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Making Learning Relevant With Case Studies: The Power Of Case Study Teaching

Making Learning Relevant With Case Studies: The Power Of Case Study Teaching

Case studies are a powerful tool in business and medical education. A case study is a treasure trove of well-analyzed information derived by close scrutiny of real-life scenarios & examples. They may be considered the epitome of evidence-based analyses and can serve as excellent teaching tools under the right circumstances.

Case study teaching is a potent pedagogical approach followed by teachers across different academic institutions all over. Using real-life situations to elucidate & analyze concepts, case study teaching used well-crafted case study content to attain effective learning.

Let’s explore this teaching method in further details.

The Case Study Teaching Method: How It Makes Learning Relevant

An article by College of Natural Sciences at The University Of Texas In Austin, Texas highlights the following unique features of case study teaching. 

  • Case studies engage students profoundly by presenting real-life scenarios and showing them how theories, concepts and rules work in reality.
  • Case study teaching help is starkly different from rote teaching procedures. They require students to explore the presented scenario and the underlying topic, using their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Instead of relying solely on their instructors for guidance, they get to interpret things independently.
  • Teachers get to act as coaches rather than information deliverers and students get to act as the decision-makers of their own courses.

All such insights clearly show why case study teaching scores way above conventional teaching methods. To understand how the process of learning becomes more relevant to the topic concerned in case study teaching, let’s take a look at the actual process. 

Learning Progression In Case Study Teaching Source: www.keiobusinessschool.ac.jp 

How Case Study Teaching Works 

Like any other evidence-based teaching paradigm, case study teaching requires tutors to state the learning objectives first. They need to state the things & concepts being taught, and how the case study to be discussed aligns with the learning objectives.

  • Teachers present students with problem scenario with copious amounts of information.
  • Next up, they provide them supporting materials that would be useful for understanding the case such as data graphs, online sources, journal articles, images, videos, figures, statistics, etc.

Instructors can also ask students to fetch such supplementary materials on their own.

  • After that, teachers ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions regarding the subject and scenarios presented. Such questions are meant to challenge the mental faculties of the pupils and get them thinking about the case. 
  • Once students provide their answers, the instructor then structures the discussion and the case elements together. They remind students of the learning objectives stated earlier and then used the case analysis to explain concepts, ideas, etc. with reference to their real-life applications.

This is the basic framework of the case study teaching method. As evident, case studies help make the teaching process more conducive by encouraging better student participation. Apart from understanding the nuances of a subject from an applicational perspective, the mandatory Q & A sessions between student and instructor are extremely beneficial. 

 As learning mainly occurs via analysis and discussion, teachers take assessments of participation by tracking attendance and taking note of the level of engagement. Students can also be expected to submit an analysis of a case or alternative recommendations & plan of action, either individually or in teams. 

Now, there are quite a few different approaches towards the case method learning. We discuss the most prominent ones in the next section.

Case Study Teaching Approaches

The following analyses is based on information from an article published by the Columbia University, New York’s Center For Teaching & Learning.

In every teaching method, cases are considered as ‘vehicles of classroom discussion.’ Rightfully so, as the scenario presented in the case study, coupled with instructors’ open-ended questions, motivate students to take part in discussions and think actively about the problem at hand.

Nevertheless, here are a few innovative approaches towards the case study teaching paradigm. While reading, do take note of the student roles column to understand the effectiveness of each approach better.

Case Study Discussion Strategy Usefulness Role Of The InstructorRole Of Students 
Debate or TrialHelps develop critical thinking abilities and motivates students to challenge their acquires ideas & understandingStructures and facilitates the whole discussion by offering two polar-opposite views and laying down proper guidelines of the debate. Also keep time and asks students to reflect on their learnings.Present arguments on either perspective. Work in teams to develop arguments, and present in a logical, cohesive and convincing manner.
Role Play or Public HearingUnderstand diverse perspectives, encourages open-mindedness, creative thinking and empathyStructure the role-play and facilitate the whole process. Ask students to reflect on their experiences. Play the role found in case and understand the points & perspectives of the stakeholders in the case.
Jigsaw Promotes peer-to-peer learning and allow students to own the things they have learned. Create groups and ask each to understand a specific aspect of the case study. Then, ask an expert of the previous group to help another group understand that particular concept.Become more responsible with regards to their learning process, boost confidence, encourage group learning and develop expertise.
Clicker Case using Audience Response SystemsHelp gauge student learning and knowledge base. Offers a chance for all students to respond to questions or take part in a discussion simultaneouslyInstructors present a case in several stages, interspersed with questions. Students can respond to questions using a mobile ARS.Reflect on why they responded on certain questions and discuss with peers while responding.

Implementing the case study teaching method in the classroom efficaciously requires some preparation on the teacher’s part, however. 

So, before we round up this article, let us take a look at some essential guidelines for using case studies in class.

Some Guidelines To Employ Case Studies Effectively In Class

The most straightforward application involves presentation of the case study as a framework for analyzing a topic or subject.  

  • Things will become simpler if, after stating the sessions’ learning objectives, teachers present a detailed & informative statement of the case. The information presented in the statement should contain enough information for students to come up with their own solutions. 
  • If multiple connected cases are employed, then instructors should point out the similarities and dissimilarities among the cases.  
  • Depending on the course and learning objectives, instructors should guide students towards using a systematic analysis approach that’s appropriate. 

A generic systematic approach to analyze a case study involves obtaining the answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. What is the goal of the analysis? How do they connect with the learning objectives? 
  3. What is the context of the problem presented in the case? What ideas and concepts, in relation to the learning objectives, can one uncover through their analysis?
  4. What key facts should be considered?
  5. What plan of actions and recommendations are effective? Are there any alternatives?

The above guidelines are applicable, no matter what approach an instructor takes during their case study help methods.  

The investigations conducted in the making of the above article and the information presented clearly portray the effectiveness of using case studies in a student learning process. Case study assignments & case studies help empower teaching and make learning strikingly relevant, when implementing with thoughtful pedagogical precision.

That rounds up this write-up. Hope it was an informative and exciting read for one and all.

Author-Bio: Howard Atkins is a professor of social sciences in a reputed university in Hawaii, the USA. He is also a avid blogger, academic writer and part-time tutor at Assignmenthelp.us, a leading academic service provider.

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