National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
Although the case method has been used for years to teach law, business, and medicine, it is not common in science. Yet the use of case studies holds great promise as a pedagogical technique for teaching science, particularly to undergraduates, because it humanizes science and well illustrates scientific methodology and values. It develops students' skills in group learning, speaking, and critical thinking, and since many of the best cases are based on contemporary and often contentious science problems that students encounter in the news (such as human cloning), the use of cases in the classroom makes science relevant.
The University at Buffalo has been experimenting with case studies in science courses for over 15 years. They have found the method to be amazingly flexible. It has been used as the core of entire courses such as Scientific Inquiry or for single experiences in otherwise traditional lecture and lab courses. Cases dealing with cold fusion, AIDS, acid rain, ozone depletion, and toxic waste disposal have been used with undergraduates, graduates, and students in professional schools. A case on cystic fibrosis has been used in small laboratory sections run by teaching assistants and a case on the spotted owl has been employed in a large class of over 400 students. In our experience, students exposed to the case method have been extraordinarily excited and actively involved in their learning.The aim of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science is to promote the development and dissemination of innovative materials and sound educational practices for case teaching in the sciences. Our website provides access to an award-winning library of case materials and we offer a variety of opportunities, including a five-day summer workshop and two-day fall conference, for science faculty to receive training in the method. Our work has been supported over the years by the National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S. Department of Education.
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- Higher Education -- Undergraduate (Upper Division)