This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Faculty Workshop: Implementing Investigative Cases and Technology in Biology and Chemistry at Center for Science Education in August 2004. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

Upcoming events                Investigative Cases

Investigative Cases
The Case: The vitamin A dilemma

Aram and Lilly, second year medical students, are preparing a presentation on vitamins that they will deliver to their class the next day. Lilly decides to focus on the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency as well as its prevention and treatment. Aram then suggests that they compare these topics as they apply in the US to parts of the world where white rice is a dietary staple. Lilly wants to know why he wants to make more work for themselves.

Case Author:
Victoria Finnerty Emory University:Center for Science Education

Case Analysis

1. malnutrition 2. vitamin deficiencies 3. biochemical role of vitamin A 4. remedial diets 5. dietary preferences based on culture

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


Skills: Finding and use of information from the Internet. Discernment/judgement as to possible bias, factual ommissions in information. Knowledge: What are the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency How prevalent is it in the US and rice dependent cultures? What is golden rice and why was it developed Does golden rice live up to its stated potential? Why, Why not? The green revolution and rice dependent cultures (monoculture and world hunger) Remedies for vitamin A deficiency Can the symptoms of vitamin A deficiency be reversed in children or teens and adults? What might have prompted AstraZeneca to create golden rice? Attitudes: assess the effects of (non-local) political decisions on the world community



Investigations and Activities

At first, the cases are read in class. I may ask each of the 2 tutors read a case, and the instructor does the other case(s). The students (all or group?) do a case analysis. I (or TAs who read the case) will write or type the points raised by the case analysis, which will be posted on LL. The students will be asked to generate a know/need to know chart for their subtopic. Students may use the web to generate 1 or 2 poster panels, (including web sources) in powerpoint on the chosen sub-topic. The groups assemble their panels into a powerpoint poster on their case to be presented to the entire class at the next class. The presenter can be one or more students. Previously the students will have had in class the Altoids case so they will be familiar with case analysis and the know/need to know list.



There is a great deal of information on this topic on the web, and I want the students to be exposed to the variety of viewpoints on golden rice that they encounter.

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items


Student Products

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

Grading will be done by the tutors based on an assessment sheet that the students will see ahead of time (posted on LL). A relatively few points will be assigned for this exercise. On the next exam, the students will be asked to write a summary paragraph on their topic, specifically for high school teachers, to interest them in adapting this case for their own use. The exam question will be assigned credit based on the lecture time it occupies.



For this class of ~ 120 students two additional cases will be used, so each student will be part of a small group.

Course name:
Biology 141, Cell and Developmental Biology
Likely sequence in syllabus:
Campbell's chapter on DNA technology
Time during term:
~ 75 minutes total
lecture section
Students in course:
~120 per section
Collaborative elements:
Additional notes:



ICBL Home              Back to list of investigative cases

Copyright 2009, Investigative Cased Based Learning Project