In practice there is overlap between the two teaching modes and we should not worry too much about clear distinctions. Many of the discussion points in this guide will be relevant to both case studies and problem-based learning topics.
The discipline of Materials Science and Engineering is ideal for using case study teaching because of the wealth of practical, real life examples that can be used to contextualise the theoretical concepts. Educational research has shown case studies to be useful pedagogical tools. Grant (1997) outlines the benefits of using case studies as an interactive learning strategy, shifting the emphasis from teacher-centred to more student-centred activities. Raju and Sanker (1999) demonstrate the importance of using case studies in engineering education to expose students to real-world issues with which they may be faced. Case studies have also been linked with increased student motivation and interest in a subject (Mustoe and Croft, 1999). In our experience of using case studies, we have found that they can be used to:
Depth of learning. When examining student use of resources, we found that many of the research-based case studies led students to derive all their information from the Internet. Whilst this is a valuable resource we feel that it can often result in only surface learning. We have found that one way of addressing this is to specify to students that we are expecting critical analysis in their work. Including a practical component is also a useful way of achieving more in-depth study (see case study example 3). Ensuring that there is progression of learning skills development (e.g. analysis to synthesis etc.) when using a series of case studies is important, rather than repetition of the same skills.
Explanation of case study requirements. Feedback has shown that students would like more details on what is expected from them in the case studies e.g. level of independent research and, more specifically, sufficient information on how to write reports, give presentations and design and present posters. This is particularly important at the start of the course as for many students this may be a very different form of learning to what they were used to at school. For example, one student commented after a case study, 'A better brief for the poster would have limited the text content, and a clear aim for what needs to be included would have been helpful'. We have now compiled tips and suggestions for students in these areas, which will form part of our case studies support web-site.
Welcome to our free case collections. As part of The Case Centre’s commitment to promoting the case method and supporting case teachers, we offer a growing range of free cases produced by a number of prominent schools and organisations across the globe.
Welcome to the Newcastle University Good Practice in Teaching and Learning Database. This is a resource for all staff to help share great ideas for teaching across the University. From using peer review to improve essay writing to buddy systems for PG teaching staff, bringing in industry professionals to student-input in module design, the database has practical solutions to everyday teaching problems, with advice on how schemes were set up and why they’re successful.The website is easy to search using the tabs above, and you can also scroll through categories of examples, including ‘Assessment and Feedback’ and ‘Research-informed Teaching’, to see how colleagues in other Schools are responding to particular challenges or better incorporating their own research into their teaching practice.Please do feel free to submit your own Case Study, and share your own teaching practice.
: A POD workshop session in Fall 2002 provides one example of the use of case studies, together with three case studies developed especially for that workshop.
In this guide, we consider the topic of case studies in its entirety. We begin by outlining our reasons for incorporating case studies into the teaching syllabus and then look at different aspects of case studies, including subject choice and content development, running and structuring of case studies, and assessment methods. Good practice, and examples of ideas that have been tried and found wanting, are discussed. Gaining feedback on our case studies from both students and staff has been an important aspect of our research and this is also reviewed.
Welcome to the Newcastle University Good Practice in Teaching and Learning Database. This is a resource for all staff to help share great ideas for teaching across the University. From using peer review to improve essay writing to buddy systems for PG teaching staff, bringing in industry professionals to student-input in module design, the database has practical solutions to everyday teaching problems, with advice on how schemes were set up and why they’re successful.
It is now documented that students can learn more effectively when actively involved in the learning process (Bonwell and Eison, 1991; Sivan et al, 2001). The case study approach is one way in which such active learning strategies can be implemented in our institutions. There are a number of definitions for the term case study. For example, Fry et al (1999) describe case studies as complex examples which give an insight into the context of a problem as well as illustrating the main point. We define our case studies as student centred activities based on topics that demonstrate theoretical concepts in an applied setting. This definition of a case study covers the variety of different teaching structures we use, ranging from short individual case studies to longer group-based activities. Examples of different styles of case studies are given at the end of this guide.
Ethnography literally means to “write (or represent) a culture.” Ethnographers look for patterns, describe local relationships (formal and informal), understandings and meanings (tacit and explicit), and try to make sense of a place and a case in relation to the entire social setting and all social relationships. They also contextualize these in wider contexts (e.g., the wider economy, government policies, etc.). While a full-fledged ethnography typically demands long-term engagement in the field, ethnographic case studies can be conducted over shorter spans of time to explore narrower fields of interest to help generate hypotheses. But the critical feature of ethnography — seeking to contextualize the problem in wider contexts — also extends to ethnographic case studies.
It is at this point that it is important to make a distinction between this type of learning and problem-based learning. The structure and format of our case studies can be likened to project-based learning as described by Savin-Baden (2003). Savin-Baden highlights the differences between problem-based learning and project-based learning and these can be summarised as follows:
Table 1: Differences and similarities between project-based learning (similar in structure to case study learning) and problem based learning.