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Case-Based Learning or Case Method Teaching

Case-Based Learning or Case Method Teaching

The case-based approach to teaching and learning utilizes real or imagined scenarios to teach students about their field of study. Barnes (1994) describes the case as “an account of events that seem to include enough intriguing decision points and provocative undercurrents to make a discussion group want to think and argue about them.”  According to Harris and Johnson the key in utilizing this technique is to capture the imagination of the students. In this manner students are challenged to learn by doing, develop analytical and decision making skills, internalize learning, learn how to grapple with real life problems, develop skills in oral communication and team work.  As Herreid (1998) states, “It’s a rehearsal for life!”

The significance of case-based learning is that it links theory and application to real or possible
circumstances. Students must acquire knowledge and understanding from required readings before attending class in order to apply the information in small discussion groups.  Cases prepared by the instructor from textbooks, professional experience, websites, current issues, etc. are then presented to the students with specific questions or issues to be resolved.  These questions are designed to reveal a
required answer or may be open to a creative response for which there is no right or wrong. In all cases the intention is to create questions that guide the students through appropriate analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  In this manner the students are aided in exploring possible solutions and recognizing the consequences of their answers by the instructor.

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