Sarah Wolff

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Following years of widespread use in STEM graduate programs and medical school curriculums, case-study teaching has become increasingly popular in science education. Case-study curriculums allow students to actively participate in problem solving, develop analytical tools, and perform independent research. Despite these benefits, many student candidates for scientific and medical professions are not exposed to problem-based learning (PBL) methods in their undergraduate education. The goal of this study is to show student learning outcomes are improved by utilizing case studies and original research in an undergraduate STEM course. This study also provided the opportunity to assess PBL efficacy in a diverse classroom setting, including students from underrepresented groups. These objectives were accomplished through a redesign of the University of Texas at Arlington’s Fall 2020 toxicology course and a comparative data analysis of surveys, a collection of demographic data, and an evaluation of a reflection assignment. The results of this study revealed an increase in student confidence regarding essential literary science and research skills, provided insight on the response of underrepresented ethnic groups to the curriculum, and supported the expectation that a case-study curriculum improves student outcomes. This study maintains the benefits of case-study teaching and contributes to the research dedicated to addressing ethnic disparities in STEM.

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