Managing a Case Discussion That Goes Awry
- Case Teaching
- Classroom Management
Bill Schiano is a professor of computer information systems at Bentley University. He teaches both managerial and technical courses exclusively using discussion and the case method and has done so in online and hybrid formats. Bill regularly facilitates the web-based seminar Teaching with Cases Online .
Elevate Your Case Prep with ChatGPT
- Course Design
Mitchell Weiss is the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Management Practice and chair of the MBA Required Curriculum at Harvard Business School.
What Happens When You Assign a Case in a Different Language
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Student Engagement
Steve Denson has taught negotiation for over 20 years at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. He serves as assistant dean of diversity in the Cox School, as well as vice chair of the CAB Board of KERA and a member of the advisory board for the Clements Center for Southwest Studies. He formerly served in an advisory capacity on the NAETC for the Bush and Obama administrations under Secretaries of Labor Chao and Solis. As a former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, The Public Policy and International Affairs Program named him one of their 40 top Alumni Changemakers .
Sophia Gomez is a rising senior at Southern Methodist University, double majoring in business management and political science and minoring in law and legal reasonings. She is the president of Panhellenic Council at SMU and plans to attend law school after graduation.
Adaeze Okoli is a rising senior majoring in business management at Southern Methodist University. She is president of SMU’s chapter of the national honor society Mortar Board and in the fall will serve as vice president of SMU’s Women in Business club. She plans to attend business school after college.
Strategies for Teaching Large Case Classes Online
- Digital Learning
Hayden Noel is a clinical associate professor of business administration at Gies College of Business. He began his career at the University of Illinois in 2007 as a visiting assistant professor before serving from 2009-2015 as an assistant professor and from 2015-2019 as a clinical assistant professor. His research interests include consumer information processing and memory, and he was named iMBA Professor of the Year in 2019.
Maria Rodas is an assistant professor of business administration and Shebik Centennial Fellow at Gies College of Business. Prior to receiving her PhD from the University of Minnesota, she received an MBA from Columbia University and spent a decade working in management consulting and in the consumer packaged goods industry.
How Hollywood Inspires My Case Teaching
Dr. Neil J. Lambert is a senior lecturer in global management at the University of Bristol Business School, UK. A senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Chartered Management and Business Educator, and a member of the British Academy of Management, he has written cases and taught using case-based learning across undergraduate, graduate, and executive education.
7 Favorite Business Case Studies to Teach Undergrads—and Why
- Course Materials
Amy Wallis is a full teaching professor at the Wake Forest University School of Business. As an organizational development leader and academic professional, Wallis’s teaching and expertise are in leadership, ethics, organizational behavior, team development, and change management.
Mihran A. Aroian is an assistant professor of instruction in the department of management at McCombs College of Business, University of Texas at Austin. He is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Johanna Glauber is an assistant professor in the strategy department at IE University. Her research focuses on firms’ strategy and behavior in case of failure. Having a background in management and mechanical engineering, Glauber is particularly interested in product failures in manufacturing industries, such as product recalls in the automotive industry. She also is an active member of the international research community.
Joseph C. Miller is professor and chair of the marketing and sales departments at St. Ambrose University.
Sheri L. Lambert is an associate professor of practice in the department of marketing at Temple University’s Fox School of Business where she teaches marketing strategy, digital innovation in marketing, and consumer buyer behavior at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels. Lambert is also academic director of the MS-Market Research Program and managing director of the Fox Center for Executive Education.
Oscar Melo-Vega Angeles is an associate professor of finance, a researcher, and the international financing area coordinator at the University of Lima. He is also responsible for the University of London program at the University of Lima. Melo-Vega has experience in researching and consulting in economics and finance. He has used cases in undergraduate classes for 15 years.
Michael Roberto is the Trustee Professor of Management and the director of the Center for Program Innovation at Bryant University. He joined the tenured faculty at Bryant after serving for six years on the faculty at Harvard Business School.
What Works Best When Teaching with Live Cases
- Experiential Learning
Dr. Jeff Johnson (PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is an associate professor of marketing at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Prior to academia, Dr. Johnson worked in inside sales, field sales, product management, and division management at Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, Nebraska and Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Shannon Cummins (PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is an associate professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she founded UNO’s Center for Professional Sales. Active in the pedagogy and sales communities, Dr. Cummins has published more than 20 journal articles. She has been honored with college-wide awards at two prior institutions for her teaching and service.
