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Making Learning Relevant With Case Studies

The open-ended problems presented in case studies give students work that feels connected to their lives.

Students working on projects in a classroom

To prepare students for jobs that haven’t been created yet, we need to teach them how to be great problem solvers so that they’ll be ready for anything. One way to do this is by teaching content and skills using real-world case studies, a learning model that’s focused on reflection during the problem-solving process. It’s similar to project-based learning, but PBL is more focused on students creating a product.

Case studies have been used for years by businesses, law and medical schools, physicians on rounds, and artists critiquing work. Like other forms of problem-based learning, case studies can be accessible for every age group, both in one subject and in interdisciplinary work.

You can get started with case studies by tackling relatable questions like these with your students:

  • How can we limit food waste in the cafeteria?
  • How can we get our school to recycle and compost waste? (Or, if you want to be more complex, how can our school reduce its carbon footprint?)
  • How can we improve school attendance?
  • How can we reduce the number of people who get sick at school during cold and flu season?

Addressing questions like these leads students to identify topics they need to learn more about. In researching the first question, for example, students may see that they need to research food chains and nutrition. Students often ask, reasonably, why they need to learn something, or when they’ll use their knowledge in the future. Learning is most successful for students when the content and skills they’re studying are relevant, and case studies offer one way to create that sense of relevance.

Teaching With Case Studies

Ultimately, a case study is simply an interesting problem with many correct answers. What does case study work look like in classrooms? Teachers generally start by having students read the case or watch a video that summarizes the case. Students then work in small groups or individually to solve the case study. Teachers set milestones defining what students should accomplish to help them manage their time.

During the case study learning process, student assessment of learning should be focused on reflection. Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick’s Learning and Leading With Habits of Mind gives several examples of what this reflection can look like in a classroom: 

Journaling: At the end of each work period, have students write an entry summarizing what they worked on, what worked well, what didn’t, and why. Sentence starters and clear rubrics or guidelines will help students be successful. At the end of a case study project, as Costa and Kallick write, it’s helpful to have students “select significant learnings, envision how they could apply these learnings to future situations, and commit to an action plan to consciously modify their behaviors.”

Interviews: While working on a case study, students can interview each other about their progress and learning. Teachers can interview students individually or in small groups to assess their learning process and their progress.

Student discussion: Discussions can be unstructured—students can talk about what they worked on that day in a think-pair-share or as a full class—or structured, using Socratic seminars or fishbowl discussions. If your class is tackling a case study in small groups, create a second set of small groups with a representative from each of the case study groups so that the groups can share their learning.

4 Tips for Setting Up a Case Study

1. Identify a problem to investigate: This should be something accessible and relevant to students’ lives. The problem should also be challenging and complex enough to yield multiple solutions with many layers.

2. Give context: Think of this step as a movie preview or book summary. Hook the learners to help them understand just enough about the problem to want to learn more.

3. Have a clear rubric: Giving structure to your definition of quality group work and products will lead to stronger end products. You may be able to have your learners help build these definitions.

4. Provide structures for presenting solutions: The amount of scaffolding you build in depends on your students’ skill level and development. A case study product can be something like several pieces of evidence of students collaborating to solve the case study, and ultimately presenting their solution with a detailed slide deck or an essay—you can scaffold this by providing specified headings for the sections of the essay.

Problem-Based Teaching Resources

There are many high-quality, peer-reviewed resources that are open source and easily accessible online.

  • The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo built an online collection of more than 800 cases that cover topics ranging from biochemistry to economics. There are resources for middle and high school students.
  • Models of Excellence , a project maintained by EL Education and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has examples of great problem- and project-based tasks—and corresponding exemplary student work—for grades pre-K to 12.
  • The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning at Purdue University is an open-source journal that publishes examples of problem-based learning in K–12 and post-secondary classrooms.
  • The Tech Edvocate has a list of websites and tools related to problem-based learning.

In their book Problems as Possibilities , Linda Torp and Sara Sage write that at the elementary school level, students particularly appreciate how they feel that they are taken seriously when solving case studies. At the middle school level, “researchers stress the importance of relating middle school curriculum to issues of student concern and interest.” And high schoolers, they write, find the case study method “beneficial in preparing them for their future.”


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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

  • Nitin Nohria

why case study is important for students

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

  • Nitin Nohria is a professor and former dean at Harvard Business School and the chairman of Thrive Capital, a venture capital firm based in New York.

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Using Case Studies to Teach

why case study is important for students

Why Use Cases?

Many students are more inductive than deductive reasoners, which means that they learn better from examples than from logical development starting with basic principles. The use of case studies can therefore be a very effective classroom technique.

Case studies are have long been used in business schools, law schools, medical schools and the social sciences, but they can be used in any discipline when instructors want students to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. Cases come in many formats, from a simple “What would you do in this situation?” question to a detailed description of a situation with accompanying data to analyze. Whether to use a simple scenario-type case or a complex detailed one depends on your course objectives.

Most case assignments require students to answer an open-ended question or develop a solution to an open-ended problem with multiple potential solutions. Requirements can range from a one-paragraph answer to a fully developed group action plan, proposal or decision.

Common Case Elements

Most “full-blown” cases have these common elements:

  • A decision-maker who is grappling with some question or problem that needs to be solved.
  • A description of the problem’s context (a law, an industry, a family).
  • Supporting data, which can range from data tables to links to URLs, quoted statements or testimony, supporting documents, images, video, or audio.

Case assignments can be done individually or in teams so that the students can brainstorm solutions and share the work load.

The following discussion of this topic incorporates material presented by Robb Dixon of the School of Management and Rob Schadt of the School of Public Health at CEIT workshops. Professor Dixon also provided some written comments that the discussion incorporates.

Advantages to the use of case studies in class

A major advantage of teaching with case studies is that the students are actively engaged in figuring out the principles by abstracting from the examples. This develops their skills in:

  • Problem solving
  • Analytical tools, quantitative and/or qualitative, depending on the case
  • Decision making in complex situations
  • Coping with ambiguities

Guidelines for using case studies in class

In the most straightforward application, the presentation of the case study establishes a framework for analysis. It is helpful if the statement of the case provides enough information for the students to figure out solutions and then to identify how to apply those solutions in other similar situations. Instructors may choose to use several cases so that students can identify both the similarities and differences among the cases.

Depending on the course objectives, the instructor may encourage students to follow a systematic approach to their analysis.  For example:

  • What is the issue?
  • What is the goal of the analysis?
  • What is the context of the problem?
  • What key facts should be considered?
  • What alternatives are available to the decision-maker?
  • What would you recommend — and why?

An innovative approach to case analysis might be to have students  role-play the part of the people involved in the case. This not only actively engages students, but forces them to really understand the perspectives of the case characters. Videos or even field trips showing the venue in which the case is situated can help students to visualize the situation that they need to analyze.

Accompanying Readings

Case studies can be especially effective if they are paired with a reading assignment that introduces or explains a concept or analytical method that applies to the case. The amount of emphasis placed on the use of the reading during the case discussion depends on the complexity of the concept or method. If it is straightforward, the focus of the discussion can be placed on the use of the analytical results. If the method is more complex, the instructor may need to walk students through its application and the interpretation of the results.

Leading the Case Discussion and Evaluating Performance

Decision cases are more interesting than descriptive ones. In order to start the discussion in class, the instructor can start with an easy, noncontroversial question that all the students should be able to answer readily. However, some of the best case discussions start by forcing the students to take a stand. Some instructors will ask a student to do a formal “open” of the case, outlining his or her entire analysis.  Others may choose to guide discussion with questions that move students from problem identification to solutions.  A skilled instructor steers questions and discussion to keep the class on track and moving at a reasonable pace.

In order to motivate the students to complete the assignment before class as well as to stimulate attentiveness during the class, the instructor should grade the participation—quantity and especially quality—during the discussion of the case. This might be a simple check, check-plus, check-minus or zero. The instructor should involve as many students as possible. In order to engage all the students, the instructor can divide them into groups, give each group several minutes to discuss how to answer a question related to the case, and then ask a randomly selected person in each group to present the group’s answer and reasoning. Random selection can be accomplished through rolling of dice, shuffled index cards, each with one student’s name, a spinning wheel, etc.

Tips on the Penn State U. website: http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/cases/

If you are interested in using this technique in a science course, there is a good website on use of case studies in the sciences at the University of Buffalo.

Dunne, D. and Brooks, K. (2004) Teaching with Cases (Halifax, NS: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education), ISBN 0-7703-8924-4 (Can be ordered at http://www.bookstore.uwo.ca/ at a cost of $15.00)

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Case Method Teaching and Learning

What is the case method? How can the case method be used to engage learners? What are some strategies for getting started? This guide helps instructors answer these questions by providing an overview of the case method while highlighting learner-centered and digitally-enhanced approaches to teaching with the case method. The guide also offers tips to instructors as they get started with the case method and additional references and resources.

On this page:

What is case method teaching.

  • Case Method at Columbia

Why use the Case Method?

Case method teaching approaches, how do i get started.

  • Additional Resources

The CTL is here to help!

For support with implementing a case method approach in your course, email [email protected] to schedule your 1-1 consultation .

Case method 1 teaching is an active form of instruction that focuses on a case and involves students learning by doing 2 3 . Cases are real or invented stories 4  that include “an educational message” or recount events, problems, dilemmas, theoretical or conceptual issue that requires analysis and/or decision-making.

Case-based teaching simulates real world situations and asks students to actively grapple with complex problems 5 6 This method of instruction is used across disciplines to promote learning, and is common in law, business, medicine, among other fields. See Table 1 below for a few types of cases and the learning they promote.

Table 1: Types of cases and the learning they promote.

For a more complete list, see Case Types & Teaching Methods: A Classification Scheme from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.

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Case Method Teaching and Learning at Columbia

The case method is actively used in classrooms across Columbia, at the Morningside campus in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the School of Business, Arts and Sciences, among others, and at Columbia University Irving Medical campus.

Faculty Spotlight:

Professor Mary Ann Price on Using Case Study Method to Place Pre-Med Students in Real-Life Scenarios

Read more  

Professor De Pinho on Using the Case Method in the Mailman Core

Case method teaching has been found to improve student learning, to increase students’ perception of learning gains, and to meet learning objectives 8 9 . Faculty have noted the instructional benefits of cases including greater student engagement in their learning 10 , deeper student understanding of concepts, stronger critical thinking skills, and an ability to make connections across content areas and view an issue from multiple perspectives 11 . 

Through case-based learning, students are the ones asking questions about the case, doing the problem-solving, interacting with and learning from their peers, “unpacking” the case, analyzing the case, and summarizing the case. They learn how to work with limited information and ambiguity, think in professional or disciplinary ways, and ask themselves “what would I do if I were in this specific situation?”

The case method bridges theory to practice, and promotes the development of skills including: communication, active listening, critical thinking, decision-making, and metacognitive skills 12 , as students apply course content knowledge, reflect on what they know and their approach to analyzing, and make sense of a case. 

Though the case method has historical roots as an instructor-centered approach that uses the Socratic dialogue and cold-calling, it is possible to take a more learner-centered approach in which students take on roles and tasks traditionally left to the instructor. 

Cases are often used as “vehicles for classroom discussion” 13 . Students should be encouraged to take ownership of their learning from a case. Discussion-based approaches engage students in thinking and communicating about a case. Instructors can set up a case activity in which students are the ones doing the work of “asking questions, summarizing content, generating hypotheses, proposing theories, or offering critical analyses” 14 . 

The role of the instructor is to share a case or ask students to share or create a case to use in class, set expectations, provide instructions, and assign students roles in the discussion. Student roles in a case discussion can include: 

  • discussion “starters” get the conversation started with a question or posing the questions that their peers came up with; 
  • facilitators listen actively, validate the contributions of peers, ask follow-up questions, draw connections, refocus the conversation as needed; 
  • recorders take-notes of the main points of the discussion, record on the board, upload to CourseWorks, or type and project on the screen; and 
  • discussion “wrappers” lead a summary of the main points of the discussion. 

Prior to the case discussion, instructors can model case analysis and the types of questions students should ask, co-create discussion guidelines with students, and ask for students to submit discussion questions. During the discussion, the instructor can keep time, intervene as necessary (however the students should be doing the talking), and pause the discussion for a debrief and to ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the case activity. 

Note: case discussions can be enhanced using technology. Live discussions can occur via video-conferencing (e.g., using Zoom ) or asynchronous discussions can occur using the Discussions tool in CourseWorks (Canvas) .

Table 2 includes a few interactive case method approaches. Regardless of the approach selected, it is important to create a learning environment in which students feel comfortable participating in a case activity and learning from one another. See below for tips on supporting student in how to learn from a case in the “getting started” section and how to create a supportive learning environment in the Guide for Inclusive Teaching at Columbia . 

Table 2. Strategies for Engaging Students in Case-Based Learning

Approaches to case teaching should be informed by course learning objectives, and can be adapted for small, large, hybrid, and online classes. Instructional technology can be used in various ways to deliver, facilitate, and assess the case method. For instance, an online module can be created in CourseWorks (Canvas) to structure the delivery of the case, allow students to work at their own pace, engage all learners, even those reluctant to speak up in class, and assess understanding of a case and student learning. Modules can include text, embedded media (e.g., using Panopto or Mediathread ) curated by the instructor, online discussion, and assessments. Students can be asked to read a case and/or watch a short video, respond to quiz questions and receive immediate feedback, post questions to a discussion, and share resources. 

