Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) - Case Studies

The goal of the STIRS Framework is to inform a national conversation and provide coherence to the development of curricular models and assessment strategies that integrate evidence-based thinking across general education and into the major.  To learn more about evidence-based reasoning as an intellectual foundation of the STIRS project, please review An Introduction to Evidence-based Problem Solving.

The first set of these resources are the STIRS case studies. Each case includes both student and instructor materials and has been double-blind peer reviewed by an expert on case study teaching and a content expert.

The STIRS case studies are listed below; click on the title for a description of each case, the course settings in which it might be taught, and to download materials. The Student Case includes the materials that students will read ahead of time or during class.  The Student Case draws the learner in and captures his or her interest with a compelling narrative.  These teaching cases don't just tell a good story and then relate the lessons learned; in fact, they typically don't supply many answers.  Rather, these cases provide students with opportunities – such as through analysis and discussion, debate, or role play – to participate actively in their learning.  Students, especially if unfamiliar with case-based learning, can benefit from reading Learning with the Case Method:  An Invitation to the Student.

The Facilitator Guide prepares an instructor to teach the case.  It includes teaching suggestions, answers to key questions, additional background and supplemental information, suggestions for assessment of student learning, and linkage to AAC&U's VALUE rubrics and STIRS competencies. The Facilitator Guide and other instructor resources are available only to instructors and administrators as a free download through the AAC&U store. To obtain the Facilitator Guide, follow the "Download Facilitator Guide" link from the case page to the AAC&U store. Faculty, administrators, and other instructional staff will be asked to verify their identity through logging in to the store before gaining access to the free Facilitator Guide.

List of STIRS Cases

Different Times of the Month: a cross-cultural analysis of menstruation taboos
Justin Armstrong, PhD – The Writing Program and Department of Anthropology, Wellesley College

The Two-Sex System: Fact or Fallacy?
 Angela Bauer, PhD – Department of Biology, High Point University

Should English be the Official Language of the United States?
Lynn Burley, PhD – Department of Writing, The University of Central Arkansas

Exploring Lawns and Gardens as Complex Socio-Ecological Systems
Loren B. Byrne, PhD – Dept of Biology, Marine Biology & Environmental Science, Roger Williams University

People, Places, and Pipelines: Debating Tar Sands Oil Transmission
Tami S. Carmichael, PhD – Humanities and Integrated Studies Program, University of North Dakota

Organic Foods:  Examining the Health Implications
Katherine Hunting, PhD, MPH – Dept of Environmental & Occupational Health, The George Washington University

The (Ferret) Sneeze Heard Around The World: The Case Of The Bioengineered Bird Flu
Jill M. Manske, PhD – Department of Biology, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)

Rising to the Challenge:  Examining the Effects of a Growth Mindset
Sal Meyers, PhD – Department of Psychology, Simpson College

Preventing Spina Bifida and Other Neural Tube Defects
Richard Riegelman, MD, MPH, PhD – Department of Epidemiology, The George Washington University

MMR Vaccine and Autism: Scientific Inquiry, Ethics, and Evidence-Based Problem Solving
Karen Singer-Freeman, PhD – Department of Psychology, Purchase College, State University of New York

To Drill or Not to Drill?  A Dilemma in the Context of Climate Change in the Arctic
Vandana Singh, PhD – Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, Framingham State University

Cell Phones and Cancer: Evaluating the Evidence to Assess Potential Association
Jennifer S. Stanford, PhD – Department of Biology, Drexel University

The Role of Evidence in Emergency Health Care Policy and Law:  Rory Staunton and NYU Langone Medical Center
Joel Teitelbaum, JD, LLM – Department of Health Policy, The George Washington University

Trends in Immigrant Adolescent Health in New York City: "Becoming an American Can Be Bad for your Health"
Katie B. Wilson, MA – Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, The City University of New York

Blood Doping: Cheating, or Leveling the Playing Field?
Adele J. Wolfson, PhD – Department of Chemistry, Wellesley College

Congressional Apportionment:  Constitutional Questions, Data, and the First Presidential Veto
Ryan J. Zerr, PhD – Department of Mathematics, University of North Dakota

Supplemental Resource for Students
Learning with the Case Method:  An Invitation to the Student
Vandana Singh, PhD – Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, Framingham State University