Case studies are beneficial for learning and skills development
There are numerous reasons to incorporate case studies into your course. And If you’ve ever used cases or scenarios in your teaching, it’s likely you appreciate the debate and ideas that stem from student discussions.
A study published in 2015 on student’s studying science investigated the benefits of learning through reading or class discussion versus learning through case studies. The evidence suggested that student results and performance were higher for the topic that was taught through case studies. Also, when looking at student perceived gains, students felt like they learnt more from the case studies.
It’s clear that this learning tool provides many benefits to students. A report on case study method teaching shows that learning through case studies give students the opportunity to:
- ‘Do’ the work, engage in the case and apply the concepts, techniques and methods of that discipline
- Develop tactical knowledge and skills
- Engage with a range of evidence and information, which improves their ability to apply theories, vocabularies and methods
- Encounter new situations and work through the complexities
And they help students develop their skills in:
- Problem solving
- Using analytical tools, (depending on the case, quantitative and/or qualitative)
- Decision-making in complex situations
- Coping with ambiguities
Considerations when choosing a case study
It is important to carefully select case studies that will support learning and bring the concept to life. Some of the key elements of a useful case study include currency, relevance and depth.
1. Use a current scenario
When it comes to case studies currency is important. Case studies should be current enough that the information could still be applicable in present or future situations.
2. Relevance to the topic and students
It may seem obvious, but the case study should be both relevant to the course and students. If the case is relevant to the course, it will help students draw connections between what they’re learning and the case itself. Students will also be far more engaged if the topic is relevant to them and they can see themselves in that scenario.
3. Enough depth for analysis
The case should include enough information to be a great starting point for analysis. There should be enough information for the students to figure out solutions and then to identify how to apply those solutions in other similar situations.