teaching case studies

I like the Zoetewey & Staggers model, in “teaching the Air Midwest Case,” for a professional writing course built around a case study. I’ll admit that I’m drawn to the case study approach—or some other theme or organizing principle—as much for selfish reasons as any others. Why? For several reasons we’ve discussed over the semester, primarily the need I feel to root this kind of class in as much of a “real world” setting as I can muster in a classroom on a campus amid a culture that many students, I think, see as comfortably removed from what-comes-after-college. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after I’ve taught the course a few times. But for now, I feel like I’ll be a better teacher if I can get students working on and toward something “real,” something concrete. I do have concerns, of course, among them selecting the “right” case or topic (something rich enough to warrant a semester’s worth of attention and work); sustaining student interest; dealing with the ups and downs of intensive collaborative work; and balancing the need for up-front planning and flexibility. So, I think I’m going to take this approach for my course syllabus project—I’ll try to turn the class into a working, information and knowledge producing enterprise from which the students and I can all learn.

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One response to “teaching case studies

  • joe1234w

    Lee,
    You mentioned “something rich enough to warrant a semester’s worth of work.” What about a slightly different approach, say using several smaller case studies over the course of a semester. This latter approach, I think, offers several benefits:
    – allowing students a range of experience drawing general conclusions from a narrow slice of experience;
    – exposing students to different types of case studies (empirical, theoretical, etc.);
    – and exposing students to failed approaches.
    exposing students to a broader range of case studies has the potential to allow them to find the most productive approaches in a given situation.

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