By Dr. Jia Shi
This course portfolio describes an upper division Pathophysiology of Disease course focused on case study problem solving.
IPHY 4010 Pathophysiology of Disease is an upper division elective in Integrative Physiology department. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a clear understanding of the pathogenesis of major diseases or conditions that affects human life. To learn more by teaching less, I developed course-learning goals, reduced the disease topics from ~ 100 in previous semesters to 22 in the spring 2020 semester, and incorporated case studies with the focus of differential diagnosis. This course portfolio reports student problem solving through the analysis of case studies over the entire semester.
Each selected disease was presented with at least one case study in class. Each case study addressed issues ranging from epidemiology, etiology, pathogenesis, to diagnosis based on various lab tests and common diagnostic images. Students learned how to analyze the case studies through in class discussion and group work. Some of the student answers were captured by an in-class response system (clickers). To reinforce the problem solving skills, students applied what they have learned in the classroom to their homework case study problems. Whenever possible, students were asked to differential diagnose several related diseases in multiple cases such as leukemia. The types of case study and format presented in the three exams and ten homework are line with the lecture case study problems.
Student work in Pathophysiology of Disease (IPHY 4010) include in-class clicker responses to the case study problems, answers to the homework and exam case study problems. Examples of each of these types of student work demonstrate their problem-solving skills and can be found here. I also offered a mid-tem survey to students with the intention to learn their interest level to the course, and helpfulness of the case studies to their learning.
I believe the case study approach was effective in engaging student problem solving. Students reported positive experience with the case study discussions, and their homework reflected a high quality of work. Student mid-term survey, assessments on exams, and homework all indicate this teaching strategy worked well. This was a very positive and rewarding teaching experience.
I have one interesting observation: I consistently had many students (1/3 of class) come to my office hours to discuss homework problems each week (as compared to only 1-2 students each week in previous semesters). Through discussions, students usually come up with the correct answers on their own. This explains why these students often received 100% on their homework assignments. One addition I might include moving forward is to have a virtual homework help room (staffed with undergraduate teaching assistants) so that every student can get help for their homework.