For more information about options for incorporating educational technology to your course, please contact your Learning Designer .

To ensure that students are learning from the case approach, ask them to pause and reflect on what and how they learned from the case. Time to reflect  builds your students’ metacognition, and when these reflections are collected they provides you with insights about the effectiveness of your approach in promoting student learning.

Well designed case-based learning experiences: 1) motivate student involvement, 2) have students doing the work, 3) help students develop knowledge and skills, and 4) have students learning from each other.  

Designing a case-based learning experience should center around the learning objectives for a course. The following points focus on intentional design. 

Identify learning objectives, determine scope, and anticipate challenges. 

  • Why use the case method in your course? How will it promote student learning differently than other approaches? 
  • What are the learning objectives that need to be met by the case method? What knowledge should students apply and skills should they practice? 
  • What is the scope of the case? (a brief activity in a single class session to a semester-long case-based course; if new to case method, start small with a single case). 
  • What challenges do you anticipate (e.g., student preparation and prior experiences with case learning, discomfort with discussion, peer-to-peer learning, managing discussion) and how will you plan for these in your design? 
  • If you are asking students to use transferable skills for the case method (e.g., teamwork, digital literacy) make them explicit. 

Determine how you will know if the learning objectives were met and develop a plan for evaluating the effectiveness of the case method to inform future case teaching. 

  • What assessments and criteria will you use to evaluate student work or participation in case discussion? 
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the case method? What feedback will you collect from students? 
  • How might you leverage technology for assessment purposes? For example, could you quiz students about the case online before class, accept assignment submissions online, use audience response systems (e.g., PollEverywhere) for formative assessment during class? 

Select an existing case, create your own, or encourage students to bring course-relevant cases, and prepare for its delivery

  • Where will the case method fit into the course learning sequence? 
  • Is the case at the appropriate level of complexity? Is it inclusive, culturally relevant, and relatable to students? 
  • What materials and preparation will be needed to present the case to students? (e.g., readings, audiovisual materials, set up a module in CourseWorks). 

Plan for the case discussion and an active role for students

  • What will your role be in facilitating case-based learning? How will you model case analysis for your students? (e.g., present a short case and demo your approach and the process of case learning) (Davis, 2009). 
  • What discussion guidelines will you use that include your students’ input? 
  • How will you encourage students to ask and answer questions, summarize their work, take notes, and debrief the case? 
  • If students will be working in groups, how will groups form? What size will the groups be? What instructions will they be given? How will you ensure that everyone participates? What will they need to submit? Can technology be leveraged for any of these areas? 
  • Have you considered students of varied cognitive and physical abilities and how they might participate in the activities/discussions, including those that involve technology? 

Student preparation and expectations

  • How will you communicate about the case method approach to your students? When will you articulate the purpose of case-based learning and expectations of student engagement? What information about case-based learning and expectations will be included in the syllabus?
  • What preparation and/or assignment(s) will students complete in order to learn from the case? (e.g., read the case prior to class, watch a case video prior to class, post to a CourseWorks discussion, submit a brief memo, complete a short writing assignment to check students’ understanding of a case, take on a specific role, prepare to present a critique during in-class discussion).

Andersen, E. and Schiano, B. (2014). Teaching with Cases: A Practical Guide . Harvard Business Press. 

Bonney, K. M. (2015). Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains†. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education , 16 (1), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846

Davis, B.G. (2009). Chapter 24: Case Studies. In Tools for Teaching. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Garvin, D.A. (2003). Making the Case: Professional Education for the world of practice. Harvard Magazine. September-October 2003, Volume 106, Number 1, 56-107.

Golich, V.L. (2000). The ABCs of Case Teaching. International Studies Perspectives. 1, 11-29. 

Golich, V.L.; Boyer, M; Franko, P.; and Lamy, S. (2000). The ABCs of Case Teaching. Pew Case Studies in International Affairs. Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. 

Heath, J. (2015). Teaching & Writing Cases: A Practical Guide. The Case Center, UK. 

Herreid, C.F. (2011). Case Study Teaching. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. No. 128, Winder 2011, 31 – 40. 

Herreid, C.F. (2007). Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science . National Science Teachers Association. Available as an ebook through Columbia Libraries. 

Herreid, C.F. (2006). “Clicker” Cases: Introducing Case Study Teaching Into Large Classrooms. Journal of College Science Teaching. Oct 2006, 36(2). https://search.proquest.com/docview/200323718?pq-origsite=gscholar  

Krain, M. (2016). Putting the Learning in Case Learning? The Effects of Case-Based Approaches on Student Knowledge, Attitudes, and Engagement. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching. 27(2), 131-153. 

Lundberg, K.O. (Ed.). (2011). Our Digital Future: Boardrooms and Newsrooms. Knight Case Studies Initiative. 

Popil, I. (2011). Promotion of critical thinking by using case studies as teaching method. Nurse Education Today, 31(2), 204–207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2010.06.002

Schiano, B. and Andersen, E. (2017). Teaching with Cases Online . Harvard Business Publishing. 

Thistlethwaite, JE; Davies, D.; Ekeocha, S.; Kidd, J.M.; MacDougall, C.; Matthews, P.; Purkis, J.; Clay D. (2012). The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education: A BEME systematic review . Medical Teacher. 2012; 34(6): e421-44. 

Yadav, A.; Lundeberg, M.; DeSchryver, M.; Dirkin, K.; Schiller, N.A.; Maier, K. and Herreid, C.F. (2007). Teaching Science with Case Studies: A National Survey of Faculty Perceptions of the Benefits and Challenges of Using Cases. Journal of College Science Teaching; Sept/Oct 2007; 37(1). 

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass.

Additional resources 

Teaching with Cases , Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 

Features “what is a teaching case?” video that defines a teaching case, and provides documents to help students prepare for case learning, Common case teaching challenges and solutions, tips for teaching with cases. 

Promoting excellence and innovation in case method teaching: Teaching by the Case Method , Christensen Center for Teaching & Learning. Harvard Business School. 

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science . University of Buffalo. 

A collection of peer-reviewed STEM cases to teach scientific concepts and content, promote process skills and critical thinking. The Center welcomes case submissions. Case classification scheme of case types and teaching methods:

  • Different types of cases: analysis case, dilemma/decision case, directed case, interrupted case, clicker case, a flipped case, a laboratory case. 
  • Different types of teaching methods: problem-based learning, discussion, debate, intimate debate, public hearing, trial, jigsaw, role-play. 

Columbia Resources

Resources available to support your use of case method: The University hosts a number of case collections including: the Case Consortium (a collection of free cases in the fields of journalism, public policy, public health, and other disciplines that include teaching and learning resources; SIPA’s Picker Case Collection (audiovisual case studies on public sector innovation, filmed around the world and involving SIPA student teams in producing the cases); and Columbia Business School CaseWorks , which develops teaching cases and materials for use in Columbia Business School classrooms.

Center for Teaching and Learning

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers a variety of programs and services for instructors at Columbia. The CTL can provide customized support as you plan to use the case method approach through implementation. Schedule a one-on-one consultation. 

Office of the Provost

The Hybrid Learning Course Redesign grant program from the Office of the Provost provides support for faculty who are developing innovative and technology-enhanced pedagogy and learning strategies in the classroom. In addition to funding, faculty awardees receive support from CTL staff as they redesign, deliver, and evaluate their hybrid courses.

The Start Small! Mini-Grant provides support to faculty who are interested in experimenting with one new pedagogical strategy or tool. Faculty awardees receive funds and CTL support for a one-semester period.

Explore our teaching resources.

  • Blended Learning
  • Contemplative Pedagogy
  • Inclusive Teaching Guide
  • FAQ for Teaching Assistants
  • Metacognition

CTL resources and technology for you.

  • Overview of all CTL Resources and Technology
  • The origins of this method can be traced to Harvard University where in 1870 the Law School began using cases to teach students how to think like lawyers using real court decisions. This was followed by the Business School in 1920 (Garvin, 2003). These professional schools recognized that lecture mode of instruction was insufficient to teach critical professional skills, and that active learning would better prepare learners for their professional lives. ↩
  • Golich, V.L. (2000). The ABCs of Case Teaching. International Studies Perspectives. 1, 11-29. ↩
  • Herreid, C.F. (2007). Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science . National Science Teachers Association. Available as an ebook through Columbia Libraries. ↩
  • Davis, B.G. (2009). Chapter 24: Case Studies. In Tools for Teaching. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. ↩
  • Andersen, E. and Schiano, B. (2014). Teaching with Cases: A Practical Guide . Harvard Business Press. ↩
  • Lundberg, K.O. (Ed.). (2011). Our Digital Future: Boardrooms and Newsrooms. Knight Case Studies Initiative. ↩
  • Heath, J. (2015). Teaching & Writing Cases: A Practical Guide. The Case Center, UK. ↩
  • Bonney, K. M. (2015). Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains†. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education , 16 (1), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.846 ↩
  • Krain, M. (2016). Putting the Learning in Case Learning? The Effects of Case-Based Approaches on Student Knowledge, Attitudes, and Engagement. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching. 27(2), 131-153. ↩
  • Thistlethwaite, JE; Davies, D.; Ekeocha, S.; Kidd, J.M.; MacDougall, C.; Matthews, P.; Purkis, J.; Clay D. (2012). The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education: A BEME systematic review . Medical Teacher. 2012; 34(6): e421-44. ↩
  • Yadav, A.; Lundeberg, M.; DeSchryver, M.; Dirkin, K.; Schiller, N.A.; Maier, K. and Herreid, C.F. (2007). Teaching Science with Case Studies: A National Survey of Faculty Perceptions of the Benefits and Challenges of Using Cases. Journal of College Science Teaching; Sept/Oct 2007; 37(1). ↩
  • Popil, I. (2011). Promotion of critical thinking by using case studies as teaching method. Nurse Education Today, 31(2), 204–207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2010.06.002 ↩
  • Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. ↩
  • Herreid, C.F. (2006). “Clicker” Cases: Introducing Case Study Teaching Into Large Classrooms. Journal of College Science Teaching. Oct 2006, 36(2). https://search.proquest.com/docview/200323718?pq-origsite=gscholar ↩

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Case-based learning.

Case-based learning (CBL) is an established approach used across disciplines where students apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios, promoting higher levels of cognition (see Bloom’s Taxonomy ). In CBL classrooms, students typically work in groups on case studies, stories involving one or more characters and/or scenarios.  The cases present a disciplinary problem or problems for which students devise solutions under the guidance of the instructor. CBL has a strong history of successful implementation in medical, law, and business schools, and is increasingly used within undergraduate education, particularly within pre-professional majors and the sciences (Herreid, 1994). This method involves guided inquiry and is grounded in constructivism whereby students form new meanings by interacting with their knowledge and the environment (Lee, 2012).

There are a number of benefits to using CBL in the classroom. In a review of the literature, Williams (2005) describes how CBL: utilizes collaborative learning, facilitates the integration of learning, develops students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to learn, encourages learner self-reflection and critical reflection, allows for scientific inquiry, integrates knowledge and practice, and supports the development of a variety of learning skills.

CBL has several defining characteristics, including versatility, storytelling power, and efficient self-guided learning.  In a systematic analysis of 104 articles in health professions education, CBL was found to be utilized in courses with less than 50 to over 1000 students (Thistlethwaite et al., 2012). In these classrooms, group sizes ranged from 1 to 30, with most consisting of 2 to 15 students.  Instructors varied in the proportion of time they implemented CBL in the classroom, ranging from one case spanning two hours of classroom time, to year-long case-based courses. These findings demonstrate that instructors use CBL in a variety of ways in their classrooms.

The stories that comprise the framework of case studies are also a key component to CBL’s effectiveness. Jonassen and Hernandez-Serrano (2002, p.66) describe how storytelling:

Is a method of negotiating and renegotiating meanings that allows us to enter into other’s realms of meaning through messages they utter in their stories,

Helps us find our place in a culture,

Allows us to explicate and to interpret, and

Facilitates the attainment of vicarious experience by helping us to distinguish the positive models to emulate from the negative model.

Neurochemically, listening to stories can activate oxytocin, a hormone that increases one’s sensitivity to social cues, resulting in more empathy, generosity, compassion and trustworthiness (Zak, 2013; Kosfeld et al., 2005). The stories within case studies serve as a means by which learners form new understandings through characters and/or scenarios.

CBL is often described in conjunction or in comparison with problem-based learning (PBL). While the lines are often confusingly blurred within the literature, in the most conservative of definitions, the features distinguishing the two approaches include that PBL involves open rather than guided inquiry, is less structured, and the instructor plays a more passive role. In PBL multiple solutions to the problem may exit, but the problem is often initially not well-defined. PBL also has a stronger emphasis on developing self-directed learning. The choice between implementing CBL versus PBL is highly dependent on the goals and context of the instruction.  For example, in a comparison of PBL and CBL approaches during a curricular shift at two medical schools, students and faculty preferred CBL to PBL (Srinivasan et al., 2007). Students perceived CBL to be a more efficient process and more clinically applicable. However, in another context, PBL might be the favored approach.