If You’re Not Auditing Your Curriculum for Diversity, Know Your Students Will
Pamela Fischer is a 2021 graduate of University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she received her MBA. She also received a B.A. in history and economics from Haverford College. She currently works as a senior program manager at Amazon.
Jared Harris is academic director of the Institute for Business in Society and Samuel L. Slover Research Associate Professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He teaches ethics and strategy courses in Darden’s MBA and EMBA programs, and insights from this research have been highlighted in the New York Times , the Washington Post , and The New Yorker , as well as other media outlets in the United States, Canada, Germany, India, Portugal, and the U.K. His academic career follows a distinguished business career, first in consulting at several global public accounting firms, followed by a stint as a CFO for a small technology startup.
Need a Coauthor for Your Next Business Case Study?
Art Weinstein , Ph.D., is a professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has published more than 80 scholarly articles and papers and eight books on customer-focused marketing strategy. His latest book is Superior Customer Value—Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy . Dr. Weinstein has consulted for many leading technology and service companies.
Lessons from My First Case Writing Project
Jeremy B. Dann is a lecturer at USC’s Marshall School of Business and the founding director of the case study program at the school’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Dann was named Outstanding Case Writer and winner of The Case Centre’s 2021 global case writing competition. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1998 and served as a research fellow at HBS from 1998-99. He is the author or coauthor of seven bestselling case studies available through Harvard Business Publishing.
What Effective Case Instructors Do Best
Mihnea Moldoveanu is the Desautels Professor of Integrative Thinking; Professor of Economic Analysis; and Founding Director of the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking, the Self Development Lab, the Mind Brain Behavior Institute, the Leadership Development Lab, and Rotman Digital, all at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
When Startups Lose, Students Gain
- How I Teach
Thomas R. Eisenmann is the Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he teaches entrepreneurship and studies the management of new ventures. Eisenmann is the Peter O. Crisp faculty chair of the Harvard Innovation Labs and faculty cochair of the HBS Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, the Harvard MS/MBA-Engineering Sciences, and the Harvard College Technology Fellows program. Since joining the HBS faculty in 1997, he’s led The Entrepreneurial Manager, an introductory course taught to all first-year MBAs, and chaired the second year of the MBA program.
Lindsay N. Hyde is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School in the Entrepreneurial Management unit. She coteaches Entrepreneurial Failure, a course focused on why start-ups fail and how founders and founding teams rebound and learn from failure. Hyde is also an entrepreneur in residence at Moderne Ventures, a $200M venture capital fund focused on the real estate sector. Prior to her time at Moderne, Hyde founded and led start-ups in the real estate and education spaces. She cofounded Baroo, a venture-backed services-as-amenities platform used by the largest Class A multifamily owners and operators.
What the Case Study Method Really Teaches
Nitin Nohria is the former dean of Harvard Business School.
Get the Most Out of Your Cold Calls
What to do when students bring case solutions to class.
John Lafkas is a senior editor at Harvard Business Publishing. He has taught with cases and is an aficionado of cases old and new.
An Educator’s Guide to Online Teaching Technology
Ryan W. Buell is a professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School. He teaches Managing Service Operations in the MBA elective curriculum, is a section chair in the MBA required curriculum, and teaches in numerous focused and custom executive education programs at the school. He is the faculty chair of the Transforming Customer Experiences Executive Education program, and has also taught the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum.
It’s Time We Talk About Mental Health in Business Classrooms
- Student Support
Bahia El Oddi founded Human Sustainability Inside Out to break with mental health stigmas and to support well-being at work. Prior to this, Bahia created CoCaSha (Connect, Care, and Share), a start-up empowering underrepresented food entrepreneurs and small businesses owners with digital skills. She is also the cofounder of MIT Open Learning’s TRUE Africa University, an online university aiming to empower African talent to accelerate the continent’s development, and Dar El Oddi, a cultural center aiming to make Morocco’s cultural heritage accessible to everyone.
Carin-Isabel Knoop is the executive director of the Case Research & Writing Group at Harvard Business School. She is also coauthor of Compassionate Management of Mental Health in the Modern Workplace .
5 Ways Online Tools Made Case Teaching Better
David Wood is a member of the faculty in operations management at Ivey Business School, as well as a graduate of both the HBA and MBA programs. He spent many years in industry as the director of sales and marketing and then as vice president of manufacturing before becoming president for W. C. Wood Company, a global manufacturer of home appliances. He has written many cases on process design, quality management, and operations strategy. Wood is the coauthor of a series of books on learning with cases and writing cases, and he has won a number of teaching awards, including the David G. Burgoyne Teaching Award and Outstanding Case Teacher from The Case Centre.
