Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking

Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking
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For teachers who have an interest in developing critical thinking skills within the science classroom and showing how the scientific enterprise really works, this book provides a fascinating collection of exercises to achieve that end. He has published more than scientific, educational, and popular articles and has written or edited four books. Nancy A.

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To order by phone, call between 9 a. ET weekdays. The Arlington, Va. NSTA's current membership includes more than 55, science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education. All assessment questions were scored using a standardized, pre-determined rubric.

Students were presented with a consent form to opt-in to having their data included in the data analysis. After the course had concluded and final course grades had been posted, data from consenting students were pooled in a database and identifying information was removed prior to analysis. Statistical analysis of data was conducted using the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance and calculation of the R 2 coefficient of determination. To evaluate the effectiveness of the case study teaching method at promoting learning, student performance on examination questions related to material covered by case studies was compared with performance on questions that covered material addressed through classroom discussions and textbook reading.

The latter questions served as control items; assessment items for each case study were compared with control items that were of similar format, difficulty, and point value Appendix 1. In terms of examination performance, no significant difference between case studies produced by the instructor of the course chemical bonds and osmosis and diffusion and those produced by unaffiliated instructors mitosis and meiosis and DNA structure and replication was indicated by the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance.

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. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean SEM. Student learning gains were assessed using a modified version of the SALG course evaluation tool Appendix 2. To determine whether completing case studies was more effective at increasing student perceptions of learning gains than completing textbook readings or participating in class discussions, perceptions of student learning gains for each were compared.

The case study teaching method increases student perceptions of learning gains. 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? To elucidate the effectiveness of case studies at promoting learning gains related to specific course learning objectives compared with class discussions and textbook reading, students were asked how much each of these methods of content delivery specifically helped improve skills that were integral to fulfilling three main course objectives.

The differences in learning gains associated with both written and oral communication were statistically significant when completion of case studies was compared with either participation in class discussion or completion of textbook readings. Compared with textbook reading, class discussions led to a statistically significant increase in oral but not written communication skills. To test the hypothesis that case studies produced specifically for this course by the instructor were more effective at promoting learning gains than topically relevant case studies published by authors not associated with this course, perceptions of learning gains were compared for each of the case studies.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the effectiveness of case studies at promoting learning gains is not significantly affected by whether or not the course instructor authored the case study. Case studies positively affect student perceptions of learning gains about various biological topics. Finally, to determine whether performance on examination questions accurately predicts student perceptions of learning gains, mean scores on examination questions related to case studies were compared with reported perceptions of learning gains for those case studies Fig.

The coefficient of determination R 2 value was 0. This correlation was independent of case study author. Perception of learning gains but not author of case study is positively correlated to score on related examination 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 2 value indicates the coefficient of determination. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that teaching with case studies produced by the instructor of a course is more effective at promoting learning gains than using case studies produced by unaffiliated instructors. This study also tested the hypothesis that the case study teaching method is more effective than class discussions and textbook reading at promoting learning gains associated with four of the most commonly taught topics in undergraduate general biology courses: chemical bonds, osmosis and diffusion, mitosis and meiosis, and DNA structure and replication.

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In addition to assessing content-based learning gains, development of written and oral communication skills and the ability to connect scientific topics with real-world applications was also assessed, because these skills were overarching learning objectives of this course, and classroom activities related to both case studies and control lessons were designed to provide opportunities for students to develop these skills.

Finally, data were analyzed to determine whether performance on examination questions is positively correlated to student perceptions of learning gains resulting from case study teaching.

Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking (PB301X)

Compared with equivalent control questions about topics of similar complexity taught using class discussions and textbook readings, all four case studies produced statistically significant increases in the mean score on examination questions Fig. This indicates that case studies are more effective than more commonly used, traditional methods of content delivery at promoting learning of a variety of core concepts covered in general biology courses.

The finding that there was no statistical difference between case studies in terms of performance on examination questions suggests that case studies are equally effective at promoting learning of disparate topics in biology. The observations that students did not perform significantly less well on the first case study presented chemical bonds compared with the other case studies and that performance on examination questions did not progressively increase with each successive case study suggests that the effectiveness of case studies is not directly related to the amount of experience students have using case studies.

Furthermore, anecdotal evidence from previous semesters of this course suggests that, of the four topics addressed by cases in this study, DNA structure and function and osmosis and diffusion are the first and second most difficult for students to grasp. The lack of a statistical difference between case studies therefore suggests that the effectiveness of a case study at promoting learning gains is not directly proportional to the difficulty of the concept covered. However, the finding that use of the osmosis and diffusion case study resulted in the greatest increase in examination performance compared with control questions and also produced the highest student perceptions of learning gains is noteworthy and could be attributed to the fact that it was the only case study evaluated that included a hands-on experiment.

