At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Biology

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • General Biology II

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group

Type of Tasks

  • Solving problems
  • Reading
  • Taking a quiz & test

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Clicker System


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building
  • Assessment & knowledge refinement


Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a powerful Molecular Biology tool in both research and diagnostics. Students will gain an insight into the use of PCR to screen for the Huntington disease (HTT gene) and how powerful PCR can be in amplifying many copies of DNA template. In conjunction to learning about PCR, students will also be learning about the mechanisms involved in DNA replication.

Students will apply the logic of PCR to help Delilah, a mother of 4 children and the daughter of a man with Huntington, try to understand whether she carries the CAG trinucleated repeat that causes the disease. This case study can span multiple weeks by having a lab component to complement the class activity.

This mini case study uses the flipped classroom strategy where students will prepare by watching videos, completing assigned readings and taking a quiz before entering the classroom. The instructor can use just in time teaching (JITT) by using the quiz results to alter the in-class material.

Within the classroom the students are split into groups and complete an assignment on Huntington disease. The assignment will be followed by some multiple choice clicker questions. The students will have applied their knowledge on PCR and gain a better understanding on DNA replication.

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain how PCR is used to screen for Huntington’s disease
  • Explain DNA replication and amplification of DNA template via PCR

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Edward Awad

Edward Awad

Vanier College, Montreal, QC


Students are able to grasp the concept of PCR after the activity and can understand the power of DNA amplification.

  • Students get overwhelmed when faced with the multiple choice clicker questions;
  • Students struggle with calculating the number of DNA copies from the PCR amplification and cannot distinguish the difference between the copies created and the DNA template.
  • If the instructor wants to cover PCR , theory is not sufficent, however coupled with a lab it can increase knowledge retention;
  • This case study can be used solely in a class setting or as a class and lab.

Applied Strategies


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