The case study is an active collaborative learning strategy where student groups read a written scenario of a real-life situation that depicts a
discipline-specific related problem. Student groups are asked to solve the problem or present alternative solutions for the problem by applying course
concepts. Case studies are an effective tool for facilitating the application of theory or other course concepts to practical, everyday situations that
students will face in their chosen discipline. Case studies help hone students’ critical thinking skills through the processes of analysis, synthesis, and
decision-making (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2005).
- Form student groups and distribute either identical or different cases to each group.
- Ask students for questions about the case study process and your expectations.
- Students work in groups to study the case and solve as directed (either in writing, orally, or both).
- Students discuss the cases and their responses with the entire class and instructor.
Example Case Studies
Water Can Kill? Exploring Effects of Osmosis
by Susan D. Hester: http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/files/hyponatremia.pdf
Three case studies are presented as examples from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science website
Rough Games and the Brain: The Structure and Function of Proteins
, Peggy Brickman:
This particular case study employs the use of “clickers” during completion. Students learn about the chemical nature of protein molecules and how
such molecules play a role in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE often results from concussions and other head trauma suffered from
playing football, boxing, and wrestling
A Spill at Parsenn Bowl
– Elaine S. Chapman:
A third example of a case study found on the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science website. This particular case study is based on a
real-life story of a woman suffering a knee injury while skiing. Students are introduced to the injury, the structure of the knee joint, additional
complicating factors, the treatment of the injury, rehabilitation, and patient recovery.
Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/case-studies/
Visit this website to learn more about case studies, how to create your own case studies, and additional resources.
NSF National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
This is a nationally recognized and vetted website supported by the National Science Foundation containing over 502 case studies from the sciences.
Each case is typically presented with an overview, teaching notes, and answer key.
Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning
, Marilyn M. Lombardi, Educause Learning Initiative: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3019.pdf (see pages 10-11)
This publication provides a concise but comprehensive summary of different authentic learning strategies and their corresponding assessment
Active Learning: 101Strategies to Teach Any Subject
by Mel Silberman
Active Learning: cooperation in the College Classroom
by David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, and Karl A. Smith
Collaborative Learning Techniques
by Elizabeth F. Barkley, K. Patricia Cross, and Claire Howell Major.
Related Evaluation and Assessment Resources
- Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Posted by: Dina Battaglia
Original Posting Date: 10/27/14