How to teach a case

The case-based teaching method is a common teaching method in business education around the world. It is particularly well-rooted in the North American teaching tradition and often associated with Harvard University – pioneers of the case method and a leading case publisher. The method combines two elements: the case itself and the teaching of the case.

The analytical work of a case typically centers around four student tasks:

1) Recognize and explain the issue(s)
2) Identify and evaluate options
3) Propose and argue for a possible solution
4) Predict the effects of the actions

The role of the teacher is to facilitate a discussion and thus encourage students to analyze and reflect on the issue(s) from a protagonist, stakeholder, or consultant’s point of view. A case class could also involve interactive elements like role-plays, presentations, or case competitions.

Regardless of the form, teaching with cases is a great way to engage students in class and stimulate experience-based learning. Cases challenge students to work on real-life problems that are complex and ambiguous. 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.

Getting started with case teaching

A wealth of resources exists to help you get started with case teaching. See for example:

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