The Case Study Method

A lot of international universities use the case study method to teach students various aspects of theory and practical implications of theoretical concepts. We at FES have made an effort to evaluate and examine the use of the case study method.

What is a Case Study?

In its simplest form a case study is a piece of research that is carried out on a particular situation or organisational context. 

Many students prefer inductive reasoning to deductive reasoning, thus they learn more effectively from examples than from logical growth that begins with fundamental truths. Therefore, using case studies in the classroom can be a very effective method.

Case studies have been utilised for a long time at business schools, law schools, medical schools, and the social sciences. However, professors can use case studies in any area when they want students to consider how what they have studied pertains to real-world circumstances. Cases can be presented in a variety of ways, from a straightforward “What would you do in this situation?” query to a thorough explanation of the scenario with supporting data for analysis. Your course objectives will determine whether you utilise a straightforward scenario-type case or a comprehensive, detailed one.

Students are typically required to respond to open-ended questions or create a solution to an issue that has several possible solutions for case assignments. The requirements can be as simple as a one-paragraph response or as complex as a group action plan, proposal, or conclusion.

Common Case Elements

Most well written cases have these common elements:

  • A decision-maker who is pondering over some question or problem that needs to be eliminated.
  • A contextual description of the problem (a law, an industry, a family).
  • Supporting data, which can range from data tables to links to URLs, quoted statements or testimony, supporting documents, images, video, or audio.
Advantages of the case study method

A significant benefit of using case studies in instruction is that students actively participate in deriving the principles from the instances. This develops their skills in:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Analytical tools, quantitative and/or qualitative, depending on the case
  3. Decision making in complex situations
  4. Coping with ambiguities
Advise on using case studies in class

The presentation of the case study creates a framework for analysis in the simplest application. The case statement should have sufficient details to allow the students to come up with solutions and then determine how to use those solutions in other circumstances that are comparable. In order for students to recognise both the similarities and distinctions between the situations, instructors may decide to employ a variety of cases.

Depending on the course objectives, the instructor may encourage students to follow a systematic approach to their analysis.  For example:

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the objective of the analysis?
  • What is the context of the problem?
  • What key facts should be considered?
  • What alternatives are available to the decision-maker?
  • What would you recommend — and why?

Using role-playing to have students assume the roles of the people involved in the case could be an inventive way to analyse cases. This not only keeps students interested but also compels them to consider the case characters’ points of view. Students can better understand the issue they must examine by watching videos or even going on field trips that show the case’s location..

Added Readings

When combined with a reading assignment that introduces or explains a concept or analytical technique that applies to the case, case studies can be very successful. The difficulty of the subject or procedure will determine how much focus is placed on using the reading throughout the case discussion. The discussion can concentrate on the application of the analytical results if it is simple. The teacher might need to take the class through applying the procedure and interpreting the findings if it is more complicated.

Leading the Case Method, Discussion and Evaluating it.

Cases with decisions are more fascinating than those with descriptions. The teacher can begin the class discussion with a simple, uncontroversial question that should be easy for all of the students to respond to. But the best case discussions often begin by making the students choose a side. Some teachers will want a formal “open” of the case from the student, explaining the entirety of the analysis. Some people might want to use discussion-starting questions that help students proceed from problem identification to solution development. Questions and conversation are steered by a knowledgeable instructor to keep the session on topic and going at a moderate pace.

The instructor should mark the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of involvement during the case discussion in order to encourage students to finish the work before class and to increase attentiveness in the classroom. It could be a straightforward check, a check-plus, a check-minus, or a zero. As many students as feasible should be involved by the instructor. The instructor can divide the class into groups, give each group time to discuss how to respond to a case-related issue, and then invite a randomly chosen member of each group to present the group’s response and justification. You can choose randomly by rolling dice, using a spinning wheel, shuffled index cards with the names of each student, etc.

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