Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Revising a Formal Case Study Presentation as an Independent Research Project

Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Revising a Formal Case Study Presentation as an Independent Research Project

Article excerpt

To satisfy the learning objectives of the senior seminar course and increase higher order thinking skills through inquiry-based pedagogy, I have required students in my senior seminar course to create and present the components of a case study presentation, including an original case study with questions, teaching notes, and an oral presentation of background for the case study.

Responses to case study questions are the foundation for group and class discussions, ranging from the introductory type (knowledge/comprehension--lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Development) to the challenging type (application, analysis, and synthesis--upper levels of Bloom's Taxonomy). Teaching notes, or the "instruction manual," describe how the case should be conducted in the classroom, with the topics and subtopics of the case study derived from factual information from the primary research literature. An oral presentation of background information, also extracted from research sources, is necessary for students to participate in the discussion of case study questions (Field, 2003; Herreid, 1997/1998; Herreid, 1999/2000; Herreid, 2000).

I have observed that certain presentations, based on unique interdisciplinary topics, were so well executed and enthusiastically received by the class that they deserved to be shared with the academic community that uses case studies. Although these presentations showed tremendous potential, they needed extensive revisions before they were worthy of submission for publication and national dissemination. The first student-created case study presentation I revised for publication (case study, case study questions, teaching notes) came from my senior seminar course in 2010, The Real Little Mermaid: Issues of the Congenital Anomaly Sirenomielia, and was eventually published as "Diagnosis of a Congenital Disorder" by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) on its website (Cobos, Williams, & Field, 2011).

After this experience, I realized that the research involved in revising the factual data of the teaching notes and case study (similar to a primary literature review for a research article) could be adapted into an independent research project (IRP) for an undergraduate student. Indeed, when students from my previous senior seminar classes were surveyed about the degree of research involved in the preparation for case study presentations, data revealed that students felt there was an equal amount of research for the case study presentation as a research paper in the traditional senior seminar (Field, 2005).

Selection of the case study presentation

The case study presentation selected for the initial IRP, "Under the Knife and Completely Aware: Anesthetic Awareness," was created by a partnership in the spring 2011 class. A historical case study, this case was based on an article from a West Virginia newspaper (Stanton, 2007) that reported the suicide of Sherman Sizemore, who experienced symptoms typical of posttraumatic stress disorder shortly after he had an exploratory laparotomy (abdominal surgery). He experienced terrible nightmares (being buried alive), paranoia (being left alone), depression, an inability to sleep, and mood swings so dramatic that he eventually killed himself. During the funeral, the family discovered from a doctor at the hospital that Sherman was awake during the first part of the surgery (a muscle relaxer was given but anesthetic was never turned on during inhalation) and that the deceased was never told he was awake during surgery (intraoperative awareness) or given an amnesic (to extinguish memory of the traumatic event).

The original case study questions were written for the debate style of discussion, in which the class was divided into three groups: two stakeholder groups that offer testimony and experience cross-examination during a court trial to assign guilt (including the anesthesiologist group that administered the anesthetic and the lead surgeon/hospital conducting the surgery) and a judge/jury. …

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