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Case Studies in Physics Teaching. ~ Based on the writings of Clyde Freeman Herreid, University at Buffalo, State University of NY ~. Case Study in Science. Discussion designed for an end. A powerful way of achieving otherwise elusive goals of science teaching:

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case studies in physics teaching

Case Studies in Physics Teaching

~ Based on the writings of Clyde Freeman Herreid, University at Buffalo, State University of NY ~

case study in science
Case Study in Science
  • Discussion designed for an end.
  • A powerful way of achieving otherwise elusive goals of science teaching:
    • Understanding the nature of scientific knowledge
    • Understanding the values of scientists
    • Understanding the assumptions of science
a case study
A Case Study
  • Starts with a narrative statement posing some sort of problem or dilemma that might or might not have a concise or acceptable solution.
  • Continues thorough a series of questions that require critical thinking and might not have any generally agree-upon solution.
conducting a case study
Conducting a Case Study
  • Case study is drive by an issue or a difficult question the solution of which might result in disagreement.
  • Assumes a strong ability to conduct successful classroom discussions.
  • Herreid gives 12-pointers for bringing a case study to a successful conclusion.
consider student preparation
Consider Student Preparation
  • Should you wish students to prepare for the discussion, provide them with the case before the discussion.
  • Background preparation might include such things as the following:
    • Contents from a prior class
    • Readings, including problem statement
    • Video or TV program
write a controversial case
Write a Controversial Case
  • Controversial cases more interesting
  • Keep the case current
  • Chose a case with relevance
  • Keep the case description short
  • Tell a story and include dialogue
  • Create empathy for main character
  • Case must have teaching function
set the scene for the case
Set the Scene for the Case
  • After reading the case to or with the students, don’t plunge right in to the first question.
  • Spend some time explaining the value of the case, it relevance, its implications, and applicability.
  • Set social ground rules for good behavior - not all know them.
pose a good initial question
Pose a Good Initial Question
  • Start by getting the facts of the case straight.
  • Make certain that the issue or dilemma is clearly understood by students.
  • Don’t ask for a conclusion at the outset; this will following only after a proper analysis of the case.
involve as many as possible
Involve as Many as Possible
  • The more involved the students, the greater the likelihood they will both learn and remember.
  • Ask questions of the uninvolved to get them involved.
  • Use wait time appropriately.
  • Restate question or rephrase it as appropriate, but do not answer it.
ask non threatening q s
Ask Non-threatening Q’s
  • Use “easy” questions to draw reticent students into the discussion.
  • Avoid intimidation and derisive statements in response to student statement.
  • Avoid letting students attack one another - attack ideas, not people.
  • Restate rules of behavior as needed.
control the discussion
Control the Discussion
  • Don’t let individuals dominate.
  • Keep the discussion on track.
  • Recite the key question periodically.
  • Use wait time appropriately.
  • See “How to Conduct a Discussion” - check out the PHY 310 syllabus.
write key points on board
Write Key Points on Board
  • Emphasize key issues and concerns.
  • Give importance to what students have been saying.
  • Shows progress of the discussion.
  • Provides a sense of structure.
correct factual errors
Correct Factual Errors
  • If students do not correct errors of fact, the the discussion leader should see that they are corrected.
  • Best to point out contradictory evidence and let students draw their own conclusion.
  • Otherwise, point out confusion that you have as an instructor.
  • Opinions should not be “corrected.”
structure the discussion
Structure the Discussion
  • Sequence student thinking.
  • Use focusing behavior as you ask your questions; avoid the use of funneling behavior.
  • Move from divergent to convergent questions.
  • Align questions to objectives.
  • Manage time effectively.
non random movement
Non-random Movement
  • Body language can have an effect on a discussion.
  • Find a “center” other than the teacher.
  • Consider sitting down to “level the playing field” a bit.
  • Acknowledge student contributions.
  • Pay attention to what is being said.
achieving closure
Achieving Closure
  • To achieve or not to achieve closure, that is the question.
  • Pros of closure:
    • Students might not draw conclusions
    • Leader can summarize process
  • Cons of closure:
    • Students continue to discuss
    • Non-closure more closely imitates life.
practical application
Practical Application
  • Always have several case studies at the ready in the event that you have unplanned time and need a filler.
  • Be certain to include case studies in your formal assessments.