An Educational Module Using Three Case Studies
and Three Scientific Concepts
John D. Graham
Dean, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
John A. Rupp
Adjunct Instructor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs,
and Senior Research Scientist, Indiana Geological Survey
Adam V. Maltese
Associate Professor of Science Education, School of Education,
and Adjunct Faculty in Department of Geological Sciences
This module has been developed around the topic of the extraction of natural gas from shale. This practice, commonly referred to as fracking, involves several practices that have complex and uncertain consequences. In the module, three scientific concepts are explored in order to elucidate how science is applied toward addressing real-world problems. The scientific concepts are: 1) correlation is not the same as causation, 2) hazard is not the same as risk and 3) risk assessment includes the evaluation of probability of occurrence and severity of negative consequences.
Each of these concepts is explored with a case study that uses a problem-based learning approach to address the challenges surrounding the concept. The cases each include background materials from various sources, a student’s guide, and complementary instructor’s guide. Together, these materials are designed to stimulate thinking and guide inquiry using a scientific approach. Use of the materials and techniques provide non-science practitioners with an appreciation of the value of science in problem solving.
Additional details and descriptions of the cases are available in the introduction to the three cases.
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