Student Designed Case Studies for Anatomy

Students in my anatomy class complete many case studies throughout the year focused on body system units. Case studies are a way to add a personal story to (sometimes) technical information about physiology. For my high school students, I try to find cases that are about younger people or even children, cases like “A Tiny Heart,” which tells the story of a baby born with a heart defect. Students seem to be more engaged when the cases about about people closer to their age or very young.

As a final project, the honors anatomy students make their own case study. They get to choose their topic, though I recommend they choose something they have a personal stake in. For example, one student chose to do her case on Lupus, because her mother has that condition.

Process

The instructions outline how to write the case based on a simple flow chart. Start with an introduction of a person by telling a story or narrating an event. Next, describe the tests needed to make a diagnosis. Tests can include X-rays, blood tests, urine tests, or other physical exams. Students should include specific details here and images if appropriate. Following the diagnosis section, they should focus on the specific anatomy and physiology of the disease. Because homeostasis is a major theme of the class, students should focus on how the disorder causes an imbalance in the system.

The last section will include how the disorder can be treated. In some cases, there will not be a cure, but the symptoms can be managed. Each section should contain 2-3 questions, similar to how cases we’ve done in class are organized.

While it may be better to assign this as a group project, during the 2021 pandemic, this was an individual assignment, due to the difficulties with working together. I think it would work very well as a project that 2-3 individuals could work on together.

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