Tag Archives: case study

Case Studies Revisited

Reflection on our recent study of The Midwest Airlines Case and Lee’s post served as inspiration to delve a little further ito the use of case studies as a pedagogical tool for use in professional writing courses.  I found a few resources that might be of interest.  The third link is for a professional writing course designed around a series of case studies, hopefully you may find some of them useful.


–          Provides a 6 step method for the employment of case studies in research

–          Outlines general advantages and disadvantages of the case study method


–          This site explores several genres of professional writing, including the case study

–          The site provides general descriptions of professional writing genre, as well as specific examples: ie the case study, as well as useful links to other professional writing resources


–          Provides an example of professional writing course designed around a series of case studies.

–          Uses one of our texts for this course:

  • Locker, Kitty O. and Isobel Findlay. Essentials of Business and Administrative

Communication. Canadian ed. McGraw-Hill Ryerson: Toronto, 2009.

Course Description and Objectives

This course aims to introduce you to the basic grammatical and stylistic principles of good, clear, written

English within a specific context. That context is professional writing. You will be introduced as well to

basic theories and concepts in professional writing, given opportunities to develop skills applicable to

writing in a professional context, and encouraged to read about and apply findings from research in

professional writing. More generally, the course aims to help you develop “the ability to communicate

information, arguments, and analyses accurately and reliably, orally and in writing to a range of

audiences” (Ontario Council of Academic Vice Presidents’ statement on “University Undergraduate

Degree Level Expectations” 24 October 2005).

To provide the context for the course assignments, this course makes use of case studies. You will read a chapter about concepts of professional writing in the textbook, and then either create or read in case study materials a case study in which those concepts are operational. After group discussion of the cases, you will be asked to complete a written assignment that incorporates those principles.


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.