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What is Case Based Learning?Using a case based approach engages students in discussion of specific scenarios that resemble or typically are real world examples. This method is learner centered with intense interaction between participants as they build their knowledge and work together as a group to examine the case. The instructor’s role is that of a facilitator while the students collaboratively analyze and address problems and resolve questions that have no single right answer.Clyde Freeman Herreid provides eleven basic rules for case based learning.Tells a story.Focuses on an interest arousing issue.Set in the past five yearsCreates empathy with the central characters.Includes quotations. There is no better way to understand a situation and to gain empathy for the charactersRelevant to the reader.Why Use Case Based Learning?To provide students with a relevant opportunity to see theory in practice. Real world or authentic contexts expose students to viewpoints from multiple sources and see why people may want different outcomes. Students can also see how a decision will impact different participants, both positively and negatively.To require students to analyze data in order to reach a conclusion. Since many assignments are open ended, students can practice choosing appropriate analytic techniques as well. Instructors who use case based learning say that their students are more engaged, interested, and involved in the class.To develop analytic, communicative and collaborative skills along with content knowledge. In their effort to find solutions and reach decisions through discussion, students sort out factual data, apply analytic tools, articulate issues, reflect on their relevant experiences, and draw conclusions they can relate to new situations. In the process, they acquire substantive knowledge and develop analytic, collaborative, and communication skills.Many faculty also use case studies in their curriculum to teach content, connect students with real life data,
or provide opportunities for students to put themselves in the decision maker’s shoes.Teaching Strategies for Case Based LearningThe Campus Instructional Consulting unit at Indiana University has created a great resource for case based learning. The following is from their website which we have permission to use.Formats for Cases”Finished” cases based on facts for analysis only, since the solution is indicated or alternate solutions are suggested.”Unfinished” open ended cases, where the results are not yet clear (either because the case has not come to a factual conclusion in real life, or because the instructor has eliminated the final facts.) Students must predict, make choices and offer suggestions that will affect the outcome.Fictional casesentirely written by the instructor can be open ended or finished. Cautionary note: the case must be both complex enough to mimic reality, yet not have so many “red herrings” as to obscure the goal of the exercise.Original documents news articles, reports with data and statistics, summaries, excerpts from historical writings, artifacts, literary passages, video and audio recordings, ethnographies, etc. With the right questions, these can become problem solving opportunities. Comparison between two original documents related to the same topic or theme is a strong strategy for encouraging both analysis and synthesis. This gives the opportunity for presenting more than one side of an argument,
making the conflicts more complex.