At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Biology

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Analyzing

Technical Details

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Preparation & knowledge activation
  • Application & knowledge building


The aim of this activity is for students to apply their knowledge of the physiology of the stress response to a real-life research scenario.

Students will make the link between physiological and relative stress, recognizing their own relative stress triggers through class discussion.

Students will complete a three-part case study, using the information presented to analyze changes in physiological data during the stress response.

This activity is focused on the case study approach, presenting a novel situation to students in which they apply previously acquired content knowledge.

The case study is best placed as a consolidating activity after students have acquired content-specific knowledge regarding the nervous and endocrine systems. It can be used as an example of the commonality of physiological responses to changing homeostatic needs across variable triggers.

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify the physiological changes involved in the stress response
  • Analyze graphical data
  • Practice predicting results of the scientific process
  • Recognize sources of relative stress

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Beth Acton

Beth Acton

John Abbott College, Montreal


This activity benefits students as it allows them to reflect on their own personal experiences with stress and to consider the physiological changes to homeostasis that accompany both the physiological and relative stress response.


Several concepts are being integrated in this case study, and students can struggle to find a balance in time management to get through the case. They are often surprised that their predicted results are incorrect as they miss the relative stressor of the midterm exam as a variable that would induce a physiological response. They can get frustrated trying to explain the results and the teacher must orchestrate the groups to help them find the source of the relative stress.

  • Teacher orchestration as groups complete each part of the case study is crucial, keeping the students both on time so the activity can be completed in a single class session, as well as keeping the students on the right track for applying the content knowledge.
  • Students struggle to identify the relative stressor that explains the spike in the physiological indicators of stress, despite a lack of a physical stressor. The groups often need some hints to find the cause of the relative stress and to link the common physiological responses across the two general types of triggers.
  • The learning occurs as the students work with the case study, so be sure to minimize the time that the teacher is presenting in order to maximize the time that the students have to work with the case study and data analysis.

Applied Strategies