The format of an iCons case study was developed by University of Massachusetts faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. The process, guided by faculty and driven by students, creates an environment in which students learn how to apply their knowledge in the context of real-world problems.

Outline for an iCons I case study

It is intended that each case study used in iCons I will proceed sequentially through stages of inception – engagement – research – create – reflect. In some examples, these five stages may be accomplished by activities within one single class period. In others, activities and exercises may extend these stages over longer time.

1. Inception

This is the first stage in each case study. It involves introducing students to the topic, the issue, the problem, the underlying science. Inception may involve any/all of: articles, videos, animations, demonstrations, datasets.

2. Engagement

This is the stage where students become involved in the case study. Engagement may involve a discussion, initial report, debate, design, list, vote, etc. In engagement, students think about and begin to learn something about the topic, but should recognize that more information, research and/or understanding is required.

3. Research

This is the stage where students attempt to answer what has not been fully or adequately explored and understood during preceding stages. In Research students may design an experiment, critically evaluate data, formulate and address hypotheses, compile information to fill in knowledge gaps.

4. Create

This is the stage where students develop a new understanding based on what was learned through their research. In Creation a tangible product of the activity is created, such as a revised report, list, design, etc. Importantly, the knowledge gain during creation involves communication to the rest of the group or class.

5. Reflect

This is the stage where students reflect on the process they’ve been through. What focused and meta-skills did they use and develop? What did they learn that can be applied to future problems? What did they learn about their own interests and abilities?