Ignacio Gafo is a professor in marketing management at IE Business School. He holds an Executive MBA and a PhD in marketing. Prior to joining IE, he spent 15 years working in international marketing and sales positions in the telecommunications, technology, and fast-moving consumer goods industries. He has been teaching online and face to face in master’s and executive education programs for 16 years. Gafo is a board member of IE’s Center for Liquid Learning, and lectures around the world about online education.
Why It’s OK to Keep Older Cases in Your Syllabus
A course designed to get students hired.
Johannes Kern is an affiliated professor of supply chain management at Tongji University, China, where he researches buyer-supplier relationships and the digital transformation of logistics. He also supports international companies in China to optimize their whole supply chain, including sourcing, transportation, warehousing, and production.
You Too Can—and Must—Lead Class Discussions on Social Justice Issues
Mihir A. Desai is the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School and a professor of law at Harvard Law School. His areas of expertise include tax policy, international finance, and corporate finance.
Case Writers, Think Carefully About How You Portray Protagonists
Alexandra C. Feldberg is an assistant professor of business administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine intersections between gender, knowledge-transfer, technology, and discrimination within firms. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked as a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners, a staff member at Columbia University, and an Education Pioneers Fellow with Teach For America.
Anthony J. Mayo is the Thomas S. Murphy Senior Lecturer of Business Administration and C. Roland Christensen Distinguished Management Educator in the Organizational Behavior Unit of Harvard Business School. He currently teaches leadership and organizational behavior and authentic leader development in the MBA Program. He recently co-created the HBS Online course, Leadership Principles, designed to help new and aspiring leaders unleash the potential in themselves and others.
HBS Case Research & Writing Group works closely with HBS faculty members, supporting the development of cases and other course materials including case supplements, abridgements, background notes, teaching notes, and multimedia products. Part of the Division of Research and Faculty Development, the CRG also supports other HBS departments, assists the HBS Global Initiative and its off-campus centers, and provides research assistant (RA) training services.
The Future of Case Teaching
Tales from the trenches, the art of the case method, the heart of the case method, exploring the relevance and efficacy of the case method 100 years later, what happens when students can personally relate to case protagonists.
R. Daniel Wadhwani is professor of entrepreneurship at the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of Southern California. He co-directs USC’s Founder Central Initiative , which is devoted to research and teaching on the decisions and dilemmas that founders and early hires face in new ventures. Wadhwani’s research focuses on historical approaches to the study of entrepreneurship. He recently co-edited a special issue of Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal devoted to the topic and regularly contributes to the Greif Center’s Historical Entrepreneurship Case Series .
How to Teach Any Case Online
10 business case studies to teach online.
Karthik Ramanna is a professor of business and public policy at the University of Oxford, where he is also director of the Oxford MPP and of the Oxford Case Centre on Public Leadership. He was previously on the faculty of Harvard Business School.
Laura Huang is an associate professor of business administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. Prior to joining HBS, she was an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines early-stage entrepreneurship, and the role of interpersonal relationships and implicit factors in the investment decisions of financiers such as angel investors and VCs.
Anna A. Tavis is a professor and academic director of the Human Capital Management Department at NYU School of Professional Studies, senior fellow with the Conference Board, and the academic in residence with Executive Networks. She was named for inclusion in Thinkers50 Radar for 2020.
Meredith Burnett is a professorial lecturer in the Kogod School of Business at American University. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of organizational behavior and human resource management, and her research examines how individual differences and human resource policies interact to influence employee behavior. She is particularly interested in examining how these factors influence outcomes such as employee retention and employee knowledge sharing.
Christopher A. Bartlett is the Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School. As a practicing manager prior to HBS, he worked as a marketing manager with Alcoa in Australia, as a management consultant in McKinsey’s London office, and as the country general manager of Baxter Laboratories’ subsidiary company in France. His research interests after joining HBS in 1979 focused on the strategic and organizational challenges confronting managers in large, complex corporations, and on the organizational and managerial impact of transformational change.
Chen Lin is an assistant professor of marketing at CEIBS and a former assistant professor of marketing at the Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University. Her research interests include digital and social media, internet marketing, and empirical marketing models. She has taught marketing research, digital marketing, and business technology innovation at the EMBA, EED, and MBA levels, and has been a marketing columnist for SINA Finance , Forbes , and Economist EIU.
