(The FASEB Journal. 2007;21:479.7)
Faculty design of open-ended and closed-ended case studies
Leslie M Nesbitt and William H Cliff
Biology, Niagara University, Lewiston Road, Lewiston, NY, 14109
Open-ended or closed-ended case study design schemes offer different educational advantages. Anatomy and physiology instructors who attended a conference workshop were given an identical case story about blood doping and asked to build either an open-ended or closed-ended study. Faculty-written learning objectives and case questions were compared and the questions were examined to determine whether they satisfied criteria for open- or closed-endedness. Many of the faculty-written learning objectives were not well matched with the case questions, and faculty had differing success writing suitable case questions. Faculty were more successful in creating closed-ended questions than open-ended ones. 88% of the questions produced by faculty assigned to write closed-ended questions were considered closed-ended (n=51 total questions), whereas only 43% of the questions produced by faculty assigned to write open-ended questions were deemed open-ended (n=30 total). Our findings indicate that, despite the fact that instructors of anatomy and physiology recognize the value of open-ended questions, they have greater difficulty in creating them. Inexperience may contribute to the low rate of success in creating open-ended questions. We conclude that faculty should pay careful attention as they craft open-ended case questions if they want to ensure that students are actually prompted to use and improve their higher order thinking skills.