At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Biology
  • Health science

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Anatomy and Physiology (101-DDB-05 and 101-806-AB)

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Analyzing
  • Reading

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Pen & Paper

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building
  • Consolidation & metacognition


Before class, students prepare to engage with a realistic nursing experience where a young, blind patient has Anophthalmia, a syndrome characterized by the absence of eye tissue development. Students review specific topics related to the nervous system, read through the patient brief, and consider targeted questions for a few days before this class.

In this case scenario, students work together to answer the patient’s questions and explain how the brain is organized and how parts communicate with one another. In Part A, students identify and label deep brain structures and match with their associated functions. Part B has students identify structures of the forebrain and discuss related questions. In Part C, students analyze the pathways involved in four scenarios to determine the sensory areas and motor areas that are stimulated. During the group work, the instructor pauses several times to review progress and answers before the class moves on to the next part.

Finally, students take the remaining 30-40 minutes to work together to complete Part D, where they apply their learning to answer questions regarding the patient case. These responses allow them to properly explain the brain to their young patients.

Instructional Objectives

  • Describe how the nervous system is vital to the maintenance of homeostasis.
  • Describe the anatomical organization of the nervous system into central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (cranial and spinal nerves).
  • Describe the functional organization of the nervous system into the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system (afferent and efferent divisions).
  • Locate and give the roles of each of the major parts of the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain.
  • Describe the major sensory and motor pathways.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes


Students examine a disorder in light of a disruption in development and homeostasis. My analyzing a single disorder, students not only appreciate the importance of brain development but also its plasticity. This case study aims to engage students through collaboration and information retention by addressing different learning styles.


Pace and student preparation are often a challenge. These activities work well if each student in a group is prepared for the assignment. Furthermore, be prepared to identify uncooperative students, as these groups may require more of your attention.


Consider the amount of time for student work and class discussion for each part of the assignment before class. Consider also shortening the assignment by removing whole sections. When addressing the class to review the activities, be sure to prepare the answer keys for the puzzles ahead of time, as solving the puzzles in real-time is time consuming.

Applied Strategies


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