Case studies are scenarios that apply concepts learned in class to a “real-life” situation. They are usually presented in narrative form and often involve problem-solving, links to course readings or source materials, and discussions by groups of students, or the entire class. Usually, case studies are most effective if they are presented sequentially, so that students receive additional information as the case unfolds, and can continue to analyze or critique the situation/problem.
Guiding questions lead students through the activity. The questions should be designed to develop student’s critical thinking by asking students to distinguish between fact and assumptions, and critically analyze both the process they take in solving the case study as well as the solution itself. Example questions include:
- What is the situation? What questions do you have?
- What problem(s) need to be solved? What are some solution strategies? Evaluate pros/cons and underlying assumptions of these strategies.
- What information do you need? Where/how could you find it?
- What criteria will you use to evaluate your solution?
There are many collections of case studies publically available in a variety of disciplines
Learn more about case studies
- Resources from Carnegie Mellon University’s Enhancing Education site
- Resources from the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching
- Resources from Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching
- Case Based Learning in the Sciences (a Sheridan Center resource)
- Examples of Case Study Learning Goals in the Sciences (a Sheridan Center resource)
- National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NSF)
Explore collections of case studies
- MERLOT: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (use the search term “case studies”)
- Case Collection from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NSF)
Other pages that might be of interest