SCN Poster Session

ASMCUE: Twenty Years of Vision, Change and Leadership

 Go Global with Cases: Internationalize the Curriculum

GoGlobalPosterImageEthel Stanley, BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium  and Margaret Waterman, Southeast Missouri State University

How can the use of cases help students achieve cross cultural literacy and global awareness? This poster features case modules that extend case based learning experiences by incorporating issues, data, and tools that facilitate global connections such as:

    1. using both US and non-US resources
    2. including characters or settings that lie outside the range of your  majority learners’ experiences
    3. selecting data that is accessible in spite of language barriers
    4. decision-making that explores global as well as local contexts
    5. generating the need to explore social and political impacts as part of  addressing the issue


Interactive Poster on Networking: Add Your Insights on Developing, Assessing, and Learning with Cases


Margaret Waterman, Southeast Missouri State University  and Ethel Stanley, BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium

Please share your ideas and recommendations for enhancing the outreach of the Science Case Network. We know from published studies that students learn as much content while they learn additional skills in communication and research that they don’t learn in traditional teaching. Further we know that these pedagogies work well with everyone, including minorities and women. But many of our colleagues still don’t know about the use cases and PBL in undergraduate science education. How can we engage faculty from MSIs, community college, HSIs, tribal institutions, teachers of large classes, as well as minority faculty, future faculty and graduate students in learning and using these effective methods? What projects, products, issues and strategies have been defined? What else might SCN do?

Case It Molecular Biology Simulations for Case Based Learning in Biology

CASEITMark Bergland and Karen Klyczek, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Case It is used by students to analyze cases involving the use of molecular biology techniques. The software will perform a variety of laboratory procedures on any DNA or protein sequence including electrophoresis, PCR, blotting, ELISA, and SNP and expression microarray, and can be integrated with MEGA software for bioinformatics analyses. There are a variety of cases available at, including genetic and infectious diseases, cancer, and honey bee health.


Investigative Case Based Learning in Singapore: Encouraging 21st Century Skills

ICBLSgMargaret Waterman, Southeast Missouri State University, Ethel Stanley, BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium  and Darren Wong, National Institute of Education, Singapore

In 2010, the Ministry of Education in Singapore introduced the 21 st Century Competencies that include developing:

    • global awareness and cross cultural skills,
    • creative and inventive thinking, and
    • communication and information technology skills

More than 150 Singapore teachers from upper primary, lower secondary, and junior college have participated in two-day workshops on investigative case based learning. They have been using cases, identifying resources, and developing their own case modules for their students. This poster presents three investigative cases and how they align with the 21st century competencies as well as address literacy issues across cultures.


Case Studies on Facebook: Adapting the Case Study Method for Digital Natives

Jennifer Kovacs, Megan Cole, Kyndra Stovall, Gene McGinnis, Mark Lee, and Aditi Pai, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

Case studies are clearly a highly effective pedagogical method that successfully engage students as well as promote their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The traditional case study is typically delivered through text that students have to read. However, the typical students today are ‘digital natives’ that are more likely to use digital tools such as social networking sites. Here we describe the use of the social networking site Facebook for three case studies on women in sciences. We did three case studies on the theme of ‘gender gap and women in sciences. Each of these cases were run in one or two class periods using a combination of standard case study method formats such as PowerPoints and readings. In addition we used digital storytelling techniques using PhotoStory and Facebook to ensure a better discussion of the cases. We employed several features of Facebook for case study teaching including the three main ones being: 1) sharing articles, videos, photos via ‘posts’; 2) monitoring discussion by looking at  ‘comments’, ‘likes’ and ‘views’ of case study topics posts, and 3) the ‘survey’ feature to poll students and to ‘prime’ them for class. We concluded that Facebook was an effective tool for holding discussions on case studies.


Video Cases: Adapting the Case Study Method for Digital Natives

Gene McGinnis, Mark Lee, and Aditi Pai, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

A typical college or high-school student today is often described as a ‘digital native’. These students are more comfortable in the ‘digital world’ and prefer multi-media delivery of materials in contrast to the older generation of ‘digital immigrants’ that prefer text based delivery methods. Thus, video cases are particularly well-suited to the new generation of students. Here we describe a case study which follows the ‘interrupted case method’ with videos. This case study titled, “Arsenic in apple juice” focuses on question of safe levels of arsenic in apple juice. The students are first shown a video from the popular Dr. Oz show that highlights the problem of arsenic in apple juice and informs parents in the audience that they are in fact ‘poisoning’ their children. Students are asked to note key facts and questions on the video. The second video was a scenario showing two young children and their father discussing whether apple juice was a healthy choice for them. The third and fourth videos are segments from television news broadcasts at two different points of time that investigate the claims made by the Dr. Oz show with quantitative information on levels of arsenic, safety standards, and frequency of samples that violate safety standards.


