Case-based teaching

The case teaching method was first implemented in the 1920’es in law and medical faculties in USA. It is now a common teaching method in business education. The method combines two elements: the case itself and the discussion of the case.

A teaching case is a description where individuals or groups are confronted with a situation, where they have to make a decision or solve a problem. It often has a narrative or dramatic element, which has a motivating effect on the students. A teaching case is not a "case study" of the type used in academic research. Teaching cases provide information, but neither analysis nor conclusions. The analytical work of explaining the relationships among events in the case, identifying options, evaluating choices and predicting the effects of actions is the work done by students during discussion in class or on an online platform.


Case teaching can take place in a variety of ways and with many different intentions. In its most fundamental form, case teaching is characterized by the following:

Cases challenge students to work on real life problems that are complex and messy. The problems force students to use their skills in finding and using evidence, choosing which concepts, theories and methods are relevant, and ignoring irrelevant information.
There is a large variety of resources out there that can help you become better at case teaching. You can find pedagogical advice as well as case material that fit your particular course. Below we have compiled some of Teaching & Learning’s favorite resources on case teaching.


Ellet, W. (2007), The Case Study Handbook, Harvard Business Press
Ellet's book introduces the reader to the use of case studies in management education, including how you can read, discuss, and write persuasively about cases.

The Case Centre
The Case Centre is a European-based centre promoting the use of the case method in management education. It offers a large collection of management study materials including over 46,000 teaching cases from around the world.

Harvard Business School Publishing
Harvard Business School Publishing offers a wide range of resources on teaching for both teachers and students. A large part of their website is dedicated to the case method.

Ivey Publishing
Ivey Publishing provides business case studies with a global perspective and has over 8,000 products in its collection, adding more than 350 classroom-tested case studies each year. Almost all Ivey cases have teaching notes.

Teaching with the Case Method SERC Pedagogic Service Support
SERC's web site containing instructions on all kinds of benefits and challenges using the case teaching method.