How to Use Investigative Cases with Examples

This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Initial Publication Date: March 17, 2006

Practicing scientists define problems, develop methodologies and strategies to investigate those problems, and present their findings to persuade other members of their community of the reasonableness of their findings.

Investigative case based learning strategies involve a corresponding three phase process based on problem posing, problem solving, and peer persuasion. (For more information, see the BioQUEST 3P's approach (more info) to science education.)

Each phase of ICBL and key strategies are listed below. The links lead to further explanation of these strategies and application to an environmental science case Goodbye Honeybuckets which was developed at a LifeLines OnLine ( This site may be offline. ) workshop.

You may find the Case Analysis worksheet (Microsoft Word 24kB Aug17 03) helpful in guiding you through this process.

Phase I. Problem Posing: Analyzing a Case

Phase II. Problem Solving: Investigating the Questions

Phase III. Peer Persuasion: Supporting Methods and Reasoning