Case studies to engage undergraduates in a non

Using Cases to Bring
Active Learning Into
Your Classroom
Eileen Underwood, PhD
Bowling Green State University
November 2013
The Purpose
• Help students get excited about what they
are learning
• Relate content to real life situations
• Give students time to apply what they are
learning by giving them time to think about
applications and situations
• Achieve student learning outcomes in
addition to critical thinking, such as
interpreting data and graphs
The setting
My experience is with:
• Large lecture hall – stadium seating
• 50-210 students
• (can also be used in smaller classes)
• Use with “clicker” system
• (either with clickers or through show of fingers)
• Trial use of undergraduate learning assistants (LAs)
• Case studies done in groups
• Assign student groups of ~6
• Each LA is interacts with ~5 groups
• In large lecture hall every 5th row empty – allow
instructor/LAs access to students sitting in center
• One activity or case study per test unit
• (5 per semester)
Case studies as an engagement
or extension activity
• 5 E learning cycle (Bybee)
• Engage*
• Explore
• Explain
• Extend*
• Evaluate
• Rodger Bybee, Achieving Scientific Literacy: From Purposes to Practices.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997, pp. 176-185
Case studies
• The mission of the National Center for Case
Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) is to
promote the nationwide application of active
learning techniques to the teaching of
science, with a particular emphasis on case
studies and problem-based learning.
Biology for a Changing World,
Shuster et al.
Story-line approach fits well with use of case study:
2 examples that I use:
Forensics case study (following Ch7, DNA structure &
replication – DNA profiling)
The Case of the Druid Dracula
By Peggy Brickman
Cancer case study (following Ch10 Mutations & Cancer)
But I’m too young! A case study of ovarian cancer
By Nancy Rice & Bruno Borsari
• Formative
• If using for credit – award credit for best effort
• Allow make-up opportunities if using for grade?
• Summative
Pre / Post Assessment Questions for
“But I’m Too Young! A Case Study of Ovarian Cancer”
• Found in the answer key section of the web-site
Additional sources
• Includes links to other case collections
• But beware – looking through case studies can
be time consuming and habit formingļŠ
Getting started : planning
• Must be willing to “wing it” if necessary
• Plan out timing (but be willing to be flexible)
• Many case studies have suggested timeline in teacher notes
• Keep teaching journal (what worked, what didn’t, what
changes should be used next time)
Potential concerns:
may apply to all active learning strategies
• Takes time away from lecture
• Only use a few (2-5) per semester
• Use “mini-case studies”
• Scale down – take less time
• Loss of control of classroom
• In large lecture may feel like herding cats to bring class
back to topic
• Chose group to report out – jar of numbered PingPong balls
• Smaller class – toss beach ball
• Some students may complain professor not
• Other concerns?
Adaptations for use in other
class settings
• Smaller classes
• students can become more involved
• clicker questions can be rewritten as open
ended questions.
• Are any of you using case studies?
• Do you have suggestions to encourage use of
case studies?
• Have any of you developed your own case