Effective use of case studies

Office for Advancement of Learning and Teaching Best practices in teaching, learning and technology Effective use of case studies

Effective use of case studies

Many courses incorporate case studies in their teaching approach as they are particularly useful for drawing connections between theory and practice. In a case study approach, students are required to analyse a scenario and dissect information to find solutions to problems. Through this process, they are able to hone their problem-solving and analytical skills.

When selecting a suitable case for analysis, pay special attention to not only the subject area but also the learning outcomes of the course in order to ensure that students will be practising the necessary skills. An ideal case for in-depth study will include the following elements.

It's a good idea to also include some irrelevant or ambiguous information for students to sift through to prepare them for realistic workplace scenarios. You could consider asking students to take on different roles in the case as a group activity to encourage them to think from different perspectives.

Not every case study needs to be long. You may prefer to write your own short case scenario tailored to the specific area you want to teach. The questions you set are as important as the case itself. When writing questions, work backwards from the intended learning objective. Avoid simple factual questions and instead pose questions requiring students to analyse and evaluate information and make decisions.

Meaningful feedback is crucial for making sense of the case study experience. Discuss the solutions different groups came up with and any emerging issues or problems. Encourage students to reflect on what they have learned and how it could be applied in different contexts.