WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto
Teacher Teaches

Student Consolidation of Taught 'ASK' via CASE METHODS

As stressed here and here, before students can independently develop and implement effective RiNA projects, it is essential that teachers directly teach (e.g., via lectures) important attitudes, skills and knowledge (ASK) about harmful STSE relationships (e.g., companies being allowed to sell relatively untested drugs) and RiNA projects that people have conducted to overcome harms. However, as described below, students can then consolidate such ASK through activities like case methods - which provide students with Representations of Phenomena (as below) but, also, get them to engage in activities that involve deductive and inductive reasoning.

General Structure of Case Methods
It is worth repeating here, as above, that AFTER students have been directly taught important ASK about harms in STSE relationships and RiNA projects people have conducted to overcome such harms, students can consolidate (deepen & expand) such ASK through activities that get them to apply them in new situations. A very useful kind of such application activity is the case method; that is, cases ('documentaries') of particular situations (e.g., a RiNA project) and instructions and questions ('methods') to get students to consolidate their understanding of ASK in the case. The graphic below is meant to outline how educators can develop STSE-RiNA Case Methods.

The above general outline for STSE-RiNA Case Method development would involve writing a case/documentary about how students, for example, had carried out secondary and primary research to learn more about colognes used by men and depicted their research findings as an actor-network map and, likely, much text, graphics, graphs, videos, etc. Through this research, they may have identified harms - such as possible harms to virility from ingredients in the cologne. Through thinking, further research and negotiation, then, students would develop forms of action - e.g., a homemade organic cologne and related advertisements (e.g., via Twitter™) to overcome harms linked to colognes. Once this case/documentary has been created, the educators can then develop a series of instructions and questions for helping students to deepen and extend their understanding of STSE relationships and RiNA projects involving cologne. The case/documentary that has been prepared is, with reference to the above schema, is a Representation of an STSE situation and corresponding RiNA project. By presenting students with Representations, educators are avoiding constructivism-informed difficulties with discovery learning (which involves inductive reasoning). Instead, students have advantages of being provided with Representations developed by others, including professionals, which they then can use for deductive (e.g., evaluating ASK in the case by checking with reports on the Internet) and inductive (e.g., reflecting on their personal experiences relating to the case/documentary) thinking - which can help deepen and extend their understanding of the case/documentary. Using the general outline above, educators could create case methods using information available on the Internet about specific STSE relationships and/or RiNA projects.

Sample STSE Case Methods
Over the years since the STEPWISE framework for science & technology education was developed in 2006, members of our action research team have developed several STSE-RiNA case methods. Some early versions of our case methods are linked at right. More recently, though, we have revised one - here - about cell phones in ways that match our current conceptions of RiNA projects and STSE relationships. Other educators have, of course, developed case methods - some of which are at: Bioethics Case Studies; and, ActionBioscience