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SoTL presentation

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Problem:  Students have difficulty integrating concepts and developing a systems-approach in physiology.

Questions: Does the incorporation of cases encourage the development of integrative thinking in physiology?  Does the delivery format affect the level of questions that students generate?  Do students integrate concepts in physiology better when they have the ability to generate their own questions?

Audience:  Physiology educators who are interested in identifying strategies that encourage students to integrate concepts in physiology.

 Previous work:     

This past year, I participated in a "clicker case study" with Kipp Herreid.  While I was developing clicker cases for my introductory Biology class, I also started using cases in my upper level physiology class.  In the physiology class, students enjoyed the case studies and asked me "can you make up another case study?"  Here is one example...

Cardiovascular case study

A 32 year old man suddenly began to experience acute attacks of headache, profuse sweating, tachycardia and palpitations on numerous occasions during the past 2 months. He also had bouts of constipation, abdominal pain, and dyspnea. In spite of an increased appetite he was losing weight and was becoming increasingly nervous and irritable. He had previously consulted a physician regarding his problems who treated him for hypertension with clonidine without any response.

Urinalysis and plasma analysis revealed moderately elevated catecholamines (e.g. epinephrine and norepinephrine) and related metabolites (2,000 pg/ml). Administration of clonidine had no effect on plasma norepinephrine levels (clonidine suppression test). Biochemical analysis showed hyperglycemia. CT scan and MRI demonstrated a localized abdominal mass at the cranial pole of the left kidney.

 1    1)Provide a potential diagnosis for this patient based on the signs and symptoms.Explain how the symptoms fit your diagnosis.

2     2) What is clonidine and why was it ineffective?

 3)Based on your diagnosis, identify 2 pharmacological treatments that would benefit this patient and why?


Design:  The instructor will develop 6-8 cases that relate to the course content.  Case delivery will alternate between the in-class and the online format.  In the beginning of the semester, students will generate questions and the instructor will serve as a facilitator to help design appropriate questions.  As the semester proceeds, the instructor will give students the freedom to generate their own questions. Exam questions will be developed that reflect the case content and applied questions will be written that make use of the physiology content gleaned from the case.  The students will reflect on their case-based learning by responding to questions such as:

1) What did you learn from the case?

2) How did the case relate to the course content?

3) How did the case extend your understanding of physiology?

4) Did the case encourage you to investigate other areas?



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