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Interdisciplinary Case Studies

In order to introduce students to interdisciplinary thinking and learning early in their college careers, interdisciplinary case studies will be introduced to all introductory science courses. The case studies will focus on compelling, real-world problems, incorporate activities grounded in research on learning, and use a data-rich, research-like approach that develops students’ ability to think about problems quantitatively and from different disciplinary perspectives by drawing their attention explicitly to questions of the sources and nature of scientific knowledge.

The Hope College-Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Faculty Development Grants for Interdisciplinary Case Study Development
The Hope-HHMI program will support faculty teams to develop interdisciplinary case studies for introductory and advanced courses. The case studies will be modeled after BioQUEST "investigative case studies." These case studies present a problem and allow students to develop the questions they wish to pursue to address the problem. Student investigations can include laboratory work, computational work, informatics research, or working with “experts.” Students will be expected to articulate and support their conclusions. For more information on investigative case studies see BioQUEST's Lifelines web site (http://bioquest.org/lifelines) or Starting Point's geoscience education web site (http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/icbl).

Faculty from at least two different disciplines will develop a case study, using the disciplines to examine different aspects of the problem. Eligible departments include Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Computer Science, Engineering, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Nursing, Physics, and Psychology. Case studies may be developed for the lecture and/or the laboratory part of a course.

Faculty who are awarded a case study development grant are required to attend a summer interdisciplinary curriculum development workshop. The workshop will consist of two 4-hour sessions (lunch included).Preference will be given to projects that combine physical science or mathematics with biology and build in ways for students to reflect on the nature of interdisciplinary approaches. Faculty will work with the HHMI Director of Integrative Studies in the assessment and evaluation of the case studies.

The Hope College-HHMI program goals for student interdisciplinary learning are:
• To develop in students the intellectual capacity to deal with real, complex problems

• To build student confidence and willingness to approach problems from multiple perspectives
• To build student ability to communicate with scientists from other disciplines
• To develop student ability to make decisions in the face of uncertainty (reflective judgment)
• To help students understand strengths and limitations of different disciplinary perspectives
• To develop students' understanding of their own beliefs about knowing

The proposed interdisciplinary case studies are expected to reflect these broader programmatic goals. The case studies should serve as an introduction to interdisciplinary thinking and learning for students.  If you have any questions about investigative case studies or if you would like to discuss your ideas, please contact Dr. Joanne Stewart, Department of Chemistry, x7634, stewart@hope.edu.

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