Learner Resources

  "One of the greatest challenges in biology is to frame appropriate and productive questions that can be pursued by the technology at hand. You have probably had a great deal of experience in solving pre-posed problems, such as those found at the end of textbook chapters. However, if you were asked to go into a lab or out in a field and pose a research question, you will find that this is often difficult to do without some practice...."

(The BioQUEST Library IV: A Note to the Student 1996)

Educational approaches are constantly revised. These "new" methods of teaching and learning enable us to deal with the objectives each generation feels are essential for their learners. The case study approach is a method of providing students with an opportunity to use stories of people dealing with science-based issues (i.e., the cases) as a way to structure their own learning. The cases provided here are specially designed to serve as springboards to student-designed investigations. Case-based learning is student-centered. Working with a teacher-provided case, students determine issues they wish to pursue, and then use a wide variety of approaches and resources for learning.

This approach to learning biology may feel awkward at first since it is different from more highly structured ways to learn. Although the general area of biology under investigation is defined by the case, you generate the questions which will define your own topic of study. You will find yourself posing problems, trying to solve them, and presenting conclusions that represent your own findings to others. Your instructor as well as your classmates are collaborators in this process.

You may find yourself working in a group. This is an excellent way to begin exploring biology since scientific investigations necessarily involve similar group dynamics. Even if you are not planning on becoming a scientist yourself, it is nevertheless essential for you to develop a familairity about the way scientists work in order to better understand biological issues that affect you as a global citizen.

 

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