In a review of the effectiveness of CBL in health profession education, Thistlethwaite et al. (2012), found several benefits:

Students enjoyed the method and thought it enhanced their learning,

Instructors liked how CBL engaged students in learning,

CBL seemed to facilitate small group learning, but the authors could not distinguish between whether it was the case itself or the small group learning that occurred as facilitated by the case.

Other studies have also reported on the effectiveness of CBL in achieving learning outcomes (Bonney, 2015; Breslin, 2008; Herreid, 2013; Krain, 2016). These findings suggest that CBL is a vehicle of engagement for instruction, and facilitates an environment whereby students can construct knowledge.

Science – Students are given a scenario to which they apply their basic science knowledge and problem-solving skills to help them solve the case. One example within the biological sciences is two brothers who have a family history of a genetic illness. They each have mutations within a particular sequence in their DNA. Students work through the case and draw conclusions about the biological impacts of these mutations using basic science. Sample cases: You are Not the Mother of Your Children ; Organic Chemisty and Your Cellphone: Organic Light-Emitting Diodes ;   A Light on Physics: F-Number and Exposure Time

Medicine – Medical or pre-health students read about a patient presenting with specific symptoms. Students decide which questions are important to ask the patient in their medical history, how long they have experienced such symptoms, etc. The case unfolds and students use clinical reasoning, propose relevant tests, develop a differential diagnoses and a plan of treatment. Sample cases: The Case of the Crying Baby: Surgical vs. Medical Management ; The Plan: Ethics and Physician Assisted Suicide ; The Haemophilus Vaccine: A Victory for Immunologic Engineering

Public Health – A case study describes a pandemic of a deadly infectious disease. Students work through the case to identify Patient Zero, the person who was the first to spread the disease, and how that individual became infected.  Sample cases: The Protective Parent ; The Elusive Tuberculosis Case: The CDC and Andrew Speaker ; Credible Voice: WHO-Beijing and the SARS Crisis

Law – A case study presents a legal dilemma for which students use problem solving to decide the best way to advise and defend a client. Students are presented information that changes during the case.  Sample cases: Mortgage Crisis Call (abstract) ; The Case of the Unpaid Interns (abstract) ; Police-Community Dialogue (abstract)

Business – Students work on a case study that presents the history of a business success or failure. They apply business principles learned in the classroom and assess why the venture was successful or not. Sample cases: SELCO-Determining a path forward ; Project Masiluleke: Texting and Testing to Fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa ; Mayo Clinic: Design Thinking in Healthcare

Humanities - Students consider a case that presents a theater facing financial and management difficulties. They apply business and theater principles learned in the classroom to the case, working together to create solutions for the theater. Sample cases: https://yaletmknowledgebase.org/category/case-studies/ .


Finding and Writing Cases

Consider utilizing or adapting open access cases - The availability of open resources and databases containing cases that instructors can download makes this approach even more accessible in the classroom. Instructors can consider in particular the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science , a database featuring hundreds of accessible STEM- and social science - based case studies.

  • Consider writing original cases - In the event that an instructor is unable to find open access cases relevant to their course learning objectives, they may choose to write their own. See the following resources on case writing: Cooking with Betty Crocker: A Recipe for Case Writing ; The Way of Flesch: The Art of Writing Readable Cases ;   Twixt Fact and Fiction: A Case Writer’s Dilemma ; And All That Jazz: An Essay Extolling the Virtues of Writing Case Teaching Notes .

Implementing Cases

Take baby steps if new to CBL - While entire courses and curricula may involve case-based learning, instructors who desire to implement on a smaller-scale can integrate a single case into their class, and increase the number of cases utilized over time as desired.

Use cases in classes that are small, medium or large - Cases can be scaled to any course size. In large classes with stadium seating, students can work with peers nearby, while in small classes with more flexible seating arrangements, teams can move their chairs closer together. CBL can introduce more noise (and energy) in the classroom to which an instructor often quickly becomes accustomed. Further, students can be asked to work on cases outside of class, and wrap up discussion during the next class meeting.

Encourage collaborative work - Cases present an opportunity for students to work together to solve cases which the historical literature supports as beneficial to student learning (Bruffee, 1993). Allow students to work in groups to answer case questions.

Form diverse teams as feasible - When students work within diverse teams they can be exposed to a variety of perspectives that can help them solve the case. Depending on the context of the course, priorities, and the background information gathered about the students enrolled in the class, instructors may choose to organize student groups to allow for diversity in factors such as current course grades, gender, race/ethnicity, personality, among other items.  

Use stable teams as appropriate - If CBL is a large component of the course, a research-supported practice is to keep teams together long enough to go through the stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning (Tuckman, 1965).

Walk around to guide groups - In CBL instructors serve as facilitators of student learning. Walking around allows the instructor to monitor student progress as well as identify and support any groups that may be struggling. Teaching assistants can also play a valuable role in supporting groups.

Interrupt strategically - Only every so often, for conversation in large group discussion of the case, especially when students appear confused on key concepts. An effective practice to help students meet case learning goals is to guide them as a whole group when the class is ready. This may include selecting a few student groups to present answers to discussion questions to the entire class, asking the class a question relevant to the case using polling software, and/or performing a mini-lesson on an area that appears to be confusing among students.  

Assess student learning in multiple ways - Students can be assessed informally by asking groups to report back answers to various case questions. This practice also helps students stay on task, and keeps them accountable. Cases can also be included on exams using related scenarios where students are asked to apply their knowledge.

Barrows HS. (1996). Problem-based learning in medicine and beyond: a brief overview. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 68, 3-12.  

Bonney KM. (2015). Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 16(1): 21-28.

Breslin M, Buchanan, R. (2008) On the Case Study Method of Research and Teaching in Design.  Design Issues, 24(1), 36-40.

Bruffee KS. (1993). Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and authority of knowledge. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Herreid CF. (2013). Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science, edited by Clyde Freeman Herreid. Originally published in 2006 by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); reprinted by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) in 2013.

Herreid CH. (1994). Case studies in science: A novel method of science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 23(4), 221–229.

Jonassen DH and Hernandez-Serrano J. (2002). Case-based reasoning and instructional design: Using stories to support problem solving. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 50(2), 65-77.  

Kosfeld M, Heinrichs M, Zak PJ, Fischbacher U, Fehr E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435, 673-676.

Krain M. (2016) Putting the learning in case learning? The effects of case-based approaches on student knowledge, attitudes, and engagement. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 27(2), 131-153.

Lee V. (2012). What is Inquiry-Guided Learning?  New Directions for Learning, 129:5-14.

Nkhoma M, Sriratanaviriyakul N. (2017). Using case method to enrich students’ learning outcomes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 18(1):37-50.

Srinivasan et al. (2007). Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: Effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Academic Medicine, 82(1): 74-82.

Thistlethwaite JE et al. (2012). The effectiveness of case-based learning in health professional education. A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 23.  Medical Teacher, 34, e421-e444.

Tuckman B. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-99.

Williams B. (2005). Case-based learning - a review of the literature: is there scope for this educational paradigm in prehospital education? Emerg Med, 22, 577-581.

Zak, PJ (2013). How Stories Change the Brain. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_stories_change_brain


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Teaching excellence & educational innovation, case studies, what are case studies.

Case studies are stories. They present realistic, complex, and contextually rich situations and often involve a dilemma, conflict, or problem that one or more of the characters in the case must negotiate.

A good case study, according to Professor Paul Lawrence is:

“the vehicle by which a chunk of reality is brought into the classroom to be worked over by the class and the instructor. A good case keeps the class discussion grounded upon some of the stubborn facts that must be faced in real life situations.”

(quoted in Christensen, 1981)

Although they have been used most extensively in the teaching of medicine, law and business, case studies can be an effective teaching tool in any number of disciplines. As an instructional strategy, case studies have a number of virtues. They “bridge the gap between theory and practice and between the academy and the workplace” (Barkley, Cross, and Major 2005, p.182). They also give students practice identifying the parameters of a problem, recognizing and articulating positions, evaluating courses of action, and arguing different points of view.

Case studies vary in length and detail, and can be used in a number of ways, depending on the case itself and on the instructor’s goals.

  • They can be short (a few paragraphs) or long (e.g. 20+ pages).
  • They can be used in lecture-based or discussion-based classes.
  • They can be real, with all the detail drawn from actual people and circumstances, or simply realistic.
  • They can provide all the relevant data students need to discuss and resolve the central issue, or only some of it, requiring students to identify, and possibly fill in (via outside research), the missing information.
  • They can require students to examine multiple aspects of a problem, or just a circumscribed piece.
  • They can require students to propose a solution for the case or simply to identify the parameters of the problem.

Finding or creating cases

It is possible to write your own case studies, although it is not a simple task. The material for a case study can be drawn from your own professional experiences (e.g., negotiating a labor dispute at a local corporation or navigating the rocky shoals of a political campaign), from current events (e.g., a high-profile medical ethics case or a diplomatic conundrum), from historical sources (e.g., a legal debate or military predicament), etc. It is also possible to find published cases from books and on-line case study collections. Whatever the source, an effective case study is one that, according to Davis (1993):

  • tells a “real” and engaging story
  • raises a thought-provoking issue
  • has elements of conflict
  • promotes empathy with the central characters
  • lacks an obvious or clear-cut right answer
  • encourages students to think and take a position
  • portrays actors in moments of decision
  • provides plenty of data about character, location, context, actions
  • is relatively concise

Using case studies

How you use case studies will depend on the goals, as well as on the format, of your course. If it is a large lecture course, for example, you might use a case study to illustrate and enrich the lecture material. (An instructor lecturing on principles of marketing, for example, might use the case of a particular company or product to explore marketing issues and dilemmas in a real-life context.) Also in a large class you might consider breaking the class into small groups or pairs to discuss a relevant case. If your class is a smaller, discussion-format course, you will be able to use more detailed and complex cases, to explore the perspectives introduced in the case in greater depth, and perhaps integrate other instructional strategies, such as role playing or debate. Regardless of the format in which you employ case studies, it is important that you, as the instructor, know all the issues involved in the case, prepare questions and prompts in advance, and anticipate where students might run into problems. Finally, consider who your students are and how you might productively draw on their backgrounds, experiences, personalities, etc., to enhance the discussion. While there are many variations in how case studies can be used, these six steps provide a general framework for how to lead a case-based discussion:

  • Give students ample time to read and think about the case. If the case is long, assign it as homework with a set of questions for students to consider (e.g., What is the nature of the problem the central character is facing? What are some possible courses of action? What are the potential obstacles?)
  • Introduce the case briefly and provide some guidelines for how to approach it. Clarify how you want students to think about the case (e.g., “Approach this case as if you were the presiding judge” or “You are a consultant hired by this company. What would you recommend?”) Break down the steps you want students to take in analyzing the case (e.g., “First, identify theconstraints each character in the case was operating under and the opportunities s/he had. Second, evaluate the decisions each character made and their implications. Finally, explain what you would have done differently and why.”). If you would like students to disregard or focus on certain information, specify that as well (e.g., “I want you to ignore the political affiliation of the characters described and simply distinguish their positions on stem-cell research as they are articulated here.”)
  • Create groups and monitor them to make sure everyone is involved. Breaking the full class into smaller groups gives individual students more opportunities for participation and interaction. However, small groups can drift off track if you do not provide structure. Thus, it is a good idea to make the task of the group very concrete and clear (e.g., “You are to identify three potential courses of action and outline the pros and cons of each from a public relations standpoint”). You may also want to designate roles within each group: for example, one individual might be charged with keeping the others on task and watching the time; a second individual’s role might be to question the assumptions or interpretations of the group and probe for deeper analysis; a third individual’s role might be to record the group’s thoughts and report their decision to the class.  Alternatively, group members could be assigned broad perspectives (e.g., liberal, conservative, libertarian) to represent, or asked to speak for the various “stake-holders” in the case study.
  • Have groups present their solutions/reasoning: If groups know they are responsible for producing something (a decision, rationale, analysis) to present to the class, they will approach the discussion with greater focus and seriousness. Write their conclusions on the board so that you can return to them in the discussion that follows.
  •  Ask questions for clarification and to move discussion to another level. One of the challenges for a case-based discussion leader is to guide the discussion and probe for deeper analysis without over-directing. As the discussion unfolds, ask questions that call for students to examine their own assumptions, substantiate their claims, provide illustrations, etc.
  • Synthesize issues raised. Be sure to bring the various strands of the discussion back together at the end, so that students see what they have learned and take those lessons with them. The job of synthesizing need not necessarily fall to the instructor, however; one or more students can be given this task.

Some variations on this general method include having students do outside research (individually or in groups) to bring to bear on the case in question, and comparing the actual outcome of a real-life dilemma to the solutions generated in class. 

Sources referenced:

Barkley, E. F, Cross, K. P. & Major, C. H. (2005) Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Christensen, C. R. (1981) Teaching By the Case Method. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Davis, B. G. (1993) Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Case Studies

What are case studies.

