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Case study

Case study

The case study presents the trainees with a written description of the "case" which can be a business scenario, a medical case, an ethical dilemma or other sciences cases. Usually case studies demonstrate theoretical concepts in an applied context. Trainees are asked to develop a solution for the case or take a decision based on the information given in in the case description. Case studies are most commonly solved in groups during class, but can also be solved individually (including assignments) or outside class. Often cases do not have one right answer.

Translations

Fallstudienmethode, Fallmethode, Fallbeispiele

You will need

Essential

A case

Optional but good to have

  • Material for further reading
  • Flipchart & pens
  • Projector

Benefits and limitations

Benefits

  • Case studies bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and practical applications
  • Case studies train problem solving, analysing and decision making skills
  • Many case studies are available on the internet that can be used if the author of the case is clearly acknowledged

Limitations

  • If you cannot use an existing case study, writing a new one can be challenging and time consuming
  • Moderating student discussions effectively
  • Judge and adjust the complexity of the case based on students level of knowledge & ability to apply 
  • You do not know in advance how much support students need to solve or discuss a case and which of the presented concepts they pick up- thus you need to prepare more broadly

What do I actually do as an instructor/facilitator?

Preparation / before class

After having identified the learning outcome of a Case study, you can start by browsing the internet sources such as the National Center for Case Studies in Sciences in the US. If you have identified a suitable case, see which aspects presented in the case you want students to address during your course. You then decide whether you want to distribute pre-reading material. For complex cases, you need to think about class room management issues. These include whether you will hand out all information at once or sequentially and think about the time you need to allow for each assignment. This usually also includes a question to get the students started on the case (e.g. summarising the characters involved).You might also want to think about how you plan to visualise the discussion items (e.g. bullets points vs drawings).
If you create a new case, it helps if you write a short synopsis of the case and then identifying which additional information you need to present for the students to achieve the desired learning outcome. Also write down which knowledge will be prerequisite for solving the case (if any) and break down which topics or concepts will need to be addressed during the course to find the solution.

Implementation / during class

During class you should be prepared to allow sufficient time to explore the case and possible solutions. However you should be prepared to intervene when students present wrong concepts. Having thought about class room management issues during the preparation usually supports a successful class, but be prepared to adjust your plans (e.g. by providing additional information on a concept or not addressing all the facets of the case).

There are no use cases available for "Case study".

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Examples and materials

Collection of cases from National Center for Case Studies in Sciences (US) and an example on a Clinical trial case

EBI Train online exercises 

Other

wikipedia entry

Tips & Tricks for writing Cases: example 1example 2

Image credits/copyright

Reproduced with permission from Novartis Pharma AG

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