Case-based Pedagogy

I think in general, case-based or problem-based learning can be a great tool. However, I think there is a limitation in how relatable some subjects can be. Typically in my field, the cases that are presented are all medical based. In some ways it is extremely helpful and maintains relevancy because much of the neuroscience field is imbedded in the clinical and medical context. We often learn how mechanisms of the brain work because at some level they go wrong, and we can learn from how they went wrong. I’ve learned about lots of systems this way. We talk about and discuss diseases, what areas of the brain/neurotransmitters/genetic mutations cause those diseases, and then we learn how they may be treated and get taught most of what we know of the brain through that scope. Ie, if there was a lesion on this nerve, what would you expect to happen to the ability for someone to move their eye? I think eventually though, problem-based learning stops working. At that point just understanding how things work becomes the problem, and you can become extremely limited in the concepts you can convey by consistently presenting “real-world” examples. Everything about biology is a real-world example, at the same time it’s all theoretical and abstract. I think at this point it can at least be extrapolated into lab classes. I may be thinking of too strict of a structure on “PBL” in that a problem needs to be presented, but I think any real world experience you bring to learning is helpful.

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