Case studies are stories or scenarios, often in narrative form, created and used as a tool for analysis and discussion. They have long been used in higher education, particularly in business and law. Hatcher et al. (2018, pp. 274-5) write:

Case studies, at their core, are metaphors for larger, more general classes of administrative problems. When presented to a class, they are narratives allow students to envision themselves in the role of the protagonist and experience the application of theory to practice by struggling with and attempting to solve the problem or issue that the protagonist faces.... Out of the metaphor students can derive a series of “lessons learned” that they can apply or transfer to other, more general issues that may arise in their professional careers.

They further note (p. 276) that "[a] good case is one that achieves its learning objectives by means of a story and a critical analysis of the situation".

Cases are often based on actual events, which adds a sense of urgency or reality. Case studies have elements of simulations , although for case studies the students tend to be observers rather than participants.

Why use case studies?

Case studies are effective ways to get students to practically apply their skills and their understanding of learned facts to a real-world situation. They are particularly useful where situations are complex and solutions are uncertain.

They can serve as the launching pad for a class discussion, or as a project for individuals or small groups. A single case may be presented to several groups, with each group offering its solutions.

Used as a teaching tool, a case study:

  • engages students in research and reflective discussion
  • encourages higher-order thinking
  • facilitates creative problem solving
  • allows students to develop realistic solutions to complex problems
  • develops students' ability to identify and distinguish between critical and extraneous factors
  • enables students to apply previously acquired skills
  • creates an opportunity for students to learn from one another.

Case studies bridge the gap between a more teacher-centred lecture method and pure problem-based learning. They leave room for teachers to give direct guidance, and the scenarios themselves provide hints and parameters within which the students operate.

Common issues using case studies

The challenges with case studies are similar to those with discussions :

  • getting students to talk and keeping the class moving
  • pointless arguments, which can throw a case analysis off track.

Since case-study analysis is student-led, it can be difficult to get the class to move through various stages of analysis and arrive at a reasonable conclusion.

How to write or choose case studies

Hatcher et al. (2018, p. 276) categorise case studies as either issue-driven (focusing on a particular problem or aspects of the course material) or organisationally based (focusing on the various issues faced by a particular type of organisation). They can be based on general knowledge or adopt the viewpoint of a single protagonist, an organisation as a whole or information gathered from governent, company or other public documents.

"Like any good story" (Hatcher et al., 2018, p. 279), a case study begins with an exposition that introduces the problem and the protagonist and launches the action. Next, the narrative escalates, with complications exacerbating the problem and constraining the protagonist's choices. These complications are revealed as the protagonist discovers them, rather than as part of the background information, to increase the verisimilitude of the case study. Eventually the situation comes to a head, and the protagonist must decide on a solution. Finally, the case study relates the consequences of that solution.

A case study should be engaging, relevant and clearly written. In particular it needs to be economical: every aspect must be directly relevant to the problem the case study is examining, with no extraneous details or digressions.

How to teach effectively with case studies

Case content should reflect the purposes of the course, and should align with the course learning outcomes, other teaching strategies and assessment in your course or program.

1) Use complex cases requiring multiple perspectives

A good case has sufficient detail to:

  • necessitate research and
  • stimulate analysis from a variety of viewpoints or perspectives.

It places the learner in the position of problem-solver. Students actively engage with the materials, discovering underlying issues, dilemmas and conflict issues.

2) Assess the process of analysis, not only the outcome

The resolution of a case is only the last stage of a process. You can observe or evaluate:

  • the quality of research
  • structural issues in written material
  • organisation of arguments
  • the feasibility of solutions presented
  • intra-group dynamics
  • evidence of consideration of all case factors.

Case studies may be resolved in more than one manner.

3) Use a variety of questions in case analysis

Various ways to use questions in teaching are discussed in detail on the Questioning page. If you are using the Harvard Business School Case Method , when analysing case studies, use a range of question types to enable the class to move through the stages of analysis:

  • clarification / information seeking ( what? )
  • analysis / diagnosis ( why? )
  • conclusion / recommendation ( what now? )
  • implementation ( how? ) and
  • application / reflection ( so what? what does it mean to you?)
  • For help using media to create case studies, see Creative Development and Educational Media Production .
  • UNSW Assessment Toolkit:  Assessment by Case Studies and Scenarios
  • The HBS Case Method (Harvard Business School).
  • What the Case Method Really Teaches
  • How to write a teaching case study

Gwee, J. (2018). The case writer's toolkit. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hatcher, W., McDonald, B. D., & Brainard, L. A. (2018). How to write a case study for public affairs. Journal of Public Affairs Education , 24 (2), 274-285. https://doi.org/10.1080/15236803.2018.1444902

  • Active learning spaces
  • Blended and online
  • Brainstorming
  • Case studies
  • Flipped classroom
  • Questioning
  • Simulations
  • Teaching diverse groups
  • Helping Students Reflect
  • Teaching Settings

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The Heart of the Case Method

Explore more.

  • Case Teaching
  • Perspectives

MBA Student: I think this has been so transformative. The case method is incredible. I’m moving to Johannesburg, so I'll be immersed in a culture that is not all that familiar to me. It's different.

The fact that—to Ali’s earlier point, you, in a case discussion, listen for 79 minutes, you maybe speak for one minute of it—the reminder to listen and watch what’s happening around you, to be convinced by other points of views that are different, but then be a protagonist in your life.

Robert White: Great.

MBA Student: Make that decision at the end of the day. That act of being put as the decision maker 500 or so times in the cases we’ve done—it gives you confidence, and it gives you self-assuredness that you can make a choice. And I’m going to take that confidence with me.

Source: “Discover the Case Method,” Harvard Business School, May 8, 2019, https://www.hbs.edu/mba/blog/post/discover-the-case-method-facebook-live .


Part 1: Exploring the Relevance and Efficacy of the Case Method 100 Years Later

Part 2: The Heart of the Case Method

Part 3: The Art of the Case Method

Part 4: Tales from the Trenches

Part 5: The Future of the Case Method


Access free PDFs of this five-part article series, translated into each of the following languages:

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The case method is about more than using business cases as a content source or encouraging students to participate in class. Yes, these elements are important. But the case method’s heart lies in its perspective on how students learn, which is quite different from pedagogies that privilege the instructor’s role in imparting wisdom to their students.

To analyze how case-method teaching works, we examine how it looks for both students and instructors. It is valuable to assess first what the case method requires from students and how their efforts benefit them. Doing so suggests what successful case discussions look like. It also sheds light on what the case method requires from instructors , which we’ll explore later in the series .

Students’ Role in Case-Method Teaching

Student preparation is essential for case discussions to succeed. This is somewhat of an obvious statement, yes, but student preparation takes on deeper meaning when case-method teaching is involved. Because case discussions frequently flip the balance of who is talking—from the instructor talking 80 percent and students talking 20 percent to 20 percent and 80 percent, respectively—students are majority owners in a case discussion’s success.

Student preparation for a case discussion should be active. Students who passively read what they are assigned will have little to add to a case discussion beyond reciting basic facts. Just as managers are constantly engaging with and making sense of their circumstances, students begin learning actively only when they step into the shoes of the case protagonists and ask the following:

To decide what to do, what information do I need?

What information is in the case?

How can I assemble this information along with my other knowledge to develop new insights regarding my decision?

What capabilities and resources do I have for influencing this situation?

“Students are majority owners in a case discussion’s success.”

Students who prepare in this way benefit directly and indirectly. Directly, they understand more about the cases they read, the concepts they apply, and the course they are in. The indirect benefit, however, is subtler, greater, and more durable: like the protagonists of the cases they read, they learn to make decisions under uncertainty and begin to develop the courage to act upon these decisions through ongoing practice.

Learning Through Others: The Social Side of Case Preparation

If these were the only benefits provided by case-method teaching, they would already be enough to recommend its use. The most important gains, however, flow from and build on students’ preparation and reflect the intensely social nature of case-method discussion. This social component ideally has two synergistic elements.

First, students who augment their preparation by meeting in study groups benefit greatly from the opportunity to test their understanding of a case against the perceptions of others, particularly of those who are different from themselves. Exchanges in these settings enable students to practice honing their arguments and listening to and persuading others. Just as often, they give students opportunities to change their minds as their peers present their own interpretations, just as managers must often do when they listen to their colleagues.

David A. Garvin: Many students are pretty convinced, when they’re done with their individual analysis, they’ve got the answer. They often find they sit down with their learning team, and there are four other answers, equally compelling, but very, very different.

Peter Michailidis: Having the learning team is extremely valuable. It’s instrumental in the way we get educated in this institution, because the truth of the matter is if you didn’t have someone to give you some pushback, the material wouldn’t sink in the way it does.

Paul Lenehan: The learning team is a great opportunity to take risks, because you know these people very well. It’s a very small, close-knit group, but also a pretty diverse group, so people have different perspectives.

Source: "Inside the Case Method: The Entrepreneurial Manager," Harvard Business School, December 13, 2012, https://www.hbs.edu/about/video.aspx?v=1_tbljt2xl .

Second, these study groups prepare students for the many directions that the subsequent class discussion can go. Having already worked through the case and accounted for others’ feedback increases students’ flexibility in adjusting to the flow of discussion and building on or attempting to shape it. Even reticent students may become more willing to test their insights in a large group, to “face their fear while they’re here,” as HBS professor Robert White notes in the following video.

Robert White: What I want you to do is face your fear while you are here, right, because your ability to test your thoughts in front of 90 students, who are probably the smartest people in the world, that are here. They are not going to remember what you say.

Lauren Buchanan: In the first month or couple of weeks of class, I was hesitant to participate. But over time, I’ve gotten rid of all of my barriers and don’t really have any qualms about participating.

But a lot of that is because of the support of my classmates. Not only do I see it changing in myself, but I see my classmates making better points over time, which then also, again, pushes me to be better.

Source: “Take a Seat in the Harvard MBA Case Classroom,” Harvard Business School, May 28, 2020, https://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/videos/Pages/details.aspx?item=25 .

Because Wisdom Can’t Be Told

The late HBS professor E. Raymond Corey noted that “real learning is never at arm’s length.”[1] Such learning demands engagement. Students with the best insights have learned through practice how to connect information from page two of a case with a quote from page eight and with data from case Exhibit 3 before class even begins.

During discussions, they are then able to listen actively to their peers, analyze an array of discrepant information surfaced by the group, and recognize moments when their own perspectives were insufficient. Thoughtful participation teaches students to think on their feet, to present their ideas concisely, and to listen to insights that differ from their own—critical skills that will serve them well in the future.

Martha Obasi: When you get the opportunity to participate you need to be able to compact the information that you’re going to present in a very concise and clear manner. Through participation in class every day, this is something that I am trying to sharpen.

Tuka Rentsen: If you allow your perspective to be constructively challenged by other people, then it is just fascinating how your position and your perspective can shift.

Claire Branch: I think the case method also gives you humility. Your perspective is not enough to figure out the answer to a question and it actually gives you the ability to ask other people what their perspective is.

Lauren Buchanan: Being in the case setting, you realize how valuable everyone else around you is and how valuable their opinions are, and the importance of being a really good active listener.

Ronnie Wimberly: Jumping into the arena, using your brain to come to the best hypothesis and conclusion that you can given the data that you have, is a task that leaders have to do every day. How do you use limited information to make a decision, and do that in a way that forces you to flex that muscle of dealing with ambiguity?

Over many case discussions, these students learn to reflect on how to make better decisions and improve their own processes for doing so. This wisdom, in the words of the late HBS professor Charles I. Gragg, cannot be told[2]; the active learning it entails cannot be passively obtained.

Tsedal Neeley: We push students to take a position or to take a stand because it forces students to think deeply, to think about risks, to think about the weaknesses in their ideas, and to also be open to influence. I want them to set high standards for themselves. I want them to be challenged. I want them to challenge others.

[1] Raymond E. Corey, "Case Method Teaching." HBS No. 581-058 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 1980).

[2] Charles I. Gragg, “Because Wisdom Can’t be Told.” HBS No. 451-005 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 1951) pp. 2–3.

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Case Study-Based Learning

Enhancing learning through immediate application.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

why case study is important for students

If you've ever tried to learn a new concept, you probably appreciate that "knowing" is different from "doing." When you have an opportunity to apply your knowledge, the lesson typically becomes much more real.

Adults often learn differently from children, and we have different motivations for learning. Typically, we learn new skills because we want to. We recognize the need to learn and grow, and we usually need – or want – to apply our newfound knowledge soon after we've learned it.

A popular theory of adult learning is andragogy (the art and science of leading man, or adults), as opposed to the better-known pedagogy (the art and science of leading children). Malcolm Knowles , a professor of adult education, was considered the father of andragogy, which is based on four key observations of adult learners:

  • Adults learn best if they know why they're learning something.
  • Adults often learn best through experience.
  • Adults tend to view learning as an opportunity to solve problems.
  • Adults learn best when the topic is relevant to them and immediately applicable.

This means that you'll get the best results with adults when they're fully involved in the learning experience. Give an adult an opportunity to practice and work with a new skill, and you have a solid foundation for high-quality learning that the person will likely retain over time.