Karin Kollenz-Quetard is professor of strategy and innovation at EDHEC Business School, and she also intervenes in customized programs at other business schools such as London Business School (UK) and HEC (France). She develops and delivers face-to-face and online executive-management development programs and keynotes with a focus on strategy and innovation. In December 2016, Karin was named one of the world’s leading business school professors by Financial Times .
Caren B. Scheepers is an associate professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria. She lectures on strategic implementation, MBA electives titled Contextual Leadership Intelligence and Diversity and Inclusion (Identity Work), and on strategic leadership on the MPhil in corporate strategy. She also developed and is hosting a GIBS Online Strategic Leadership course. She is also passionate about executive education programs and supporting companies in their strategy execution.
Teaching History Through the Case Method
Discussing race in case teaching.
Michael A. Stanko is associate professor of innovation and marketing at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management.
Do Your Students Know How to Analyze a Case—Really?
Herbert V. Brotspies , D.B.A., is an adjunct professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University. He has over 30 years’ experience as a vice president in marketing, strategic planning, and acquisitions for Fortune 50 consumer products companies working in the United States and internationally. His research interests include return on marketing investment, consumer behavior, business-to-business strategy, and strategic planning.
John T. Gironda , Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research has been published in Industrial Marketing Management, Psychology & Marketing , and Journal of Marketing Management . He has also presented at major marketing conferences including the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing Science, and Society for Marketing Advances.
Mastering Case Teaching in Online Classes
Bringing the case method online.
Srikant Datar is the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration, faculty chair of the Harvard Innovation Lab, HBS One Harvard Faculty Fellow, and senior associate dean for University Affairs at Harvard Business School. A chartered accountant, he holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.
Brian Kenny is the chief marketing and communications officer at Harvard Business School, where he oversees all marketing and communications efforts at the school. Previously, he oversaw global marketing for management consultancy The Monitor Group and led marketing programs for Genuity, a $2 billion internet company.
How to Write a Great Business Case
James L. Heskett is UPS Foundation Professor of Business Logistics, emeritus, at Harvard Business School. He completed his Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and has been a faculty member at The Ohio State University as well as president of Logistics Systems, Inc. Since 2000, he has authored a blog on Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge website .
Benson P. Shapiro is the Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing, emeritus, at Harvard Business School where he taught full time from 1970 to 1997. Since 1997, Shapiro has concentrated his professional time on consulting, giving speeches, serving on boards, and writing. He continues to teach at Harvard and has taught in many executive programs and has chaired the Sustainable Marketing Leadership for Mid-Sized Firms Program.
7 Favorite Business Case Studies to Teach—and Why
Emily Michelle David is an assistant professor of management at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Her current research focuses on discovering how to make workplaces more welcoming for people of all backgrounds and personality profiles to maximize performance and avoid employee burnout. David’s work has been published in a number of scholarly journals, and she has worked as an in-house researcher at both NASA and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Devin Shanthikumar is an associate professor and the accounting area coordinator at UCI Paul Merage School of Business. She teaches undergraduate, MBA, and executive-level courses in managerial accounting. Shanthikumar previously served on the faculty at Harvard Business School, where she taught both financial accounting and managerial accounting for MBAs, and wrote cases that are used in accounting courses across the country.
Robert D. Austin is a professor of information systems at Ivey Business School and an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Medical School. He has published widely, authoring nine books, more than 50 cases and notes, three Harvard online products, and two popular massive open online courses (MOOCs) running on the Coursera platform.
Karin Schnarr is an assistant professor of policy and the director of the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where she teaches strategic management at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels. Schnarr has published several award-winning and best-selling cases and regularly presents at international conferences on case writing and scholarship.
Gary P. Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie, Jr. Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean of faculty development at Harvard Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. Pisano is an expert in the fields of technology and operations strategy, the management of innovation, and competitive strategy. His research and consulting experience span a range of industries including aerospace, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, health care, nutrition, computers, software, telecommunications, and semiconductors.
Francesca Gino studies how people can have more productive, creative, and fulfilling lives. She is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author, most recently, of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life . Gino regularly gives keynote speeches, delivers corporate training programs, and serves in advisory roles for firms and not-for-profit organizations across the globe.
