Active Learning with the CDC

A Holiday Surprise

Engaging Students from Day One

Ever hear a story in the news and think, " I have to do a lesson on this?" That is exactly what happened to me in the fall of 2017. The semester was wrapping up and I was doing my usual scroll through social media and came across the following post:

It was at this moment I knew what my first lesson would be for the following spring semester. I knew my students would be returning to school after the holiday season and what way to spark their engagement in microbiology then to talk about puppies!

Now, let's be clear about something here, I am a microbiology professor and have several years of experience working in the medical laboratory, but I knew very little about Campylobacter. I knew how to say it and was pretty certain it was a gastrointestinal infection, but beyond that my knowledge was very limited. This did not deter me in any way from designing an engaging, active learning session for my students. In my 10 years of teaching in higher ed, I have become very comfortable with knowing what I don't know and still facilitating learning.

My first step was to read the actual CDC report on the ongoing outbreak. Using the information provided in the report, I reverse-engineered an interactive lesson in which students derived the important concepts of the case through inquiry and discussion.

I have used this case study now for two spring semesters. This authentic situation sets the stage for the active environment I aim for in my classes. I challenge you to look at news stories in your field and try and identify ways to bring those stories to life in your classes. 

I gotta go now and check social media for my next lesson!


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