So, how can you best use these adult learning principles in your training and development efforts? Case studies provide an excellent way of practicing and applying new concepts. As such, they're very useful tools in adult learning, and it's important to understand how to get the maximum value from them.

What Is a Case Study?

Case studies are a form of problem-based learning, where you present a situation that needs a resolution. A typical business case study is a detailed account, or story, of what happened in a particular company, industry, or project over a set period of time.

The learner is given details about the situation, often in a historical context. The key players are introduced. Objectives and challenges are outlined. This is followed by specific examples and data, which the learner then uses to analyze the situation, determine what happened, and make recommendations.

The depth of a case depends on the lesson being taught. A case study can be two pages, 20 pages, or more. A good case study makes the reader think critically about the information presented, and then develop a thorough assessment of the situation, leading to a well-thought-out solution or recommendation.

Why Use a Case Study?

Case studies are a great way to improve a learning experience, because they get the learner involved, and encourage immediate use of newly acquired skills.

They differ from lectures or assigned readings because they require participation and deliberate application of a broad range of skills. For example, if you study financial analysis through straightforward learning methods, you may have to calculate and understand a long list of financial ratios (don't worry if you don't know what these are). Likewise, you may be given a set of financial statements to complete a ratio analysis. But until you put the exercise into context, you may not really know why you're doing the analysis.

With a case study, however, you might explore whether a bank should provide financing to a borrower, or whether a company is about to make a good acquisition. Suddenly, the act of calculating ratios becomes secondary – it's more important to understand what the ratios tell you. This is how case studies can make the difference between knowing what to do, and knowing how, when, and why to do it.

Then, what really separates case studies from other practical forms of learning – like scenarios and simulations – is the ability to compare the learner's recommendations with what actually happened. When you know what really happened, it's much easier to evaluate the "correctness" of the answers given.

When to Use a Case Study

As you can see, case studies are powerful and effective training tools. They also work best with practical, applied training, so make sure you use them appropriately.

Remember these tips:

  • Case studies tend to focus on why and how to apply a skill or concept, not on remembering facts and details. Use case studies when understanding the concept is more important than memorizing correct responses.
  • Case studies are great team-building opportunities. When a team gets together to solve a case, they'll have to work through different opinions, methods, and perspectives.
  • Use case studies to build problem-solving skills, particularly those that are valuable when applied, but are likely to be used infrequently. This helps people get practice with these skills that they might not otherwise get.
  • Case studies can be used to evaluate past problem solving. People can be asked what they'd do in that situation, and think about what could have been done differently.

Ensuring Maximum Value From Case Studies

The first thing to remember is that you already need to have enough theoretical knowledge to handle the questions and challenges in the case study. Otherwise, it can be like trying to solve a puzzle with some of the pieces missing.

Here are some additional tips for how to approach a case study. Depending on the exact nature of the case, some tips will be more relevant than others.

  • Read the case at least three times before you start any analysis. Case studies usually have lots of details, and it's easy to miss something in your first, or even second, reading.
  • Once you're thoroughly familiar with the case, note the facts. Identify which are relevant to the tasks you've been assigned. In a good case study, there are often many more facts than you need for your analysis.
  • If the case contains large amounts of data, analyze this data for relevant trends. For example, have sales dropped steadily, or was there an unexpected high or low point?
  • If the case involves a description of a company's history, find the key events, and consider how they may have impacted the current situation.
  • Consider using techniques like SWOT analysis and Porter's Five Forces Analysis to understand the organization's strategic position.
  • Stay with the facts when you draw conclusions. These include facts given in the case as well as established facts about the environmental context. Don't rely on personal opinions when you put together your answers.

Writing a Case Study

You may have to write a case study yourself. These are complex documents that take a while to research and compile. The quality of the case study influences the quality of the analysis. Here are some tips if you want to write your own:

  • Write your case study as a structured story. The goal is to capture an interesting situation or challenge and then bring it to life with words and information. You want the reader to feel a part of what's happening.
  • Present information so that a "right" answer isn't obvious. The goal is to develop the learner's ability to analyze and assess, not necessarily to make the same decision as the people in the actual case.
  • Do background research to fully understand what happened and why. You may need to talk to key stakeholders to get their perspectives as well.
  • Determine the key challenge. What needs to be resolved? The case study should focus on one main question or issue.
  • Define the context. Talk about significant events leading up to the situation. What organizational factors are important for understanding the problem and assessing what should be done? Include cultural factors where possible.
  • Identify key decision makers and stakeholders. Describe their roles and perspectives, as well as their motivations and interests.
  • Make sure that you provide the right data to allow people to reach appropriate conclusions.
  • Make sure that you have permission to use any information you include.

A typical case study structure includes these elements:

  • Executive summary. Define the objective, and state the key challenge.
  • Opening paragraph. Capture the reader's interest.
  • Scope. Describe the background, context, approach, and issues involved.
  • Presentation of facts. Develop an objective picture of what's happening.
  • Description of key issues. Present viewpoints, decisions, and interests of key parties.

Because case studies have proved to be such effective teaching tools, many are already written. Some excellent sources of free cases are The Times 100 , CasePlace.org , and Schroeder & Schroeder Inc . You can often search for cases by topic or industry. These cases are expertly prepared, based mostly on real situations, and used extensively in business schools to teach management concepts.

Case studies are a great way to improve learning and training. They provide learners with an opportunity to solve a problem by applying what they know.

There are no unpleasant consequences for getting it "wrong," and cases give learners a much better understanding of what they really know and what they need to practice.

Case studies can be used in many ways, as team-building tools, and for skill development. You can write your own case study, but a large number are already prepared. Given the enormous benefits of practical learning applications like this, case studies are definitely something to consider adding to your next training session.

Knowles, M. (1973). 'The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species [online].' Available here .

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  • v.7; Jan-Dec 2021

Case Study Analysis as an Effective Teaching Strategy: Perceptions of Undergraduate Nursing Students From a Middle Eastern Country

Vidya seshan.

1 Maternal and Child Health Department, College of Nursing, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 66 Al-Khoudh, Postal Code 123, Muscat, Oman

Gerald Amandu Matua

2 Fundamentals and Administration Department, College of Nursing, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 66 Al-Khoudh, Postal Code 123, Muscat, Oman

Divya Raghavan

Judie arulappan, iman al hashmi, erna judith roach, sheeba elizebath sunderraj, emi john prince.

3 Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Queensland 4111

Background: Case study analysis is an active, problem-based, student-centered, teacher-facilitated teaching strategy preferred in undergraduate programs as they help the students in developing critical thinking skills. Objective: It determined the effectiveness of case study analysis as an effective teacher-facilitated strategy in an undergraduate nursing program. Methodology: A descriptive qualitative research design using focus group discussion method guided the study. The sample included undergraduate nursing students enrolled in the Maternal Health Nursing Course during the Academic Years 2017 and 2018. The researcher used a purposive sampling technique and a total of 22 students participated in the study, through five (5) focus groups, with each focus group comprising between four to six nursing students. Results: In total, nine subthemes emerged from the three themes. The themes were “Knowledge development”, “Critical thinking and Problem solving”, and “Communication and Collaboration”. Regarding “Knowledge development”, the students perceived case study analysis method as contributing toward deeper understanding of the course content thereby helping to reduce the gap between theory and practice especially during clinical placement. The “Enhanced critical thinking ability” on the other hand implies that case study analysis increased student's ability to think critically and aroused problem-solving interest in the learners. The “Communication and Collaboration” theme implies that case study analysis allowed students to share their views, opinions, and experiences with others and this enabled them to communicate better with others and to respect other's ideas which further enhanced their team building capacities. Conclusion: This method is effective for imparting professional knowledge and skills in undergraduate nursing education and it results in deeper level of learning and helps in the application of theoretical knowledge into clinical practice. It also broadened students’ perspectives, improved their cooperation capacity and their communication with each other. Finally, it enhanced student's judgment and critical thinking skills which is key for their success.


Recently, educators started to advocate for teaching modalities that not only transfer knowledge ( Shirani Bidabadi et al., 2016 ), but also foster critical and higher-order thinking and student-centered learning ( Wang & Farmer, 2008 ; Onweh & Akpan, 2014). Therefore, educators need to utilize proven teaching strategies to produce positive outcomes for learners (Onweh & Akpan, 2014). Informed by this view point, a teaching strategy is considered effective if it results in purposeful learning ( Centra, 1993 ; Sajjad, 2010 ) and allows the teacher to create situations that promote appropriate learning (Braskamp & Ory, 1994) to achieve the desired outcome ( Hodges et al., 2020 ). Since teaching methods impact student learning significantly, educators need to continuously test the effectives of their teaching strategies to ensure desired learning outcomes for their students given today's dynamic learning environments ( Farashahi & Tajeddin, 2018 ).

In this study, the researchers sought to study the effectiveness of case study analysis as an active, problem-based, student-centered, teacher-facilitated strategy in a baccalaureate-nursing program. This choice of teaching method is supported by the fact that nowadays, active teaching-learning is preferred in undergraduate programs because, they not only make students more powerful actors in professional life ( Bean, 2011 ; Yang et al., 2013 ), but they actually help learners to develop critical thinking skills ( Clarke, 2010 ). In fact, students who undergo such teaching approaches usually become more resourceful in integrating theory with practice, especially as they solve their case scenarios ( Chen et al., 2019 ; Farashahi & Tajeddin, 2018 ; Savery, 2019 ).

Review of Literature

As a pedagogical strategy, case studies allow the learner to integrate theory with real-life situations as they devise solutions to the carefully designed scenarios ( Farashahi & Tajeddin, 2018 ; Hermens & Clarke, 2009). Another important known observation is that case-study-based teaching exposes students to different cases, decision contexts and the environment to experience teamwork and interpersonal relations as “they learn by doing” thus benefiting from possibilities that traditional lectures hardly create ( Farashahi & Tajeddin, 2018 ; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004 ).

Another merit associated with case study method of teaching is the fact that students can apply and test their perspectives and knowledge in line with the tenets of Kolb et al.'s (2014) “experiential learning model”. This model advocates for the use of practical experience as the source of one's learning and development. Proponents of case study-based teaching note that unlike passive lectures where student input is limited, case studies allow them to draw from their own experience leading to the development of higher-order thinking and retention of knowledge.

Case scenario-based teaching also encourages learners to engage in reflective practice as they cooperate with others to solve the cases and share views during case scenario analysis and presentation ( MsDade, 1995 ).

This method results in “idea marriage” as learners articulate their views about the case scenario. This “idea marriage” phenomenon occurs through knowledge transfer from one situation to another as learners analyze scenarios, compare notes with each other, and develop multiple perspectives of the case scenario. In fact, recent evidence shows that authentic case-scenarios help learners to acquire problem solving and collaborative capabilities, including the ability to express their own views firmly and respectfully, which is vital for future success in both professional and personal lives ( Eronen et al., 2019 ; Yajima & Takahashi, 2017 ). In recognition of this higher education trend toward student-focused learning, educators are now increasingly expected to incorporate different strategies in their teaching.

This study demonstrated that when well implemented, educators can use active learning strategies like case study analysis to aid critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative capabilities in undergraduate students. This study is significant because the findings will help educators in the country and in the region to incorporate active learning strategies such as case study analysis to aid critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative capabilities in undergraduate students. Besides, most studies on the case study method in nursing literature mostly employ quantitative methods. The shortage of published research on the case study method in the Arabian Gulf region and the scanty use of qualitative methods further justify why we adopted the focus group method for inquiry.

A descriptive qualitative research design using focus group discussion method guided the study. The authors chose this method because it is not only inexpensive, flexible, stimulating but it is also known to help with information recall and results in rich data ( Matua et al., 2014 ; Streubert & Carpenter, 2011 ). Furthermore, as evidenced in the literature, the focus group discussion method is often used when there is a need to gain an in-depth understanding of poorly understood phenomena as the case in our study. The choice of this method is further supported by the scarcity of published research related to the use of case study analysis as a teaching strategy in the Middle Eastern region, thereby further justifying the need for an exploratory research approach for our study.

As a recommended strategy, the researchers generated data from information-rich purposively selected group of baccalaureate nursing students who had experienced both traditional lectures and cased-based teaching approaches. The focus group interviews allowed the study participants to express their experiences and perspectives in their own words. In addition, the investigators integrated participants’ self-reported experiences with their own observations and this enhanced the study findings ( Morgan & Bottorff, 2010 ; Nyumba et al., 2018 ; Parker & Tritter, 2006 ).

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible to participate in the study, the participants had to:

  • be a baccalaureate nursing student in College of Nursing, Sultan Qaboos University
  • register for Maternity Nursing Course in 2017 and 2018.
  • attend all the Case Study Analysis sessions in the courses before the study.
  • show a willingness to participate in the study voluntarily and share their views freely.

The population included the undergraduate nursing students enrolled in the Maternal Health Nursing Course during the Academic Years 2017 and 2018.

