Biology in Society: Critical Thinking

Problem-based Learning Units

Problem-based learning (PBL) begins best from a scenario in which the problems are not well defined.
Students brainstorm so as to identify a range of problems related to the scenario and choose which of these they want to investigate and report back on. Their problem-definitions may evolve as they investigate and exchange findings with other students.

The teacher facilitates brainstorming, coaches the students in their individual or small-group tasks, and serves as a resource person by providing contacts and reading suggestions when asked.

If the scenario is written well, most of the problems defined and investigated by the students will relate to the subject being taught, but the teacher has to accept some "curve balls" in return for a) student engagement in self-invented inquiry and b) content coverage by the class as a whole. (In this course there will be few curve balls because most questions will contributions to examining the various dimensions of biology in society.)
(Elaboration of these points, with examples)

Framework for Exchanges and Inquiry
Tools for Brainstorming and Clarification in Problem-Based Learning and Action Research

Index of PBL units

Guidance requested—Quickly! Case of embryo mixup in IVF clinic: scenario, Index of related pages
Timetable for units
What causes a disease? What prevents it? -- the case of pellagra: scenario, Index of related pages
Inborn IQ vs. Hard work makes a difference vs...? -- Guidance Needed: scenario, Index of related pages
Genetic purification: scenario, Index of related pages
Fetal origins vs. Adult lifestyle--competing epidemiologies of chronic disease: scenario, Index of related pages


Spring 03 syllabus

(original page by pjt)