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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 RJ1986Critical thinking: its nature, measurement, and improvementNational Institute of EducationNew Haven, CT
2. Facione PA2000The disposition toward critical thinking: its character, measurement, and relationship to critical thinking skillInform Logic20618410.22329/il.v20i1.2254 http://dx.doi.org/10.22329/il.v20i1.2254
3. Altstadt D2010Building opportunity: how states can leverage capital and infrastructure investments to put working families on a path to good jobsThe Working Poor Families ProjectEast Dummerston, VT
4. Business-Higher Education Forum & American Council on Education2003Building a nation of learners: the need for changes in teaching and learning to meet global challengesWashington, DC
5. Association of American Colleges and Universities2005Liberal education outcomes: a preliminary report on student achievement in collegeAACUWashington, DC
6. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision 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 ScienceJuly 15–17, 2009Washington, DC.
7. Bloom BS1956Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals by a committee of college and university examinersHandbook 1: cognitive domainsLongman GreenNew York, NY
8. Abrami PC, Bernard RM, Borokhovski E, Wade A, Surkes MA, Tamim R, Zhang D2008Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: a stage 1 meta-analysisRev of Educ Res7841102113410.3102/0034654308326084 http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0034654308326084
9. Paul RW1992Critical thinking: what, why, and how?New Dir Commun Coll77324
10. Willingham DT2008Critical thinking: why is it so hard to teach?Arts Educ Pol Rev109213210.3200/AEPR.109.4.21-32 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/AEPR.109.4.21-32
11. Quitadamo IJ, Kurtz MJ2007Learning to improve: using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biologyCBE Life Sci Educ614015410.1187/cbe.06-11-0203175488761885902 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203
12. Herreid CF1994Case studies in science—a novel method of science educationJ Coll Sci Teach234221229

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2018-10-31
2018-12-18

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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