The researcher used a purposive sampling technique to choose participants who were capable of actively participating and discussing their views in the focus group interviews. This technique enabled the researchers to select participants who could provide rich information and insights about case study analysis method as an effective teaching strategy. The final study sample included baccalaureate nursing students who agreed to participate in the study by signing a written informed consent. In total, twenty-two (22) students participated in the study, through five focus groups, with each focus group comprising between four and six students. The number of participants was determined by the stage at which data saturation was reached. The point of data saturation is when no new information emerges from additional participants interviewed ( Saunders et al., 2018 ).Focus group interviews were stopped once data saturation was achieved. Qualitative research design with focus group discussion allowed the researchers to generate data from information-rich purposively selected group of baccalaureate nursing students who had experienced both traditional lectures and case-based teaching approaches. The focus group interviews allowed the study participants to express their perspectives in their own words. In addition, the investigators enhanced the study findings by integrating participants’ self-reported experiences with the researchers’ own observations and notes during the study.

The study took place at College of Nursing; Sultan Qaboos University, Oman's premier public university, in Muscat. This is the only setting chosen for the study. The participants are the students who were enrolled in Maternal Health Nursing course during 2017 and 2018. The interviews occurred in the teaching rooms after official class hours. Students who did not participate in the study learnt the course content using the traditional lecture based method.

Ethical Considerations

Permission to conduct the study was granted by the College Research and Ethics Committee (XXXX). Prior to the interviews, each participant was informed about the purpose, benefits as well as the risks associated with participating in the study and clarifications were made by the principal researcher. After completing this ethical requirement, each student who accepted to participate in the study proceeded to sign an informed consent form signifying that their participation in the focus group interview was entirely voluntary and based on free will.

The anonymity of study participants and confidentiality of their data was upheld throughout the focus group interviews and during data analysis. To enhance confidentiality and anonymity of the data, each participant was assigned a unique code number which was used throughout data analysis and reporting phases. To further assure the confidentiality of the research data and anonymity of the participants, all research-related data were kept safe, under lock and key and through digital password protection, with unhindered access only available to the research team.

Research Intervention

In Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters, as a method of teaching Maternal Health Nursing course, all students participated in two group-based case study analysis exercises which were implemented in the 7 th and 13 th weeks. This was done after the students were introduced to the case study method using a sample case study prior to the study. The instructor explained to the students how to solve the sample problem, including how to accomplish the role-specific competencies in the courses through case study analysis. In both weeks, each group consisting of six to seven students was assigned to different case scenarios to analyze and work on, after which they presented their collective solution to the case scenarios to the larger class of 40 students. The case scenarios used in both weeks were peer-reviewed by the researchers prior to the study.

Pilot Study

A group of three students participated as a pilot group for the study. However, the students who participated in the pilot study were not included in the final study as is general the principle with qualitative inquiry because of possible prior exposure “contamination”. The purpose of piloting was to gather data to provide guidance for a substantive study focusing on testing the data collection procedure, the interview process including the sequence and number of questions and probes and recording equipment efficacy. After the pilot phase, the lessons learned from the pilot were incorporated to ensure smooth operations during the actual focus group interview ( Malmqvist et al., 2019 .

Data Collection

The focus group interviews took place after the target population was exposed to case study analysis method in Maternal Health Nursing course during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters. Before data collection began, the research team pilot tested the focus group interview guide to ensure that all the guide questions were clear and well understood by study participants.

In total, five (5) focus groups participated in the study, with each group comprising between four and six students. The focus group interviews lasted between 60 and 90 min. In addition to the interview guide questions, participants’ responses to unanswered questions were elicited using prompts to facilitate information flow whenever required. As a best practice, all the interviews were audio-recorded in addition to extensive field notes taken by one of the researchers. The focus group interviews continued until data saturation occurred in all the five (5) focus groups.


In this study, participant's descriptions were digitally audio recorded to ensure that no information was lost. In order to ensure that the results are accurate, verbatim transcriptions of the audio recordings were done supported by interview notes. Furthermore, interpretations of the researcher were verified and supported with existing literature with oversight from the research team.


The researcher provided a detailed description about the study settings, participants, sampling technique, and the process of data collection and analyses. The researcher used verbatim quotes from various participants to aid the transferability of the results.


The researcher ensured that the research process is clearly documented, traceable, and logical to achieve dependability of the research findings. Furthermore, the researcher transparently described the research steps, procedures and process from the start of the research project to the reporting of the findings.


In this study, confirmability of the study findings was achieved through the researcher's efforts to make the findings credible, dependable, and transferable.

Data Analysis

Data were analyzed manually after the lead researcher integrated the verbatim transcriptions with the extensive field notes to form the final data set. Data were analyzed thematically under three thematic areas of a) knowledge development; b) critical thinking and problem solving; and (c) communication and collaboration, which are linked to the study objectives. The researchers used the Six (6) steps approach to conduct a trustworthy thematic analysis: (1) familiarization with the research data, (2) generating initial codes, (3) searching for themes, (4) reviewing the themes, (5) defining and naming themes, (6) writing the report ( Nowell et al., 2017 ).

The analysis process started with each team member individually reading and re-reading the transcripts several times and then identifying meaning units linked to the three thematic areas. The co-authors then discussed in-depth the various meaning units linked to the thematic statements until consensus was reached and final themes emerged based on the study objectives.

A total of 22 undergraduate third-year baccalaureate nursing students who were enrolled in the Maternal Health Nursing Course during the Academic Years 2017 and 2018 participated in the study, through five focus groups, with each group comprising four to six students. Of these, 59% were females and 41% were males. In total, nine subthemes emerged from the three themes. Under knowledge development, emerged the subthemes, “ deepened understanding of content ; “ reduced gap between theory and practice” and “ improved test-taking ability ”. While under Critical thinking and problem solving, emerged the subthemes, “ enhanced critical thinking ability ” and “ heightened curiosity”. The third thematic area of communication and collaboration yielded, “ improved communication ability ”; “ enhanced team-building capacity ”; “ effective collaboration” and “ improved presentation skills ”, details of which are summarized in Table 1 .

Table 1.

Objective Linked Themes and Student Perceptions of Outcome Case Study Analysis.

Theme 1: Knowledge Development

In terms of knowledge development, students expressed delight at the inclusion of case study analysis as a method during their regular theory class. The first subtheme related to knowledge development that supports the adoption of the case study approach is its perceived benefit of ‘ deepened understanding of content ’ by the students as vividly described by this participant:

“ I was able to perform well in the in-course exams as this teaching method enhanced my understanding of the content rather than memorizing ” (FGD#3).

The second subtheme related to knowledge development was informed by participants’ observation that teaching them using case study analysis method ‘ reduced the gap between theory and practice’. This participant's claim stem from the realization that, a case study scenario his group analyzed in the previous week helped him and his colleagues to competently deal with a similar situation during clinical placement the following week, as articulated below:

“ You see when I was caring for mothers in antenatal unit, I could understand the condition better and could plan her care well because me and my group already analyzed a similar situation in class last week which the teacher gave us, this made our work easier in the ward”. (FGD#7).

Another student added that:

“ It was useful as what is taught in the theory class could be applied to the clinical cases.”

This ‘theory-practice’ connection was particularly useful in helping students to better understand how to manage patients with different health conditions. Interestingly, the students reported that they were more likely to link a correct nursing care plan to patients whose conditions were close to the case study scenarios they had already studied in class as herein affirmed:

“ …when in the hospital I felt I could perceive the treatment modality and plan for [a particular] nursing care well when I [had] discussed with my team members and referred the textbook resource while performing case study discussion”. (FGD#17).

In a similar way, another student added:

“…I could relate with the condition I have seen in the clinical area. So this has given me a chance to recall the condition and relate the theory to practice”. (FGD#2) .

The other subtheme closely related to case study scenarios as helping to deepen participant's understanding of the course content, is the notion that this teaching strategy also resulted in ‘ improved test taking-ability’ as this participant's verbatim statement confirms:

“ I could answer the questions related to the cases discussed [much] better during in-course exams. Also [the case scenarios] helped me a great deal to critically think and answer my exam papers” (FGD#11).

Theme 2: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

In this subtheme, students found the case study analysis as an excellent method to learn disease conditions in the two courses. This perceived success with the case study approach is associated with the method's ability to ‘ enhance students’ critical thinking ability’ as this student declares:

“ This method of teaching increased my ability to think critically as the cases are the situations, where we need to think to solve the situation”. (FGD#5)

This enhanced critical thinking ability attributed to case study scenario analysis was also manifested during patient care where students felt it allowed them to experience a “ flow of patient care” leading to better patient management planning as would typically occur during case scenario analysis. In support of this finding, a participant mentioned that:

“ …I could easily connect the flow of patient care provided and hence was able to plan for [his] management as often required during case study discussion” (FGD#12)

Another subtheme linked with this theme is the “ heightened curiosity” associated with the case scenario discussions. It was clear from the findings that the cases aroused curiosity in the mind of the students. This heightened interest meant that during class discussion, baccalaureate nursing students became active learners, eager to discover the next set of action as herein affirmed:

“… from the beginning of discussion with the group, I was eager to find the answer to questions presented and wanted to learn the best way for patient management” (FGD#14)

Theme 3: Communication and Collaboration

In terms of its impact on student communication, the subtheme revealed that case study analysis resulted in “ improved communication ability” among the nursing students . This enhanced ability of students to exchange ideas with each other may be attributed to the close interaction required to discuss and solve their assigned case scenarios as described by the participant below:

“ as [case study analysis] was done in the way of group discussion, I felt me and my friends communicated more within the group as we discussed our condition. We also learnt from each other, and we became better with time.” (FGD#21).

The next subtheme further augments the notion that case study analysis activities helped to “ enhance team-building capacity” of students as this participant affirmatively narrates:

“ students have the opportunity to meet face to face to share their views, opinion, and their experience, as this build on the way they can communicate with each other and respect each other's opinions and enhance team-building”. (FGD#19).

Another subtheme revealed from the findings show that the small groups in which the case analysis occurs allowed the learners to have deeper and more focused conversations with one another, resulting in “ an effective collaboration between students” as herein declared:

“ We could collaborate effectively as we further went into a deep conversation on the case to solve”. (FGD#16).

Similarly, another student noted that:

“ …discussion of case scenarios helped us to prepare better for clinical postings and simulation lab experience” (FGD#5) .

A fourth subtheme related to communication found that students also identified that case study analysis resulted in “ improved presentation skills”. This is attributed in part to the preparation students have to go through as part of their routine case study discussion activities, which include organizing their presentations and justifying and integrating their ideas. Besides readying themselves for case presentations, the advice, motivation, and encouragement such students receive from their faculty members and colleagues makes them better presenters as confirmed below:

“ …teachers gave us enough time to prepare, hence I was able to present in front of the class regarding the finding from our group.” (FGD#16).

In this study, the researches explored learner's perspectives on how one of the active teaching strategies, case study analysis method impacted their knowledge development, critical thinking, and problem solving as well as communication and collaboration ability.

Knowledge Development

In terms of knowledge development, the nursing students perceived case study analysis as contributing toward: (a) deeper understanding of content, (b) reducing gap between theory and practice, and (c) improving test-taking ability. Deeper learning” implies better grasping and retention of course content. It may also imply a deeper understanding of course content combined with learner's ability to apply that understanding to new problems including grasping core competencies expected in future practice situations (Rickles et al., 2019; Rittle-Johnson et al., 2020 ). Deeper learning therefore occurs due to the disequilibrium created by the case scenario, which is usually different from what the learner already knows ( Hattie, 2017 ). Hence, by “forcing” students to compare and discuss various options in the quest to solve the “imbalance” embedded in case scenarios, students dig deeper in their current understanding of a given content including its application to the broader context ( Manalo, 2019 ). This movement to a deeper level of understanding arises from carefully crafted case scenarios that instructors use to stimulate learning in the desired area (Nottingham, 2017; Rittle-Johnson et al., 2020 ). The present study demonstrated that indeed such carefully crafted case study scenarios did encourage students to engage more deeply with course content. This finding supports the call by educators to adopt case study as an effective strategy.

Another finding that case study analysis method helps in “ reducing the gap between theory and practice ” implies that the method helps students to maintain a proper balance between theory and practice, where they can see how theoretical knowledge has direct practical application in the clinical area. Ajani and Moez (2011) argue that to enable students to link theory and practice effectively, nurse educators should introduce them to different aspects of knowledge and practice as with case study analysis. This dual exposure ensures that students are proficient in theory and clinical skills. This finding further amplifies the call for educators to adequately prepare students to match the demands and realities of modern clinical environments ( Hickey, 2010 ). This expectation can be met by ensuring that student's knowledge and skills that are congruent with hospital requirements ( Factor et al., 2017 ) through adoption of case study analysis method which allows integration of clinical knowledge in classroom discussion on regular basis.

