We have incorporated case studies in anatomy and neuroanatomy courses and are confident that this systematic approach will translate well to courses in various scientific disciplines.

References & Citations

1. Sternberg RJ 1986 Critical thinking: its nature, measurement, and improvement National Institute of Education New Haven, CT
2. Facione PA 2000 The disposition toward critical thinking: its character, measurement, and relationship to critical thinking skill Inform Logic 20 61 84 10.22329/il.v20i1.2254 http://dx.doi.org/10.22329/il.v20i1.2254
3. Altstadt D 2010 Building opportunity: how states can leverage capital and infrastructure investments to put working families on a path to good jobs The Working Poor Families Project East Dummerston, VT
4. Business-Higher Education Forum & American Council on Education 2003 Building a nation of learners: the need for changes in teaching and learning to meet global challenges Washington, DC
5. Association of American Colleges and Universities 2005 Liberal education outcomes: a preliminary report on student achievement in college AACU Washington, DC
6. American Association for the Advancement of Science 2011 Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science July 15–17, 2009 Washington, DC.
7. Bloom BS 1956 Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals by a committee of college and university examiners Handbook 1: cognitive domains Longman Green New York, NY
8. Abrami PC, Bernard RM, Borokhovski E, Wade A, Surkes MA, Tamim R, Zhang D 2008 Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: a stage 1 meta-analysis Rev of Educ Res 78 4 1102 1134 10.3102/0034654308326084 http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0034654308326084
9. Paul RW 1992 Critical thinking: what, why, and how? New Dir Commun Coll 77 3 24
10. Willingham DT 2008 Critical thinking: why is it so hard to teach? Arts Educ Pol Rev 109 21 32 10.3200/AEPR.109.4.21-32 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/AEPR.109.4.21-32
11. Quitadamo IJ, Kurtz MJ 2007 Learning to improve: using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biology CBE Life Sci Educ 6 140 154 10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203 17548876 1885902 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203
12. Herreid CF 1994 Case studies in science—a novel method of science education J Coll Sci Teach 23 4 221 229

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2018-10-31
2019-04-21

Abstract:

Both research and practical experience in education support the use of case studies in the classroom to engage students and develop critical thinking skills. In particular, working through case studies in scientific disciplines encourages students to incorporate knowledge from a variety of backgrounds and apply a breadth of information. While it is recognized that critical thinking is important for student success in professional school and future careers, a specific strategy to tackle a novel problem is lacking in student training. We have developed a four-step systematic approach to solving case studies that improves student confidence and provides them with a definitive road map that is useful when solving any novel problem, both in and out of the classroom. This approach encourages students to define unfamiliar terms, create a timeline, describe the systems involved, and identify any unique features. This method allows students to solve complex problems by organizing and applying information in a logical progression. We have incorporated case studies in anatomy and neuroanatomy courses and are confident that this systematic approach will translate well to courses in various scientific disciplines.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Grade performance in case study written summaries as measured with the grading rubric throughout the semester. A) Mean (with SD) grade performance in case study write-ups in the spring semester of 2016. B) Mean (with SD) grade performance in case study write-ups in the spring semester of 2017. Overall grade performance in case study written summaries improved throughout the 10 weeks in which this method was implemented in the classroom. Written summaries are graded based on a set rubric ( Appendix 3 ) that assigned a score between 0 and 1 for five different categories. Data represent the mean of students’ scores and the associated standard deviation. Improved student performance throughout the semester indicates progress in successful incorporation of this method to solve a complex novel problem.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1593
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Student responses to a survey regarding their approach to solving a novel problem. Data were collected prior to and following the completion of the spring semester of 2016. A) Student approach to solving a novel problem at the beginning of the semester. B) Student approach to solving a novel problem at the end of the semester. Student responses indicate that following a semester of training in using this method, students prefer to use this four-step systematic approach to solve a novel problem.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1593
Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 3

Click to view

FIGURE 3

Student responses to a survey regarding their approach to solving a novel problem. Data were collected prior to and following the completion of spring semester of 2017. A) Student approach to solving a novel problem at the beginning of the semester. B) Student approach to solving a novel problem at the end of the semester. Student responses indicate that students overwhelmingly utilize this systematic approach when solving a novel problem.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. October 2018 vol. 19 no. 3 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v19i3.1593
Download as Powerpoint

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