Teaching cases: a brief guide

Why teach with cases?

The case method combines the power of storytelling with critical discussion, shared experiences, and rigorous academic practice and theory.

Students find their most fundamental beliefs and assertions being challenged as they learn to think differently and more effectively. They will take on board new ideas and concepts, developing the philosophical, theoretical and practical bedrock for their subsequent management careers.

Choosing a case

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Choose a case that meets your learning objectives and is suitable for the experience and knowledge of your class. You can download online inspection copies at www.thecasecentre.org to help with your selection. Explore the world’s largest and most diverse collection of management cases at www.thecasecentre.org/casecollections

Our brilliant customer service team can help you narrow down your search, or you can simply browse our bestsellers, prizewinners, compact cases and classic cases. And be sure to use CoursePack Creator – the fast and easy way to provide one-stop study solutions for your students: www.thecasecentre.org/CoursePacks

Preparing to teach

Abraham Lincoln said: ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’ You can never quite predict what will happen during a teaching session, but careful preparation is key.

You must be clear about the learning objectives, know the case inside-out, and have at least some idea of who your students will be, both as individuals and as a group. How old are they? How experienced? From what cultural backgrounds?

Many cases will have an accompanying teaching note and other materials for instructors. These can be a great help when preparing to teach the case, so make the most of them.

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Starting the discussion

A lively discussion can be started in a number of ways. An individual student can be ‘cold-called’, or a general question can be asked of the whole class – for example, ‘What would you do next?’ or ‘What is the problem here?’.

Students can be asked to vote on an issue, and then find out if their views have changed by the end of the session. Alternatively, all the students can be asked to jot down their thoughts with a few invited to share their ideas with the class.

Tools and techniques

A successful case teaching session often involves a range of different activities, helping to maintain interest and appeal to different learning styles. These can include role play, group discussion, breakout sessions, and student presentations while in character as the case protagonist.

Using multimedia

Multimedia can help to engage and inspire students – particularly those resistant to traditional written cases. Online discussion groups, virtual worlds, social media, video clips, and web-based cases can all be introduced as part of the mix.

The possibilities are endless – from live tweeting during a case session to pre-class online discussion. With a little thought and imagination you can transform your case teaching sessions.

Feedback and improvement

Even the most experienced case teachers can learn from constructive feedback. Ask a colleague to sit in on one of your case teaching sessions, and get feedback from your students. Video a session and watch it through with a fellow case teacher – this is a great way to see yourself in action and make improvements.
Those new to case teaching may prefer to begin with a short case as part of a longer teaching session to gain some initial confidence. Another approach is to teach as a team with a colleague or colleagues until you become more experienced.

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