The third finding, related to “improved test taking ability”, implies that case study analysis helped them to perform better in their examination, noting that their experience of going through case scenario analysis helped them to answer similar cases discussed in class much better during examinations. Martinez-Rodrigo et al. (2017) report similar findings in a study conducted among Spanish electrical engineering students who were introduced to problem-based cooperative learning strategies, which is similar to case study analysis method. Analysis of student's results showed that their grades and pass rates increased considerably compared to previous years where traditional lecture-based method was used. Similar results were reported by Bonney (2015) in an even earlier study conducted among biology students in Kings Borough community college students, in New York, United States. When student's performance in examination questions covered by case studies was compared with class-room discussions, and text-book reading, case study analysis approach was significantly more effective compared to traditional methods in aiding students’ performance in their examinations. This finding therefore further demonstrates that case study analysis method indeed improves student's test taking ability.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

In terms of critical thinking and problem-solving ability, the use of case study analysis resulted in two subthemes: (a) enhanced critical thinking ability and (b) heightened learner curiosity. The “ enhanced critical thinking ability” implies that case analysis increased student's ability to think critically as they navigated through the case scenarios. This observation agrees with the findings of an earlier questionnaire-based study conducted among 145 undergraduate business administration students at Chittagong University, Bangladesh, that showed 81% of respondents agree that case study analysis develops critical thinking ability and enables students to do better problem analysis ( Muhiuddin & Jahan, 2006 ). This observation agrees with the findings of an earlier study conducted among 145 undergraduate business administration students at Chittagong University, Bangladesh. The study showed that 81% of respondents agreed that case study analysis facilitated the development of critical thinking ability in the learners and enabled the students to perform better with problem analysis ( Muhiuddin & Jahan, 2006 ).

More recently, Suwono et al. (2017) found similar results in a quasi-experimental research conducted at a Malaysian university. The research findings showed that there was a significant difference in biological literacy and critical thinking skills between the students taught using socio-biological case-based learning and those taught using traditional lecture-based learning. The researchers concluded that case-based learning enhanced the biological literacy and critical thinking skills of the students. The current study adds to the existing pedagogical knowledge base that case study methodology can indeed help to deepen learner's critical thinking and problem solving ability.

The second subtheme related to “ heightened learner curiosity” seems to suggest that the case studies aroused problem-solving interest in learners. This observation agrees with two earlier studies by Tiwari et al. (2006) and Flanagan and McCausland (2007) who both reported that most students enjoyed case-based teaching. The authors add that the case study method also improved student's clinical reasoning, diagnostic interpretation of patient information as well as their ability to think logically when presented a challenge in the classroom and in the clinical area. Jackson and Ward (2012) similarly reported that first year engineering undergraduates experienced enhanced student motivation. The findings also revealed that the students venturing self-efficacy increased much like their awareness of the importance of key aspects of the course for their future careers. The authors conclude that the case-based method appears to motivate students to autonomously gather, analyze and present data to solve a given case. The researchers observed enhanced personal and collaborative efforts among the learners, including improved communication ability. Further still, learners were more willing to challenge conventional wisdom, and showed higher “softer” skills after exposure to case analysis based teaching method. These findings like that of the current study indicate that teaching using case based analysis approach indeed motivates students to engage more in their learning, there by resulting in deeper learning.

Communication and Collaboration

Case study analysis is also perceived to result in: (a) improved communication ability; (b) enhanced team -building capacity, (c) effective collaboration ability, and (d) enhanced presentation skills. The “ improved communication ability ” manifested in learners being better able to exchange ideas with peers, communicating their views more clearly and collaborating more effectively with their colleagues to address any challenges that arise. Fini et al. (2018) report comparable results in a study involving engineering students who were subjected to case scenario brainstorming activities about sustainability concepts and their implications in transportation engineering in selected courses. The results show that this intervention significantly improved student's communication skills besides their higher-order cognitive, self-efficacy and teamwork skills. The researchers concluded that involving students in brainstorming activities related to problem identification including their practical implications, is an effective teaching strategy. Similarly, a Korean study by Park and Choi (2018) that sought to analyze the effects of case-based communication training involving 112 sophomore nursing students concluded that case-based training program improved the students’ critical thinking ability and communication competence. This finding seems to support further the use of case based teaching as an effective teaching-learning strategy.

The “ enhanced team-building capacity” arose from the opportunity students had in sharing their views, opinions, and experiences where they learned to communicate with each other and respect each other's ideas which further enhance team building. Fini et al. (2018) similarly noted that increased teamwork levels were seen among their study respondents when the researchers subjected engineering students to case scenario based-brainstorming activities as occurs with case study analysis teaching. Likewise, Lairamore et al. (2013) report similar results in their study that showed that case study analysis method increased team work ability and readiness among students from five health disciplines in a US-based study.

The finding that case study analysis teaching method resulted in “ effective collaboration ability” among students manifested as students entered into deep conversation as they solved the case scenarios. Rezaee and Mosalanejad (2015) assert that such innovative learning strategies result in noticeable educational outcomes, such as greater satisfaction with and enjoyment of the learning process ( Wellmon et al., 2012 ). Further, positive attitudes toward learning and collaboration have been noted leading to deeper learning as students prepare for case discussions ( Rezaee & Mosalanejad, 2015 ). This results show that case study analysis can be utilized by educators to foster professional collaboration among their learners, which is one of the key expectations of new graduates today.

The finding associated with “improved presentation skills” is consistent with the results of a descriptive study in Saudi Arabia that compared case study and traditional lectures in the teaching of physiology course to undergraduate nursing students. The researchers found that case-based teaching improved student’ overall knowledge and performance in the course including facilitating the acquisition of skills compared to traditional lectures ( Majeed, 2014 ). Noblitt et al. (2010) report similar findings in their study that compares traditional presentation approach with the case study method for developing and improving student's oral communication skills. This finding extends our understanding that case study method improves learners’ presentation skills.

The study was limited to level third year nursing students belonging to only one college and the sample size, which might limit the transferability of the study findings to other settings.

Implications for Practice

These study findings add to the existing body of knowledge that places case study based teaching as a tested method that promotes perception learning where students’ senses are engaged as a result of the real-life and authentic clinical scenarios ( Malesela, 2009 ), resulting in deeper learning and achievement of long-lasting knowledge ( Fiscus, 2018 ). The students reported that case scenario discussions broadened their perspectives, improved their cooperation capacity and communication with each other. This teaching method, in turn, offers students an opportunity to enhance their judgment and critical thinking skills by applying theory into practice.

These skills are critically important because nurses need to have the necessary knowledge and skills to plan high quality care for their patients to achieve a speedy recovery. In order to attain this educational goal, nurse educators have to prepare students through different student- centered strategies. The findings of our study appear to show that when appropriately used, case-based teaching results in acquisition of disciplinary knowledge manifested by deepened understanding of course content, as well as reducing the gap between theory and practice and enhancing learner's test-taking-ability. The study also showed that cased based teaching enhanced learner's critical thinking ability and curiosity to seek and acquire a deeper knowledge. Finally, the study results indicate that case study analysis results in improved communication and enhanced team-building capacity, collaborative ability and improved oral communication and presentation skills. The study findings and related evidence from literature show that case study analysis is well- suited approach for imparting knowledge and skills in baccalaureate nursing education.

This study evaluated the usefulness of Case Study Analysis as a teaching strategy. We found that this method of teaching helps encourages deeper learning among students. For instructors, it provides the opportunity to tailor learning experiences for students to undertake in depth study in order to stimulate deeper understanding of the desired content. The researchers conclude that if the cases are carefully selected according to the level of the students, and are written realistically and creatively and the group discussions keep students well engaged, case study analysis method is more effective than other traditional lecture methods in facilitating deeper and transferable learning/skills acquisition in undergraduate courses.

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

ORCID iD: Judie Arulappan https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2788-2755

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  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 22, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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why case study is important for students

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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Five Benefits of the Case-Based Study Method

M.S. in Commerce Student Ryann Sheehy discusses the benefits of the case-based study method.

M.S. in Commerce student ambassador Ryann Sheehy

Ryann Sheehy

M.S. in Commerce 2022

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When I first began the process of applying to graduate school, one of my biggest questions was how the work I did during my undergraduate years would compare to what would be expected of me in a graduate program. Many of my fears surrounded how difficult the homework and projects would be or how much time I’d have to spend in the library. Instead, what I found was that it wasn’t the subjective difficulty of a course or the number of hours I put into an assignment that was so different, but the overall shift in thinking we were being asked to make.

In the first few weeks of the M.S. in Commerce Program , my classmates and I were tasked with learning the language and tools of business quickly. And, in no better way was this achieved than through the case-based approach taken by our professors.

What is the case-based study method?

The case-based study method is a learning tool that allows students to read about a company and discuss their approaches to solving a presented problem faced by the firm. While this method is widely used in MBA programs, McIntire employs it across all of its programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level to challenge its students to apply practical business skills and course concepts.

How is it utilized in the classroom?

During the fall semester in the M.S. in Commerce Program, every class you take in the core curriculum will involve discussions of cases. Although the Strategy course taught by Professor Ira Harris will tackle the largest number of cases, every class from Accounting to Marketing will ask you to think critically about a real-life case whether in your small groups or as part of a larger class discussion.

So, why is the case-based approach used at McIntire, and what can it do for you? Here are five tangible benefits I’ve seen from this method that I believe give M.S. in Commerce students an advantage in the marketplace.

1. Discuss real-world scenarios

One of the most important learning objectives of the case-based study method—and, perhaps, the most obvious—is the practice with real-world scenarios. Professor Andrea Roberts, who teaches Cost Accounting in the fall semester, equates studying cases as the next best thing to actually placing students inside a real company. Many of the cases we are assigned are based on companies you may have heard of or have a personal experience with such as Trader Joe’s, Delta Air Lines, Peloton, and Wawa.

The emphasis on the real is even more clear in our Accounting classes, as we’re tasked with sifting through and interpreting actual financial statements taken directly from company reports. Roberts says one of the main objectives of these cases is to allow students to practice gathering information and figuring out what is relevant or even correctly stated. During our Cost Accounting class this semester, the case project we completed on the Alltel Pavilion was based on a real outdoor arena and included checking the financial reports for errors before calculating the answers. Although we are assigned some textbook problems to nail down the basic concepts, Roberts says it’s important to have experience with problems as they appear in practice—not nicely formatted or easily interpreted.

2. Learn from your peers

The deep level of diversity present across the program provides many opportunities for students to learn as much from their peers as they do from the professors. Phil Choi, a Business Analytics concentrator, said, “I actually do think that the M.S. in Commerce is really diverse. It’s not just a marketing thing; it actually is. The case approach takes advantage of that because you get to hear other people—their diverse experiences, whether that’s internships, whether that’s undergrad majors, or cultural diversity.” During in-class case discussions, students are encouraged to speak about their unique perspectives, since there are often many ways to look at the problem at hand. Choi said the case approach helps students who may be more reserved become comfortable with speaking their mind, as well as helps outspoken classmates learn to value other points of view.

3. Become comfortable with ambiguity

While many students may be used to finding the one best answer to a problem, in many of the cases we discuss, there truly is no perfect or “right” solution. Roberts describes this process as becoming “comfortable with the uncomfortableness.” While this change may be shocking to some students, it’s one of the most helpful lessons to learn before entering the workforce because your employer will not have an answer key to evaluate you with, nor will you be given all the necessary information in a neatly organized problem. The uncertainty pushes you to become more creative and look at all the options before deciding. As Harris teaches in Strategy, you cannot always make the right choice, but you can make an informed one.

4. Practice applying course concepts

Besides giving students real-world practice, one of the main objectives of studying cases is to practice applying the analytical tools and course concepts from class. For example, the case Harris calls a kind of “mid-range capstone” was the Delta Air Lines case we discussed after learning about benchmarking. Not only did the case cause us to discuss what makes successful versus failed benchmarking strategies, it also pulled together many of the concepts we had learned earlier in the semester. The connection between each case and a specific concept is also made clear, because we often discuss a new concept for the first part of class and then apply it to the case in the second half. This study method ultimately serves as a great way for students to test their overall understanding and ability to use the concepts taught in class when faced with a real issue.

5. Improve critical thinking and decision making

Last, but not least, cases are one of the main ways the M.S. in Commerce Program improves your ability to think critically and make informed decisions. In Roberts’ opinion, “Everything that you learn in M.S. in Commerce is providing information and tools so that you can make a decision.” Harris echoed that sentiment when he said, “When we talk about analytical thinking, when we talk about problem solving, it almost always is the use of a few different tools in order to gain some sort of a better understanding and to solve something that a company is facing.” At the end of the program, these cases will have served to improve your gut instincts and your ability to think quickly in future decision-making situations—a skill that you will need in everything from job interviews to your future day-to-day work.

What can prospective students do to prepare for this method of learning?

Harris recommends that prospective students begin familiarizing themselves with real-world business cases as soon as possible in order to gain a surface-level understanding of some of the key concepts and vocabulary that will come up in your McIntire courses. This is as easy as subscribing to and reading some of the world’s most popular business press such as The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. Some of your current institutions may even give you free access to these sources.

If you’re interested in learning more about the case-based study method feel free to reach out to any of the current student ambassadors .

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What is the Impact and Importance of Case Study in Education?

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Before we explain the significance of case study in education these days for high education, let us explain the first, ‘What is a case study? However, it consists of three major parts that you need to consider for writing. Starting with a problem, outline different available solutions, and offer proven results exhibits that the product or service is an optimum solution for the problem.

Importance of Case Study in Education

What is a Case Study in Education?

Well, a case study is a method of research regarding any specific questions, which allows a person to investigate why and how it happens. Based on education, a case study is that who can use the research for many purposes. It lets the student describe various factors and interaction with each other in authentic contexts. It offers multiple learning opportunities and experiences for scholars by influencing the diverse practice of theories.

