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As an alternative or supplement to the traditional lecture format, in case-based instruction (CBI) students actively experience an actual or fictional problem-centered narrative within applied settings. As a means of teaching reasoning skills that link theory to practice, CBI has been used across many disciplines, including business, law, medicine, teacher education, and the natural and behavioral sciences. In the present investigation, I formulate and use a hypothetical case narrative in teaching conceptual analysis and application of major theories (biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, and cross-cultural) in introductory psychology. Intact classes were randomly assigned to receive either CBI, combining small- and large-group discussion, or traditional lecture-based instruction (Control). As predicted, results of an independent t -test analysis show that students in the CBI condition outperformed those in the Control with respect to theoretical comprehension and application. Group discussions were generally lively and reflective of critical thinking and higher-level conceptual understanding. Overall, students viewed CBI not only as realistic and helpful in the learning process, but also as challenging, creatively stimulating, interesting, and enjoyable. Results are discussed in light of constructivist and cooperative learning models.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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