Robert F. Bruner is a university professor at the University of Virginia, distinguished professor of business administration, and dean emeritus of the Darden School of Business. He has also held visiting appointments at Harvard and Columbia universities in the United States, at INSEAD in France, and at IESE in Spain. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books on finance, management, and teaching. Currently, he teaches and writes in finance and management.
Tackling Diversity in Case Discussions
Colleen Ammerman works with the faculty leadership of the Harvard Business School Race, Gender & Equity Initiative to support a research community and a platform for disseminating practice-relevant insights for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in organizations. She is a member of the Life & Leadership After HBS research team, an ongoing longitudinal study of Harvard Business School alumni which examines the influence of gender and race on their life and career outcomes. She is also coauthor, with Boris Groysberg, of Glass Half Broken: Shattering the Barriers That Still Hold Women Back at Work (Harvard Business Review Press 2021).
Zoe Kinias is an associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD and the academic director of INSEAD’s Gender Initiative. She is also a member of the INSEAD Randomized Control Trials Lab. Her teaching topics focus on leadership development, social issues at the intersection of business and society, and psychological research in applied/business contexts.
Nien-hê Hsieh is a professor of business administration and Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow in the general management unit at Harvard Business School. His research concerns ethical issues in business and the responsibilities of global business leaders, and it centers on the question of whether and how managers are guided by not only considerations of economic efficiency, but also by values such as freedom and fairness and respect for basic rights.
The Case for Female Protagonists
Anne Trumbore is senior director of Wharton Online at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She formerly taught and designed curricula for online environments at Stanford University, and she has also pioneered the design and implementation of online courses at NovoEd and Coursera.
Lilian Ajayi-Ore is a faculty member at Columbia University and New York University School of Professional Studies. She teaches digital marketing, interactive marketing, and data analytics. She is also a digital marketing strategist and big data analytics executive with over 16 years of industry expertise helping brands and organizations identify key market trends and implement marketing strategies.
Live Case Studies Demystified
Adam Rapp is a professor of marketing at Ohio University’s College of Business and the executive director of The Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre. His research focuses on factors influencing the performance of front-line service and sales personnel. He has taught in and built sales institutes, and most recently developed an extensive curriculum around the topic of managing millennials and sales team performance.
Jessica Ogilvie is an assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration and associate director of the sales program at Marquette University where she teaches marketing and professional selling courses. She is also an area editor at the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management. Her primary areas of research include strategic issues related to frontline management, sales, and service topics.
The Perfect Opening Question
William Ellet is a lecturer in the business law department at the University of Miami Business School, where he teaches critical thinking, writing, and speaking. He has over 20 years of experience as an MBA writing coach and teaches workshops on the case method all over the globe.
The Art of Cold Calling
The C. Roland Christensen Center for Teaching and Learning was established in 2004 to promote and support teaching excellence and innovation within Harvard Business School. It also provides leadership and expertise about case method teaching and participant-centered learning for instructors at other institutions in the United States and abroad.
Teaching Cases Online
Block three, October 9, 2020: Teaching cases online: Pedagogy and technique to adapt quickly to an online higher education classroom.
Speakers : Randall Harris, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi; Cle-Anne Gabriel, University of Queensland; Will Geoghegan, Indiana University; Armand Gilinsky, Sonoma State University; and Jeff Shay, Washington & Lee University.
The North American Case Research Association
- Case Teaching Resources
Teaching With Cases
Included here are resources to learn more about case method and teaching with cases.
What Is A Teaching Case?
This video explores the definition of a teaching case and introduces the rationale for using case method.
Narrated by Carolyn Wood, former director of the HKS Case Program
Learning by the Case Method
Questions for class discussion, common case teaching challenges and possible solutions, teaching with cases tip sheet, teaching ethics by the case method.
The case method is an effective way to increase student engagement and challenge students to integrate and apply skills to real-world problems. In these videos, Using the Case Method to Teach Public Policy , you'll find invaluable insights into the art of case teaching from one of HKS’s most respected professors, Jose A. Gomez-Ibanez.
