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Place-Based Case Studies: A New Approach to an Effective Teaching Practice

    Authors: Ginger R. Fisher1, David Esparza2, Jeffrey T. Olimpo2,*
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639; 2: Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 27 March 2018 Accepted 18 September 2018 Published 26 April 2019
    • ©2019 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 Biological Sciences, B226A, Biology Bldg., The University of Texas at El Paso, 500 W. University Ave., El Paso, TX 79968. Phone: 915-747-6923. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1611
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    Abstract:

    Case-based approaches have been used extensively in STEM classrooms to enhance the real-world applicability of course content. Prior research in the bioeducation field indicates, specifically, that such methods lead to increases in students’ conceptual understanding and affect in the discipline relative to more traditional methods. Despite these outcomes, the majority of case study exercises are formatted in a generalist manner. In other words, the content and context of the case study itself are not framed around the communities in which the students live. In an effort to address this concern, we developed and implemented a series of place-based case study (PBCS) exercises within the introductory cell and molecular biology courses at our institutions. A comparative, quasi-experimental approach was used to evaluate the impact of PBCSs versus non-PBCSs on cognitive and non-cognitive student outcomes. Results indicated that both PBCSs and non-PBCSs led to increases in students’ content knowledge; however, no statistically significant difference existed in post-exercise performance between the PBCS and non-PBCS cohorts at the University of Texas, for instance, after controlling for confounding factors. Importantly, data also revealed that students within the PBCS cohort agreed more strongly that the case studies provided them with a better understanding of how scientific advancements and research impacted the community in which they lived than did their peers in the non-PBCS cohort. Collectively, these outcomes suggest that PBCSs offer a scalable, classroom-based approach to engage students in relevant, practical experiences that are of direct interest to them and, ideally, the broader scientific community.

References & Citations

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3. Knight JD, Fulop RM, Marquez-Magana L, Tanner KD 2008 Investigative cases and student outcomes in an upper-division cell and molecular biology laboratory course at a minority-serving institution CBE Life Sci Educ 7 382 393 10.1187/cbe.08-06-0027 19047425 2592045 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.08-06-0027
4. Cleveland L, Olimpo JT, DeChenne-Peters SE 2017 Investigating the relationship between instructors’ use of active-learning strategies and students’ conceptual understanding and affective changes in introductory biology: a comparison of two active-learning environments CBE Life Sci Educ 16 1 10 10.1187/cbe.16-06-0181 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-06-0181
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11. Tran M, Herrera F, Garibay J 2011 When science lacks diversity and social relevance, can students be objective scientists and still be themselves? National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education May 31–June 4 San Francisco, CA
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2019-04-26
2019-05-24

Abstract:

Case-based approaches have been used extensively in STEM classrooms to enhance the real-world applicability of course content. Prior research in the bioeducation field indicates, specifically, that such methods lead to increases in students’ conceptual understanding and affect in the discipline relative to more traditional methods. Despite these outcomes, the majority of case study exercises are formatted in a generalist manner. In other words, the content and context of the case study itself are not framed around the communities in which the students live. In an effort to address this concern, we developed and implemented a series of place-based case study (PBCS) exercises within the introductory cell and molecular biology courses at our institutions. A comparative, quasi-experimental approach was used to evaluate the impact of PBCSs versus non-PBCSs on cognitive and non-cognitive student outcomes. Results indicated that both PBCSs and non-PBCSs led to increases in students’ content knowledge; however, no statistically significant difference existed in post-exercise performance between the PBCS and non-PBCS cohorts at the University of Texas, for instance, after controlling for confounding factors. Importantly, data also revealed that students within the PBCS cohort agreed more strongly that the case studies provided them with a better understanding of how scientific advancements and research impacted the community in which they lived than did their peers in the non-PBCS cohort. Collectively, these outcomes suggest that PBCSs offer a scalable, classroom-based approach to engage students in relevant, practical experiences that are of direct interest to them and, ideally, the broader scientific community.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Outcomes associated with the cellular respiration (A) and mitosis and meiosis (B) case studies, both at UT, and with the scientific method (C) and macromolecules (D) case studies, both at UC. Student participation in PBCSs results in statistically significant gains in content knowledge in all cases (A – D). For the UT cohort, students who participated in non-PBCSs (A and B) also showed significant gains. * ≤ 0.015. PBCS = place-based case study.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1611
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

UT students who participated in PBCSs report greater understanding of how scientific advancements and research could impact their community relative to a non-PBCS comparison group (A and B). In contrast, both PBCS and non-PBCS students at UC found the case-based exercises to be important in establishing connections between real-world science and their own communities (C and D). * < 0.008. PBCS = place-based case study.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2019 vol. 20 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i1.1611
Download as Powerpoint

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