Engaging Students in Phylogenetic Analysis of Microbial Communities

Rafael Tosado-Acevedo and Filipa Godoy-Vitorino  Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus

The main objective of this project is to develop educational tools to engage undergraduate students in phylogenetic analyses of microbial communities through 16S rDNA sequence analysis in a variety of case settings related to Microbial Ecology.  Many undergraduates, especially in minority institutions such as ours, find it hard to interpret phylogenic trees and seldom get an opportunity to analyze DNA sequence data outside of the molecular biology course.

We also want to change the misconception that Microbial Ecology relates only to Environmental Microbiology but rather can be applied to a wide variety of ecosystems ranging from forest soils to the human gut.  We use freely available web-based tools and databases including NCBI, Greengenes, SILVA and to obtain the necessary sequence data as well as for building and analyzing a phylogenic tree.  Some of the cases developed include commensal relationships between gut bacteria in different herbivore systems as well as soil and rhizosphere microbes.


Smallpox Outbreak!  Planning a Response to an Act of Bioterrorism

SmallPoxBraunEdward Braun, Dept. of Plant Pathology & Microbiology, Iowa State University

Students in a large non-majors microbiology course participate in a simulation of a bioterrorism attack involving smallpox virus.  Student groups are charged with the responsibility of developing a plan for responding to a widespread smallpox outbreak.  They determine the key questions that need to be answered, then seek out and share information needed to answer these question.  The groups then come together and discuss the key elements needed for a successful response to an intentional release of the smallpox virus.


The Development of a New Interdisciplinary Capstone in Biology

Laurie Caslake, Robert Kurt, and Nancy Waters  Biology Department, Lafayette College

This fall, we will pilot a new Capstone course for Biology majors.  The course represents a culminating experience in which seniors integrate and reflect on their learning.  Using malaria as a theme, we will target three of the five Big Ideas in Biology (evolution; structure and function of biological molecules; information flow, exchange, and storage; pathways and transformations of energy and matter; and systems biology – Vision & Change, 2009).  We intend to use a team-based and case-based approach in the classroom.


PULSE: Widespread Implementation of Vision and Change Recommendations

Karen Klyczek, University of Wisconsin-River Falls and PULSE

The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE) is a program supported by NSF, HHMI, and NIH to develop strategies for facilitating the implementation of Vision and Change recommendations at the department level. A group of 40 faculty have been working since October 2012 to develop resources for departments. These products include faculty development materials, departmental visits, and self study and strategic planning tools. Several workshops and conferences will be held during the next year to establish regional networks to support widespread change in life science departments.


Integrating Ethics into Science Case Studies


Pamela A. Marshall, Arizona State University

I teach an upper level writing course, Genes, Race, Gender, and Society, designed for Life Science majors.  Students first work through the topical case study and then are challenged to rethink their responses through the lenses of ethics, taking into account different ethical frameworks such as care ethics, Kantian ethics, utilitarian ethics, and virtue ethics.  Students then develop their own case study, integrating ethical components.  I want to expose my students to this way of thinking because I see technology being driven by the Jurassic Park phenomenon “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” and want future physicians grounded in a sense of how their actions relate to the greater good.


Effects of Implementing Problem-Based Learning Activities in an Undergraduate Setting

ReviewLauren M. Dahlquist and Christine E. Cutucache, Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE

The major goals of problem-based learning (PBL) activities include improvement of social skills, increased aptitude, mastery and retention of information. Although we are aware of the potential benefits of PBL activities, few studies of the effectiveness of including PBL activities at the undergraduate level have been conducted. We evaluated student comprehension of material using pre- and post-tests to discern whether information from PBL activities was more quickly understood compared with didactic lecture (n=91; IRB#548-12-EX). Furthermore, we examined the changes in student communication skills during PBL activities. Lastly, students completed a survey using a Likert scale to determine the usefulness of PBL activities in the undergraduate classroom. Our results indicated that students who participate in PBL exercises have:

i.)  a greater mastery of the material based on a significant improvement in post-test scores,

ii.)  improvement in communication skills, and

iii.)  a stronger ability to articulate answers more completely when evaluated.

In conclusion, the use of PBL in the undergraduate classroom favors increased understanding and retention of material. Based on these results, we suggest PBLs become commonplace as an improvement in science pedagogy in the undergraduate classroom.


Utilizing Case-Based Learning in a Summer Pre-freshman Bridge Program to Impact STEM Retention Rates

Lisa Hayes, Drew Kohlhorst and Patricia Marsteller,  Emory University

We used nine case studies ranging in topics from chemical bonding to microbiology. Use of case studies increased student confidence in reading and interpreting relevant scientific literature and increased belief in team study as well as understanding of concepts and confidence in ability to assess the validity of scientific evidence. Scores on a test of science literacy increased. Best of all student concept maps displayed increased understanding of the connections between science and mathematics subject areas.


