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A Chat with the Survey Monkey: Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom

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Journal of College Science Teaching Volume 44, Number 1, ISSN 0047-231X


This article discusses the results of a survey that was posted for those who regularly peruse the website of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). Faculty members were asked about their use of case studies and videos in their General Biology classrooms. The results are enlightening because General Biology is arguably the course most commonly taught to students in high schools and college, and the flipped classroom is the hottest ticket in town. A successful grant proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation, making the argument that case study teaching is now one of the favorite methods of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers because it engages students with real-world problems. It promises to help overcome the disenchantment found in 60% of the STEM students who choose to leave the disciplines. One of the major innovations in the college STEM classroom developed to help correct this situation is case-based learning (Herreid, 1994), which teaches scientific content, concepts, and skills in a real world, problem-solving context that provides the kind of active, student centered learning called for in Vision and Change (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011). In fact, Gates and Mirkin recommended that the "federal government catalyze widespread adoption of active learning approaches using case studies, problem-based learning, peer instruction, and computer simulations" (p. 1545). As much as case studies are favored, there are some critics who have argued that it uses too much class time. Faculty who are concerned with the coverage issue say they can't afford to turn over a class to a case study because they won't be able to get through the material that they believe is essential or is mandated, and that is where the flipped classroom comes in. The classical flipped approach advocates that teachers give the students homework that covers the essential material habitually presented in lecture, then when class time rolls around, the teacher has time for practical exercises such as case studies, games, contests, problem solving, etc., which reinforce the key points of the material. The flipped classroom however, has a strong reliance on excellent videos. What's new about the flipped method however is this: We now have the internet, YouTube, and a host of other websites like the Kahn Academy and Bozeman Science that provide high-quality short videos that cover key concepts in STEM education. When made well, these videos appeal to a crop of students who are immersed daily in a visual culture with high entertainment value.


Herreid, C.F., Schiller, N.A., Herreid, K.F. & Wright, C.B. (2014). A Chat with the Survey Monkey: Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 44(1), 75-80. Retrieved March 4, 2021 from .

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