Case Study Question Types Teaching

Case Studies

Case studies are stories that are used as a teaching tool to show the application of a theory or concept to real situations. Dependent on the goal they are meant to fulfill, cases can be fact-driven and deductive where there is a correct answer, or they can be context driven where multiple solutions are possible. Various disciplines have employed case studies, including humanities, social sciences, sciences, engineering, law, business, and medicine. Good cases generally have the following features: they tell a good story, are recent, include dialogue, create empathy with the main characters, are relevant to the reader, serve a teaching function, require a dilemma to be solved, and have generality.

Instructors can create their own cases or can find cases that already exist. The following are some things to keep in mind when creating a case:

  • What do you want students to learn from the discussion of the case?
  • What do they already know that applies to the case?
  • What are the issues that may be raised in discussion?
  • How will the case and discussion be introduced?
  • What preparation is expected of students? (Do they need to read the case ahead of time? Do research? Write anything?)
  • What directions do you need to provide students regarding what they are supposed to do and accomplish?
  • Do you need to divide students into groups or will they discuss as the whole class?
  • Are you going to use role-playing or facilitators or record keepers? If so, how?
  • What are the opening questions?
  • How much time is needed for students to discuss the case?
  • What concepts are to be applied/extracted during the discussion?
  • How will you evaluate students?

POD Cases: 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.

To find other cases that already exist, try the following websites:

For more information:

Book ReviewTeaching and the Case Method, 3rd ed., vols. 1 and 2, by Louis Barnes, C. Roland (Chris) Christensen, and Abby Hansen. Harvard Business School Press, 1994; 333 pp. (vol 1), 412 pp. (vol 2).

1. Anderson LW, Krathwohl D. A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: a revision of bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, complete edition. Longman Publishing Group; White Plains, New York: 2000.

2. Bonney KM. Diffusion and osmosis: from gummy bears to celery stalks. 2014. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/diffusion_osmosis.pdf.

3. Bonney KM. An argument and plan for promoting the teaching and learning of neglected tropical diseases. J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. 2013;14(2):183–188. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.631.[PMC free article][PubMed][Cross Ref]

4. Carlson JA, Schodt DW. Beyond the lecture: case teaching and the learning of economic theory. J Econ Educ. 1995;26(1):17–28. doi: 10.1080/00220485.1995.10844853.[Cross Ref]

5. Cliff WH, Wright AW. Directed case study method for teaching human anatomy and physiology. Adv Phys Educ. 1996;15(1):S19–S28.

6. Dori YJ, Herscovitz O. Question-posing capability as an alternative evaluation method: analysis of an environmental case study. J Col Sci Teach. 1998;36(4):411–430. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2736(199904)36:4<411::AID-TEA2>3.0.CO;2-E.[Cross Ref]

7. Flynn AE, Klein JD. The influence of discussion groups in a case-based learning environment. Educ Tech Res Dev. 2001;49(3):71–86. doi: 10.1007/BF02504916.[Cross Ref]

8. Herreid CF, Schiller NA, Herreid KF, Wright C. In case you are interested: results of a survey of case study teachers. J Col Sci Teach. 2011;40(4):76–80.

9. Herreid CF. Case studies in science—a novel method of science education. J Col Sci Teach. 1994;23(4):221–229.

10. Herreid CF. The case of the dividing cell. 2003. National Center for Case Study Teaching in science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/mitosis_meiosis.pdf.

11. Knechel WR. Using the case method in accounting instruction. Iss Acc Educ. 1992;7(2):205–217.

12. Lawrence PR. The preparation of case material. In: Andrews KP, editor. The case method of teaching human relations and administration. Harvard University Press; Cambridge, MA: 1953. p. 215.

13. Mayo JA. Using case-based instruction to bridge the gap between theory and practice in psychology of adjustment. J. Construct. Psych. 2004;17:137–146. doi: 10.1080/10720530490273917.[Cross Ref]

14. McNair MP, Hersum AC. The case method at the harvard business school. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.; New York, NY: 1954.

15. Merseth KK. The case for cases in teacher education. AACTE Publications; Washington, DC: 1991.

16. Murray-Nseula M. Incorporating case studies into an undergraduate genetics course. J. Schol. Teach. Learn. 2011;11(3):75–85.

17. Olgun SO, Adali B. Teaching grade 5 life science with a case study approach. J Elem Sci Educ. 2008;20(1):29–44. doi: 10.1007/BF03174701.[Cross Ref]

18. Pals-Rylaarsdam R. Classic experiments in molecular biology. 2012. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/mol_bio_classics.pdf.

19. Pintrich PR, Schunk DH. Motivation in education: theory, research, and applications. Merrill Prentice-Hall; Upper Saddle River, NJ: 2002.

20. Seymour E, Wiese D, Hunter A, Daffinrud SM. Creating a better mousetrap: on-line student assessment of their learning gains; National Meeting of the American Chemical Society; San Francisco, CA. 2000.

21. Tomey AM. Learning with cases. J Cont Educ Nurs. 2003;34(1):34–38.[PubMed]

22. Wolter BHK, Lundeberg MA, Kang H, Herreid CF. Students’ perceptions of using personal response systems (“clickers”) with cases in science. J Col Sci Teach. 2011;40(4):14–19.

23. Yadav A, et al. Teaching science with case studies: a national survey of faculty perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using cases. J Col Sci Teach. 2007;37(1):34–38.

24. Yalçınkaya E, Boz Y, Erdur-Baker Ö. Is case-based instruction effective in enhancing high school students’ motivation toward chemistry? Sci. Edu. Int. 2012;23(2):102–116.

25. Yee W, Bonney KM. Bonding with the tutor: how to stick together in chemistry. 2015. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Case Collection. University of Buffalo. [Online.] http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=762&id=762.

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