I’ve never used case studies to teach (never even considered it), so it was particularly exciting to examine this teaching strategy in our Oct. 5 Instructional Delivery class.
As she often does, our instructor Elizabeth taught us this teaching tool by having us practice it. But before I go into the process, let me tell you about case studies:
1. They bring reality into the learning environment.
2. They are a written description of the facts.
3. They describe a real or created situation.
4. They develop problem-solving and trouble-shooting skills.
In order to be successful, a case must be relevant, solutions must be preceded by careful analysis, case studies can’t be too long, and they must be taught in a democratic setting where everyone feels comfortable to participate. There is also no right answer, according to Elizabeth’s handout on the subject.
In order to have us practice case study teaching, Elizabeth split us into groups of four, gave us a case study and asked us what teaching activity we would use to teach it. Our group chose the case study while the other group chose lecturing.
To keep us nimble, Elizabeth continually changed the parameters of the situation, altering hypothetical class size, teacher experience, and number of weeks into the course. We also pondered how we would teach if each students work on the case study wasn’t being assigned marks. With each scenario we adapted our delivery just a little bit.
It was a useful lesson. I might be able to use a case study in my career strategies class to analyze different job interview situations.
Before I end this entry, I want to mention something else we learned in our last class. Elizabeth reminded us that learners have four ways of learning (by getting involved, by listening, by creating an idea, and by making a decision).
Since learning this last year, I’ve thought this meant that teachers should provide for all four learning styles in class as often as possible. It does, but it is also a reminder that students get stronger at the learning styles they are weakest at if they get a chance to practice them.
So I plan to remain aware of students’ learning weaknesses and to help students improve their weaknesses.