Chapter 1: Preparing for Class (2:29)
Chapter 2: How to begin the class and structure the discussion blocks (1:37)
Chapter 3: How to launch the discussion (1:36)
Chapter 4: Tools to manage the class discussion (2:23)
Chapter 5: Encouraging participation and acknowledging students' comments (1:52)
Chapter 6: Transitioning from one block to the next / Importance of body (2:05)
Chapter 7: Using the board plan to feed the discussion (3:33)
Chapter 8: Exploring the richness of the case (1:42)
Chapter 9: The wrap-up. Why teach cases? (2:49)
- Business Case Studies
Strategy & Execution
Teaching Cases Online: Synchronous, Asynchronous and Hybrid Techniques
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Teaching Cases Online: Synchronous, Asynchronous and Hybrid Techniques ^ NA0646
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Publication Date: September 30, 2020
Source: North American Case Research Association (NACRA)
The learning objective for this article is to present the reader with some basic and intermediate strategies for teaching case studies in an online classroom environment. The authors draw upon their considerable experience to describe a number of classroom situations and provide tips, tools and techniques that the reader will immediately be able to bring back to their online classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency to quickly develop skills for the online higher education classroom. The general outline of this paper is as follows: The authors begin with some preliminary considerations regarding how to set the stage for online case instruction. The authors then discuss some practical and pedagogical issues to consider as an instructor designs their online course. Next, the authors present a brief overview of some synchronous, asynchronous and hybrid online case teaching approaches. Academic integrity issues are discussed, as well as a brief debate regarding the future of online higher education.
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- Teaching with Cases
At professional schools (like Harvard’s Law, Business, Education, or Medical Schools), courses often adopt the so-called "case method" of teaching , in which students are confronted with real-world problems or scenarios involving multiple stakeholders and competing priorities. Most of the cases which faculty use with their students are written by professionals who have expertise in researching and writing in that genre, and for good reason—writing a truly masterful case, one which can engage students in hours of debate and deliberation, takes a lot of time and effort. It can be effective, nevertheless, for you to try implementing some aspects of the case-teaching approach in your class. Among the benefits which accrue to using case studies are the following:
- the fact that it gives your students the opportunity to "practice" a real-world application;
- the fact that it compels them (and you!) to reconstruct all of the divergent and convergent perspectives which different parties might bring to the scenario;
- the fact that it motivates your students to anticipate a wide range of possible responses which a reader might have; and
- the fact that it invites your students to indulge in metacognition as they revisit the process by which they became more knowledgeable about the scenario.
Features of an Effective Teaching Case
While no two case studies will be exactly alike, here are some of those principles:
- The case should illustrate what happens when a concept from the course could be, or has been, applied in the real world. Depending on the course, a “concept” might mean any one among a range of things, including an abstract principle, a theory, a tension, an issue, a method, an approach, or simply a way of thinking characteristic of an academic field. Whichever you choose, you should make sure to “ground” the case in a realistic setting early in the narrative, so that participants understand their role in the scenario.
- The case materials should include enough factual content and context to allow students to explore multiple perspectives. In order for participants to feel that they are encountering a real-world application of the course material, and that they have some freedom and agency in terms of how they interpret it, they need to be able to see the issue or problem from more than one perspective. Moreover, those perspectives need to seem genuine, and to be sketched in enough detail to seem complex. (In fact, it’s not a bad idea to include some “extraneous” information about the stakeholders involved in the case, so that students have to filter out things that seem relevant or irrelevant to them.) Otherwise, participants may fall back on picking obvious “winners” and “losers” rather than seeking creative, negotiated solutions that satisfy multiple stakeholders.
- The case materials should confront participants with a range of realistic constraints, hard choices, and authentic outcomes. If the case presumes that participants will all become omniscient, enjoy limitless resources, and succeed, they won’t learn as much about themselves as team-members and decision-makers as if they are forced to confront limitations, to make tough decisions about priorities, and to be prepared for unexpected results. These constraints and outcomes can be things which have been documented in real life, but they can also be things which the participants themselves surface in their deliberations.
- The activity should include space to reflect upon the decision-making process and the lessons of the case. Writing a case offers an opportunity to engage in multiple layers of reflection. For you, as the case writer, it is an occasion to anticipate how you (if you were the instructor) might create scenarios that are aligned with, and likely to meet the learning objectives of, a given unit of your course. For the participants whom you imagine using your case down the road, the case ideally should help them (1) to understand their own hidden assumptions, priorities, values, and biases better; and (2) to close the gap between their classroom learning and its potential real-world applications.
For more information...
Kim, Sara et al. 2006. "A Conceptual Framework for Developing Teaching Cases: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature across Disciplines." Medical Education 40: 867–876.
Herreid, Clyde Freeman. 2011. "Case Study Teaching." New Directions for Teaching and Learning 128: 31–40.
