A Master Educator: Making a case for case studies

Tremendously beneficial: As a 2014 recipient of ASPB’s Master Educator Program (MEP) award, I received funding to attend the National Case Studies 2015 summer workshop in Buffalo, NY. Prior to attending the workshop I had used a few case studies in my classes but attending the workshop was tremendously beneficial because it examined the structure of case studies, how case studies improve student learning and how to assess student learning when using case studies. The attendees also participated – as students – in several different types of case studies led by the workshop facilitator, Clyde ‘Kipp’ Herreid. These sessions demonstrated how to effectively run case studies and allowed the attendees to experience case studies from a student’s perspective. Finally, as part of the workshop, each attendee prepared and taught a case study to a classroom of SUNY Buffalo students. The feedback that I received from the students and other workshop attendees regarding the presentation of my case study was invaluable.

Highly recommended: After attending the case study workshop, I will not only use more case studies in my classes but I have a better understanding of how to effectively use case studies to promote active learning in the classroom. I highly recommend the case study workshop to any instructor. It is a valuable option for those considering using case studies and haven’t yet done so as well as those who have already used case studies in the classroom and are seeking to improve or expand on their technique. For those instructors who are looking for published case studies, The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science has numerous case studies freely available.

MEP pic PhelpsDurr for July 2015 blogModelling excellence:  As an attendee of the case study workshop, I am expected to write and submit a case study for publication. This aligns directly with ASPB’s Master Educator Program goals as well. Since I am interested in incorporating computational molecular modeling into my own courses, I plan to write a case study that focuses on plant development, protein structure and molecular modeling. At Radford University, I teach Genetics to sophomore Biology majors. In my teaching experiences, students have tremendous difficulty understanding the relationship between DNA sequence, protein structure/function and phenotype. I use molecular modeling software to help students visualize the three-dimensional (3D) structure of proteins. Using this software, students can manipulate 3D images of proteins and explore how the 3D structure of proteins is important for proper function. To further help students visualize the 3D nature of proteins, the 3D models generated in the molecular modeling software can be printed in 3D. I look forward to discussing my MEP experiences and presenting the classroom activities that I design as part of this award at Plant Biology 2016 in Austin, TX.

Photo caption: Tara shares a 3D printed model of one of the proteins she made with the modeling software.

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