Cases OnLine: Creating Active Student Engagement in the Sciences

Jordan Rose and Pat Marsteller, Emory University

CASES Online is a collection of investigative lessons, or “cases,” for K-12 and undergraduate science education. Using principles of Problem-Based Learning and Investigative Case-Based Learning (and related student-centered pedagogies), our cases are designed to engage students in exploring the science behind real-world problems. Our cases address a variety of learning objectives across the sciences and mathematics. Although our K-12 cases were designed for use in Georgia and meet our state education standards, we have also included the relevant National Science Education Standards.


iBiology Online Discovery Tools: Integrating Primary Literature with Video-Based Narratives

Laurence Clement (1), Sarah Goodwin (1), Karen Dell (1), Ron Vale (2)

(1) iBiology Project, The American Society for Cell Biology  and (2) University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

iBiology is an NSF, NIGMS and HHMI-funded project out of the University of California at San Francisco and the American Society for Cell Biology, which was launched in 2007 and offers free, open-access videos by scientists on different scientific topics (now iBioSeminars: and iBioMagazine: Here, we present a set of materials developed for educators and targeting upper-division undergraduate biology students, which will be made available this summer when we launch the iBiology website. Each set of materials includes: (1) a 10-15 minute iBioMagazine video by a scientist describing a key discovery in the field of biology, (2) the corresponding peer-reviewed scientific paper(s) describing the discovery, and (3) a series of multiple-choice and open-ended assessment questions to be used by educators. Our goals here are to (a) learn from the breadth of experience and knowledge of the PBL community to improve our educational materials, (b) collect feedback from SCN faculty on these iBio “Discovery” tools, and (c) assess the need for new video-based educational tools that would integrate PBL principles.


Promoting Excellence in STEM Education at the Community College Through Course Integrated Inquiry-Based Learning and Undergraduate Research

Ashley Hagler, Gaston College

STEM faculty recognized the need to involve students more actively in learning process in order to prepare and motivate students to continue their journey in the STEM fields. Division faculty committed to change educational practices in STEM classes and encourage students to engage in independent undergraduate research. Therefore a plan was implemented to focus on inquiry-based learning and course-integrated undergraduate research experiences, as well as the development of faculty expertise. This presentation will outline this Gaston College initiative.


Do iPads and/or Challenge Based Learning Affect the Level of Achievement in a Biochemistry Capstone Course?


Scott E. Gabriel and Gretel L. Stock-Kupperman, Viterbo University La Crosse, WI

In 2011, Advanced Biochemistry, a senior capstone course for biochemistry majors was first offered focusing on students’ ability to access and use primary literature. Despite engaging conversation and excellent student presentations, course evaluations were lower than usual (3.65/5 compared to 4.3/5 from my previous semester).  Notwithstanding, the evaluation of the instructor was equivalent to historical results.  In an effort to improve the course, a challenge based learning (CBL) design was used in 2012 by framing the course around four big questions relevant to our local community and world. In addition to this change, iPads were introduced halfway through the semester. These changes were made to test two interrelated hypotheses: first, that a CBL course design would increase student engagement in the course and therefore their achievement of learning outcomes and second that the use of technology in this design (iPads) would increase student connectivity and result in a further increase in achievement and course satisfaction.


Rett Syndrome: An Island of Hope

Christy MacKinnon, University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX

Rett Syndrome is a dominant X-linked developmental disorder that primarily affects females.  Rett Syndrome is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. The MCEP2 protein binds to methylated CpG  “islands” and functions to regulate gene expression.  The genetics of Rett Syndrome allows for examination of the concepts of epigenetics, penetrance, expressivity, and pleiotrophy.  Animal models have shown that Rett symptoms can be reversed by bone marrow transplants. Ethical issues of expediting clinical trials for bone marrow transplants to treat Rett patients are also explored.


We Are On Your Case: Using Case Studies to Enhance Writing and Critical Thinking in Science Classrooms at a Historically Black University

D. Jordan (1), K. Bibb (1), S. Saldanha (1), & S. M. Jordan (2)

(1) Dept. of Mathematics and Science1 and Dept. of Humanities  and (2) Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama 36101

Case Studies are an excellent way to engage students in critical thinking and writing in biology and writing classes.  Three instructors have been using case studies as a means of incorporating writing into the biology classes and encouraging critical thinking.  Each instructor has a different  approach of administering the case study to their specific class: one uses prepared case studies and refines them to a particular subject as an in-class activity; one uses prepared case studies as an out-of-class activity; and one uses on-line case studies.  The English instructor offers advice on enhancing  writing in the classroom using case studies.  Initial student feedback indicates that students in all classes enjoy the case study as an interactive activity.  We are seeking advice from this symposium on how to develop our own case studies and how to more effectively utilize case studies as an active learning and teaching method.