Nohria, Nitin. 2021. "What the Case Study Method Really Teaches." Harvard Business Review .
Swiercz, Paul Michael. "SWIF Learning: A Guide to Student Written-Instructor Facilitated Case Writing."
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IGI Global Teaching Cases
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- Harvard Business School →
- Christensen Center →
Teaching by the Case Method
- Preparing to Teach
- Leading in the Classroom
- Providing Assessment & Feedback
- Sample Class
Case Method in Practice
Chris Christensen described case method teaching as "the art of managing uncertainty"—a process in which the instructor serves as "planner, host, moderator, devil's advocate, fellow-student, and judge," all in search of solutions to real-world problems and challenges.
Unlike lectures, case method classes unfold without a detailed script. Successful instructors simultaneously manage content and process, and they must prepare rigorously for both. Case method teachers learn to balance planning and spontaneity. In practice, they pursue opportunities and "teachable moments" that emerge throughout the discussion, and deftly guide students toward discovery and learning on multiple levels. The principles and techniques are developed, Christensen says, "through collaboration and cooperation with friends and colleagues, and through self-observation and reflection."
This section of the Christensen Center website explores the Case Method in Practice along the following dimensions:
- Providing Assessment and Feedback
Each subsection provides perspectives and guidance through a written overview, supplemented by video commentary from experienced case method instructors. Where relevant, links are included to downloadable documents produced by the Christensen Center or Harvard Business School Publishing. References for further reading are provided as well.
An additional subsection, entitled Resources, appears at the end. It combines references from throughout the Case Method in Practice section with additional information on published materials and websites that may be of interest to prospective, new, and experienced case method instructors.
Note: We would like to thank Harvard Business School Publishing for permission to incorporate the video clips that appear in the Case Method in Practice section of our website. The clips are drawn from video excerpts included in Participant-Centered Learning and the Case Method: A DVD Case Teaching Tool (HBSP, 2003).
Christensen Center Tip Sheets
- Characteristics of Effective Case Method Teaching
- Elements of Effective Class Preparation
- Guidelines for Effective Observation of Case Instructors
- In-Class Assessment of Discussion-Based Teaching
- Questions for Class Discussions
- Teaching Quantitative Material
- Strategies and Tactics for Sensitive Topics
The case method has evolved so students may act as decision-makers in new engaging formats:
Multimedia cases, ideo: human-centered service design.
Grand Canyon University, largest for-profit college, fined $37.7 million
The U.S. Education Department is fining Grand Canyon University $37.7 million, saying the for-profit Christian school misrepresented the costs of its doctoral programs.
The agency says Grand Canyon University told students that enrolling in the doctoral program would cost $40,000 to $49,000. That was supposed to cover tuition and 60 credit hours. However, the department says, 98% of doctoral students needed more than 60 credit hours to graduate.
From 2017 to 2022, the Education Department said, 78% of Grand Canyon students who graduated with doctorates needed five or six three-credit courses. That cost another $10,000 to $12,000, and sometimes more.
"Almost no students are able to complete their doctoral program within the represented number of credits," the department said.
In many cases, students could not get federal financial aid for those additional courses.
The Education Department disclosed the fine in a letter to university President Brian Mueller dated Tuesday. It said the college has until November 20 to request a hearing and contest the fine.
In a statement email to NBC News, Grand Canyon University said the government's statements were "lies" and called them "deceptive."
"Grand Canyon University categorically denies every accusation in the Department of Education’s statement and will take all measures necessary to defend itself from these false accusations," it said.
The Phoenix-based college is the country’s largest for-profit college by enrollment, with more than 100,000 students, most of them online, and it received more than $1.1 billion in federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, primarily for its bachelor’s degree programs. That was more than any other participating school.
The Education Department says 7,547 students enrolled in its doctoral programs from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 19, 2023. The government is fining the school $5,000 for its misrepresentations to each of those students.
The Department of Education considers Grand Canyon a for-profit college for purposes of federal student aid, which means it has to follow stricter rules than not-for-profit colleges. The university disputes the for-profit classification, and the IRS considers Grand Canyon to be a nonprofit for tax purposes.
The letter to Mueller says that in the few instances that Grand Canyon University did disclose that students might have to take additional courses to complete their doctorates, the disclosures were often incomplete or they were buried in fine print or in long documents, and that those rare disclosures did not address its other misrepresentations or explain the cost of the extra courses.
Marley Jay is a business news reporter for NBC News Digital.