Writing Good Case Studies
Case studies are stories. They present very realistic, complex, and often contextually rich situations. They may involve a dilemma, conflict, or problem that one or more of the characters in the case must negotiate. A good case study is: “the medium by which a chunk of reality is brought into the classroom to be analyzed over by the class and the facilitator]. A good case ensure the class discussion is engaging and based upon some of the stubborn facts that must be faced in real life situations.” While they have been used most extensively in the teaching of basic medical sciences and and business, case studies can be an effective teaching tool in any number of disciplines. As a teaching strategy, case studies have a number of attributes. They close the gap between theory and practice and between the school and the workplace. They also provide students practice identifying different parameters to solving a problem, recognizing and proffering positions, evaluating courses of action, and arguing different points of view. Good case studies have different lengths and and complexity, and can be used in many of ways, depending on the specific case and on the facilitator's objectives.
They can be relatively short (e.g. >20 pages).
They can be used in class-based or discussion-based environments. They can be real, with many details from actual people and events or based on comparable events (just realistic). They can provide all the relevant data students need to discuss and resolve the key issues, or some of it. In any case students will be required to identify, and possibly supply the missing information. They can also require that students examine different perspectives of a given problem. Students may be asked to advance a solution for the case or simply identify some aspects of the problem.
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