Comparison of Individual versus Group Case Study Assignments

Cuc Kim Vu, University of St. Catherine

This poster compares student performance and comfort with individual versus group case studies assigned in General Microbiology for Associated Degree Nursing students.  In previous years I have assigned individual case studies and notice that students struggle since it is usually the first time that they have to research, critically analyze and compile a paper.  This past summer I designed a new case study assignment that has students completing one case study as a group followed by two individual case studies.  I am comparing student performance and comfort of individual versus group case study assignments.

Undergraduate Student Investigations With the Plasmodium Problem Space


Sam Donovan, University of Pittsburgh and Zachary Batz, University of Maine

The Plasmodium Problem Space is a user-friendly information space where molecular sequence data collected from malaria-causing parasites infecting apes throughout Central Africa provides opportunities for student research. The problem space acts as scaffolding within which students can explore a variety of ecological, systemic, evolutionary, and molecular questions using actual data. Recently, introductory level biology students at the University of Pittsburgh worked in groups to generate novel research questions and address those questions using the tools, information, and datasets collected in the problem space. This one-day, in-class activity resulted in investigations with a surprising level of curiosity and insight suggesting that problem spaces can be used with great success even in large classes on tight schedules.


Introducing the Science Case Network


SCN Steering Committee

The Science Case Network (SCN) brings together faculty and researchers who develop, use, and assess case studies, PBL and Investigative Cases. SCN is a growing network. We have had special interest groups form, teaching with cases and PBL modules shared, and new projects added.  The SCN website supports the initiation of conversations between projects, invites dissemination of new findings, provides information on using cases, provides calendar links to workshops and presentations, and creates access to workshop resources. SCN serves as a hub for science faculty members interested in case based learning and invites researchers to connect.

Zombie Outbreak: Case-driven and Flipped  


 John A. Staley, Ph.D. and Christopher J. Woolverton, Ph.D.  College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH

Recent natural and man-made disaster events such as Hurricane Katrina, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and Hurricane Sandy demonstrate the critical importance and implications of understanding how the Public Health System prepares for, and responds to disaster and emergency events.

Using current, popular cultural interest in the “zombie apocalypse”, we developed and implemented an innovative and novel college course based on a hypothetical zombie outbreak with the university campus as “ground zero”.

Alligators, Shrinking Penises, and Other Important Matters: A “Clicker Case’” about Quantitative Reasoning Skills

Mark Lee, Gene McGinnis, and Aditi Pai, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

This is a “clicker case” on environmental toxins focusing on developing quantitative reasoning. It describes the finding that alligators in Florida are turning up with shrunken or deformed sex glands, as are fish in the Great Lakes and off the coast of England, as well as birds in California. It points to the fact that these problems have been tentatively traced (some scientists say conclusively) to hormone compounds in wastewater or to synthetic endocrine disrupters in pesticides and other industrial chemicals that mimic natural hormones. Students are shown data about alligator penis sizes from various environments and asked to determine whether the evidence supports the idea that hormone compounds and synthetic endocrine disrupters are to blame for the differences in penis sizes. They are then asked to answer the question whether humans are also at risk from environmental toxins?

Case-Based Approach to Faculty Development for Vision and Change in STEM Education

Beverly Smith-Keiling, University of Maryland University College-Europe

As faculty who have navigated the system and succeeded in our fields, many of us have followed the traditional methods we learned as students—lecture and reading. However successful some may be, many of our peers as students may not have succeeded in the traditional system, and many may not have continued in science. This is one issue we are faced with now in trying to use new methods to educate and retain diverse learners. One of the challenges in STEM education has been to figure out what works, and change education to meet the needs of students, but another challenge has been to convince traditional faculty of the need to change, and also to equip them with new strategies that work.

Rather than continue to force change, promoting faculty discovery may be the trick. Since science faculty themselves are discovery-based learners, why not use this approach to facilitate the discovery and analysis of the data in educational research, so that faculty themselves solve a problem and draw conclusions about new ways to teach? How can we use an active-learning case-based approach in faculty development to inform, convince, and teach traditional faculty of the educational research, the need for change, and the methods that could be adopted?

The aim of this poster session is to try an active-learning, case-based approach, and together, develop a method which could be used across STEM. As we examine questions of the story, the hook, the problem, the terminology, the data, and other components of a case-study, we will interact and pool our ideas as we develop a case-study approach to use with faculty at our home institutions.


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