It starts with a story:
The Brain. It sounds like a fascinating subject, but every time I approached the Neuropsychology Unit in my Introduction to Psychology course, I felt a sense of dread. The topic can be very dry, and as a member of a small department, I do not have the advantage of having colleagues who specialize in each subdivision of Psychology and can bring their passions to an introductory class. Neuropsychology is not my passion. I tried every activity in the instructor’s manuals, showed videos, and created elaborate demonstrations that required physical activity and engagement. Still, my students, mostly non-majors, inevitably rolled their eyes and then bombed the exam. Then I was introduced to the case study method. Suddenly I had a way of attaching anatomy and physiology lessons to a real person with a real problem, and my own interest was peaked. I found myself talking about cases with my colleagues in the physical sciences, and even bringing “what ifs” to my family at the dinner table. I was a bit hesitant to give up my lecture time for case study work because I knew how challenging this topic was for my students, but my fears were quickly allayed by the enthusiasm my students brought to the discussion and follow-up assignments. To my delight, they approached the case from a variety of angles; many I had not considered. The students made meaningful connections between the case and their own schemata, and ultimately their exam scores indicated far superior retention and comprehension of the material than was ever attained through my other teaching methods. I was sold. Since then, I have used case studies extensively, and have found students are more active and engaged, do less eye-rolling, and perform better on homework and exams. And the added bonus is that I am no longer the sole expert in my classroom; I learn right along with my students and frequently come away with new perspectives, insights and information.
And leads to learning.
We design workshops to:
- develop exercises to infuse lectures with dynamism and relevance;
- encourage cross-disciplinary study of real-world events;