Case-based learning in International Baccalaureate® biology

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


This classroom research study investigated the effect of case-based learning on student's problem-solving skills in a senior International Baccalaureate® biology class. Students participated in two nontreatment (evolution and the immune system) and two treatment units (the respiratory and circulatory systems). Prior to the start of the investigation, students completed a Problem-Solving Self-Perceptions Survey. This survey was completed at the end of the investigation as well. At the start of each unit, students completed a problem-solving assessment with questions related to the content of the unit. Students completed another problem-solving assessment at the end of the unit as part of the end of unit exam. Students were also interviewed about their problem-solving experience and approach before and after the study. Data collected from the Problem-Solving Self-Perceptions Survey were analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. Student performance on the pre- and post-unit problem-solving assessments were evaluated using normalized gains. Both analysis tools failed to show a statistically significant difference between the treatment and nontreatment. These results suggest that using case-based learning in the classroom does not significantly improve student's problem-solving skills. However, student's expressed greater interest in studying real-life problems and students were observed to be more engaged in the learning activities and the small group collaboration.




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