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Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, Deanne Erdmann, MS, Sonia Rahmati Clayton, PhD, and James Denk, MA.

Disorders and Symptoms

Procedure (cont.)

6. Give each group of students a set of envelopes. Warn students not to open the envelopes until they are instructed to do so. Tell students that each envelope contains information that a medical doctor might need about a patient. All information is important to the diagnosis, but only certain information will help to distinguish among the four possible respiratory disorders. Tell students their task is to decide which envelopes contain information that will help them determine Allison’s illness. 

Once a group has agreed on question choices, it may open as many envelopes—one at a time—as needed. The challenge is to use as few envelopes as possible to diagnose Allison’s illness. Each group should keep a tally of the number of envelopes opened. Remind students that in real life, a physician would conduct a complete examination and gather all possible information before making a diagnosis. 

7. Allow time for groups to work. Provide assistance to students who may not understand the information contained in the envelopes. If the medicine and body temperature envelopes have been opened, make sure students understand that some medications, like Tylenol™, will mask the presence of mild fevers. 

8. Have each group present its diagnosis and the reasoning used to arrive at its decision. (Allison’s disease is a common cold. If students have arrived at other conclusions, discuss the evidence they used. Mention the challenges of diagnosing respiratory diseases.)

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605