Because the inclusion of a hands-on kinetic activity may synergistically enhance student engagement and learning and result in an even greater increase in learning gains than case studies that lack this type of activity, it is recommended that case studies that incorporate this type of activity be preferentially utilized. Student perceptions of learning gains are strongly motivating factors for engagement in the classroom and academic performance, so it is important to assess the effect of any teaching method in this context 19 , A modified version of the SALG course evaluation tool was used to assess student perceptions of learning gains because it has been previously validated as an efficacious tool Appendix 2 Using the SALG tool, case study teaching was demonstrated to significantly increase student perceptions of overall learning gains compared with class discussions and textbook reading Fig.

Case studies were shown to be particularly useful for promoting perceived development of written and oral communication skills and for demonstrating connections between scientific topics and real-world issues and applications Figs. These findings also suggest that case study teaching could be used to increase student motivation and engagement in classroom activities and thus promote learning and performance on assessments. The finding that textbook reading yielded the lowest student perceptions of learning gains was not unexpected, since reading facilitates passive learning while the class discussions and case studies were both designed to promote active learning.

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Importantly, there was no statistical difference in student performance on examinations attributed to the two case studies produced by the instructor of the course compared with the two case studies produced by unaffiliated instructors. Even when considering the inherent qualitative differences of course grades, these differences are negligible. The observation that case studies published by unaffiliated instructors are just as effective as those produced by the instructor of a course suggests that instructors can reasonably rely on the use of pre-published case studies relevant to their class rather than investing the considerable time and effort required to produce a novel case study.

Science Stories Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking PB301X

Case studies covering a wide range of topics in the sciences are available from a number of sources, and many of them are free access. It should be noted that all case studies used in this study were rigorously peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by the NCCSTS prior to the completion of this study 2 , 10 , 18 , 25 ; the conclusions of this study may not apply to case studies that were not developed in accordance with similar standards.

Because case study teaching involves skills such as creative writing and management of dynamic group discussion in a way that is not commonly integrated into many other teaching methods, it is recommended that novice case study teachers seek training or guidance before writing their first case study or implementing the method.

Using Case Studies to Teach Science

The lack of a difference observed in the use of case studies from different sources should be interpreted with some degree of caution since only two sources were represented in this study, and each by only two cases. Furthermore, in an educational setting, quantitative differences in test scores might produce meaningful qualitative differences in course grades even in the absence of a p value that is statistically significant. In the future, it could be informative to confirm these findings using a larger cohort, by repeating the study at different institutions with different instructors, by evaluating different case studies, and by directly comparing the effectiveness of the case studying teaching method with additional forms of instruction, such as traditional chalkboard and slide-based lecturing, and laboratory-based activities.

It may also be informative to examine whether demographic factors such as student age and gender modulate the effectiveness of the case study teaching method, and whether case studies work equally well for non-science majors taking a science course compared with those majoring in the subject. Since the topical material used in this study is often included in other classes in both high school and undergraduate education, such as cell biology, genetics, and chemistry, the conclusions of this study are directly applicable to a broad range of courses. Presently, it is recommended that the use of case studies in teaching undergraduate general biology and other science courses be expanded, especially for the teaching of capacious issues with real-world applications and in classes where development of written and oral communication skills are key objectives.

ISBN 13: 9781936137251

The use of case studies that involve hands-on activities should be emphasized to maximize the benefit of this teaching method. Importantly, instructors can be confident in the use of pre-published case studies to promote learning, as there is no indication that the effectiveness of the case study teaching method is reliant on the production of novel, customized case studies for each course.

The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. J Microbiol Biol Educ. Published online May 1. Kevin M. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Phone: Fax: E-mail: ude. Published by the American Society for Microbiology. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Associated Data Supplementary Materials Appendix 1: Example assessment questions used to assess the effectiveness of case studies at promoting learning Appendix 2: Student learning gains were assessed using a modified version of the SALG course evaluation tool JMBEs 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.

Course material The four biological concepts assessed during this study chemical bonds, osmosis and diffusion, mitosis and meiosis, and DNA structure and replication were selected as topics for studying the effectiveness of case study teaching because they were the key concepts addressed by this particular course that were most likely to be taught in a number of other courses, including biology courses for both majors and nonmajors at outside institutions.

RESULTS Teaching with case studies improves performance on learning assessments, independent of case study origin To evaluate the effectiveness of the case study teaching method at promoting learning, student performance on examination questions related to material covered by case studies was compared with performance on questions that covered material addressed through classroom discussions and textbook reading.

Open in a separate window. Case study teaching increases student perception of learning gains related to core course objectives Student learning gains were assessed using a modified version of the SALG course evaluation tool Appendix 2. Student perceptions of learning gains resulting from case study teaching are positively correlated to increased performance on examinations, but independent of case study author To test the hypothesis that case studies produced specifically for this course by the instructor were more effective at promoting learning gains than topically relevant case studies published by authors not associated with this course, perceptions of learning gains were compared for each of the case studies.

TABLE 1. Anderson LW, Krathwohl D. Bonney KM. Diffusion and osmosis: from gummy bears to celery stalks. University of Buffalo. An argument and plan for promoting the teaching and learning of neglected tropical diseases. Beyond the lecture: case teaching and the learning of economic theory.

J Econ Educ.