Cliff case-based learning

(The FASEB Journal. 2006;20:A846)

Students endorse case-based learning in human anatomy and physiology

William H. Cliff>
Biology, Niagara University, Lewiston Road, Niagara University, New York, 14109

How students view the effectiveness of classroom instruction influences both cognitive and affective dimensions of learning. Student viewpoints about case-based learning (CBL) were obtained over a 10 year period in a course in human anatomy and physiology (HAP) where case study analysis was a regular means of learning (n=404 students). Student attitudes were measured on a twelve item survey where the degree of student agreement or disagreement with each item was expressed on a Likert scale. Approximately 80% of students consistently agreed that case study analysis made it easier to learn HAP and deepened or solidified their understanding. 68% agreed that CBL helped them overcome misconceptions in HAP, although this percentage varied considerably from year to year. 79% students consistently agreed that case study analysis made them see the relevance of learning HAP and 74% students agreed that case studies made them curious to learn more advanced concepts in HAP. A high percentage of students consistently found solving the case studies to be challenging (93%) whereas a lower and more variable percentage of students (49%) found the process to be fun. Overall, 84% of students concluded solving case studies was a useful way of learning HAP. These results indicate that students value CBL as a means for facilitating and motivating learning. Together with results that document the performance enhancing effects of CBL, these findings suggest that CBL offers both cognitive and affective benefits to the learning of HAP. Adopting active learning strategies such as case-based learning is an effective means for engaging and promoting student learning.

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