Importance of Case Study in Education

It is also considered the source of valuable data regarding diversity and complexity of educational commitments and settings. It plays a vital role in putting theories into regular practice. It is always necessary for the student to realize the clarity in nature and focus of the case study. Considering the significance, Casestudyhelp.com brings the best Case Study Help Any Academic Level for students exerting for acquiring top grades.

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What are the Advantages of Case Studies in Class ?

Case studies are assigned to higher classes students, which proved very beneficial to the students, especially in the classroom. Students can actively engage in the discovery of the principles by conceptualizing from the examples. Furthermore, they develop skills like

  • Problem-solving
  • Coping with ambiguities
  • Analytical/ quantitative/qualitative tools according to the case and
  • Decision making in complex situations

Method of a Writing Case Study at Casestudyhelp.com!

When teachers give students a Case Study Topic by a teacher, they have to attack each case with the following checklist or go for best and reasonable Case Study Help for Any Topic at casestudyhelp.com!

  • Thoroughly read the case and formulate own opinions before sharing ideas with others in the class. You must identify the problems on your own, and offer solutions and best alternatives alongside. Before the study converses, you need to form your own outline and course of action.
  • Focus on the three major parts of a case study considering the starting with a problem, outline different accessible solutions, offer predictable results that exhibit the product/service is an optimal solution for the problem.
  • Prepare to engage in data collection, collecting data in the field, carry out data evaluation and analysis to write the report.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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Why I Should Do My Case Study

Students don’t find it an exciting thing to write case studies. but, they often forget the importance of academics. From creating new ideas to letting you have better abilities for yourself, well crafted case studies can provide various reasons to a student. Anytime in your academic career, your tutors will ask you to explain to them the beneficial value of writing a case study by making one. However, when students are looking for someone to do my case study, they should remember that your case studies are composed of diverse topics.

That’s right. It is one of the crucial reasons for writing a case study . That means writing case studies will not only be restricted to one topic but there will be plenty of them.

Here Are The Helpful 10 Reasons Why I Should Do My Case Study 

Writing case studies can be tiring but on the other hand, it’s fun to do it. Students get to know various aspects of the topic while they conduct thoughtful researchers for their case studies. However, these points are not convincing enough. That’s why we have come up with our top 10 legit reasons why a student should make a case study.

1. Knowledge

We all have heard about the term ‘knowledge is power. Similarly, it works the same way with case study writing as well. The more knowledge you will have about your case study, the more awareness you will have at the end of writing. Especially if students are dealing with technical topics, gaining knowledge about them will only help in several ways.

2. Cognitive Abilities

It is also a known fact that case study writing will get you a broader horizon for testing your cognitive skills. It is one of the essential aspects that can lead you to a better understanding of your topic.

3. Writing Skills

Your writing abilities can become more powerful by writing any piece of content. But, making case studies flourishes your skills in a lot of different ways. You might wonder how? Well, the constant research and in depth analysis of the content helps you in writing a good paper. Hence, it automatically gives you more confidence with writing.

4. Research Intelligence 

Don’t forget the importance of research while writing a case study. One of the most helpful reasons for making a case study paper is to have the courage to conduct research. Writing can greatly enhance your research powers.

5. Analytical Powers

It’s just not the research or writing skills but, writing a case study also leads to a heavy impact on your analytical skills. These abilities will serve you for a lifetime in your academics.

6 . Time Management 

Nobody talks about this important aspect of time management. It is vital for any activity or task. Therefore, it is a crucial gain that students can enjoy. Do proper time management, and you are good to go with your case study writing.

7. Appreciation

As everybody likes to get appreciated, the customers have no exemption in it. Through your case studies, you can put your customers and companies in the spotlight for problem-solving-related tasks.

8. Great for New Ideas

When done while conducting exploratory research, the case studies can greatly help in generating vibrant new ideas. Later, they can help make theories. Moreover, it can also help you depict different aspects of a person’s life.

9. Effective In Teaching

Writing case studies can serve to be a great tool in developing the qualitative and qualitative skills of the students. Through teaching, it’s easier to figure out the principles through live examples.

10. Good for Marketing  

Case studies are the famous marketing strategy for promoting one’s products and services. It’s easier to showcase the services in a broader way rather than just talking about them.

Related: Where Can I Go To Do Case Study Away From My House 

Best Websites To Do My Case Study    

The best website that can deal with your case studies with utmost perfection is thecasestudysolutions.com. Your constant tension to look for who can do my case study for me in the US will get finished right away.

Why Is Writing Case Study Important?

Undoubtedly, writing a compelling case study is a great achievement for any student. But, one doesn’t forget the real essence of it. One of the main reasons why writing a case study is important has a lot to do with your grades. It can give you a clear opportunity to gain good ranks. Your grades can take you to another milestone in academics. Hence, making a good case study paper is crucial. Similarly, mastering it with great content is important too. For these purposes, students keep on searching the internet to find authentic help. They look around asking others if someone can do my case study services like no other. Students can find many such platforms, but our help is different. We have a good command of the essentially of writing an error free case study. Our writers know all the relevant guidelines that are essential for making a flawless case study.

Can Someone Do My Case Study For Money?

Are you stressing over your case studies? We understand the struggle of students who cannot find the right way to do their case studies. Indeed, it’s not like any other normal paper. It requires significant guidelines and formatting. Hence, it becomes nearly impossible for them to look for any company that can do their case study for money.

At Thecasestudysolutions.com , we have the best team with us on board. Our writers can provide high quality and well formatted case studies at reasonable prices. We don’t believe in charging more for our services. Hence, students can freely get our help, while we have explained the best reasons why you should write your case study.

We hope our effort to let you know the importance of writing a case study has been fulfilled with this piece of content. Just as writing is an important aspect of academics, similarly the right way to make it is equally essential. When students are searching for the answer to finding credible help. They can always trust us. We promise to let you have the best experience.

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  • Roberta Heale 1 ,
  • Alison Twycross 2
  • 1 School of Nursing , Laurentian University , Sudbury , Ontario , Canada
  • 2 School of Health and Social Care , London South Bank University , London , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Roberta Heale, School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON P3E2C6, Canada; rheale{at}laurentian.ca


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What is it?

Case study is a research methodology, typically seen in social and life sciences. There is no one definition of case study research. 1 However, very simply… ‘a case study can be defined as an intensive study about a person, a group of people or a unit, which is aimed to generalize over several units’. 1 A case study has also been described as an intensive, systematic investigation of a single individual, group, community or some other unit in which the researcher examines in-depth data relating to several variables. 2

Often there are several similar cases to consider such as educational or social service programmes that are delivered from a number of locations. Although similar, they are complex and have unique features. In these circumstances, the evaluation of several, similar cases will provide a better answer to a research question than if only one case is examined, hence the multiple-case study. Stake asserts that the cases are grouped and viewed as one entity, called the quintain . 6  ‘We study what is similar and different about the cases to understand the quintain better’. 6

The steps when using case study methodology are the same as for other types of research. 6 The first step is defining the single case or identifying a group of similar cases that can then be incorporated into a multiple-case study. A search to determine what is known about the case(s) is typically conducted. This may include a review of the literature, grey literature, media, reports and more, which serves to establish a basic understanding of the cases and informs the development of research questions. Data in case studies are often, but not exclusively, qualitative in nature. In multiple-case studies, analysis within cases and across cases is conducted. Themes arise from the analyses and assertions about the cases as a whole, or the quintain, emerge. 6

Benefits and limitations of case studies

If a researcher wants to study a specific phenomenon arising from a particular entity, then a single-case study is warranted and will allow for a in-depth understanding of the single phenomenon and, as discussed above, would involve collecting several different types of data. This is illustrated in example 1 below.

Using a multiple-case research study allows for a more in-depth understanding of the cases as a unit, through comparison of similarities and differences of the individual cases embedded within the quintain. Evidence arising from multiple-case studies is often stronger and more reliable than from single-case research. Multiple-case studies allow for more comprehensive exploration of research questions and theory development. 6

Despite the advantages of case studies, there are limitations. The sheer volume of data is difficult to organise and data analysis and integration strategies need to be carefully thought through. There is also sometimes a temptation to veer away from the research focus. 2 Reporting of findings from multiple-case research studies is also challenging at times, 1 particularly in relation to the word limits for some journal papers.

Examples of case studies

Example 1: nurses’ paediatric pain management practices.

One of the authors of this paper (AT) has used a case study approach to explore nurses’ paediatric pain management practices. This involved collecting several datasets:

Observational data to gain a picture about actual pain management practices.

Questionnaire data about nurses’ knowledge about paediatric pain management practices and how well they felt they managed pain in children.

Questionnaire data about how critical nurses perceived pain management tasks to be.

These datasets were analysed separately and then compared 7–9 and demonstrated that nurses’ level of theoretical did not impact on the quality of their pain management practices. 7 Nor did individual nurse’s perceptions of how critical a task was effect the likelihood of them carrying out this task in practice. 8 There was also a difference in self-reported and observed practices 9 ; actual (observed) practices did not confirm to best practice guidelines, whereas self-reported practices tended to.

Example 2: quality of care for complex patients at Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics (NPLCs)

The other author of this paper (RH) has conducted a multiple-case study to determine the quality of care for patients with complex clinical presentations in NPLCs in Ontario, Canada. 10 Five NPLCs served as individual cases that, together, represented the quatrain. Three types of data were collected including:

Review of documentation related to the NPLC model (media, annual reports, research articles, grey literature and regulatory legislation).

Interviews with nurse practitioners (NPs) practising at the five NPLCs to determine their perceptions of the impact of the NPLC model on the quality of care provided to patients with multimorbidity.

Chart audits conducted at the five NPLCs to determine the extent to which evidence-based guidelines were followed for patients with diabetes and at least one other chronic condition.

The three sources of data collected from the five NPLCs were analysed and themes arose related to the quality of care for complex patients at NPLCs. The multiple-case study confirmed that nurse practitioners are the primary care providers at the NPLCs, and this positively impacts the quality of care for patients with multimorbidity. Healthcare policy, such as lack of an increase in salary for NPs for 10 years, has resulted in issues in recruitment and retention of NPs at NPLCs. This, along with insufficient resources in the communities where NPLCs are located and high patient vulnerability at NPLCs, have a negative impact on the quality of care. 10

These examples illustrate how collecting data about a single case or multiple cases helps us to better understand the phenomenon in question. Case study methodology serves to provide a framework for evaluation and analysis of complex issues. It shines a light on the holistic nature of nursing practice and offers a perspective that informs improved patient care.

  • Gustafsson J
  • Calanzaro M
  • Sandelowski M

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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Why Are Case Studies Important? Top 4 Reasons

Updated February 2023: Has a boss or colleague ever asked you, “Why are case studies so important?” This is a question all SaaS marketers must be able to answer, especially when it comes time to create your marketing budget for the year.

SaaS case studies are the #1 marketing tactic to increase sales

The importance of a case study can’t be underestimated. For the second year in a row, SaaS marketers ranked case studies the #1 most effective marketing tactic to increase sales —ahead of general website content, SEO, blog posts, social media and other marketing tactics. 

Marketers rank case studies at #1 most important marketing tactic to increase sales

These metrics come from the 123 SaaS marketers we surveyed for our 2023 SaaS Case Studies Trends & Insights Report . (We’d encourage you to check out the report.)

Importance of a case study is undeniable

Why are case studies so important? What is the need and significance of a case study? Case studies are top-tier marketing tools for SaaS companies to showcase the value of their products to potential customers, helping to drive sales and revenue.

Customers are our best marketers. I love getting to know our customers through these stories, especially because documenting their successes helps advance their careers and gives more senior leaders the chance to celebrate their teams.

Megan Donaldson

Why are case studies important in marketing?

Case studies are essentially a play-by-play of how your customer recognized that they had a challenge they needed to overcome, why they chose you, what products or services you provided, and how those products or services helped them solve their challenge.

And what makes case studies even more valuable? They’re a great investment because case studies can be repurposed so heavily —everything from PDFs and videos to infographics to social.

In this post, we’ll demonstrate the importance of a case study in business and discuss the top 4 advantages of using case studies in your marketing mix.

Need a hand with writing case studies? We are a SaaS content marketing agency that specializes in writing case studies for companies like ClickUp, WalkMe and LeanData. Check out our case study writing services .

What are 4 advantages of case studies?

1. case studies demonstrate your expertise in your niche.

why case study is important for students

As a SaaS marketer, your job is to know how to produce a business case study in a way that makes your product or service stand out among your competitors.

Creating case studies is an effective way to capture the attention of buyers in your industry because the content—including the products, services and use cases covered in the piece—will be highly relevant to your target audience and will therefore have a strong chance of resonating with them.

If you’re still wondering, “Why are case studies important?”, then put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Say you’re evaluating several different customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. All three vendors have an eye-catching website with informative and clever product copy, but only one has a repository of case studies that illustrate how its clients have landed 50% more sales since they’ve implemented this particular CRM. Sounds like a winner to us (and it demonstrates case study importance)!

Case studies are important because our prospects want to see that we’ve helped customers who are in the same industry and have similar pain points. Reference calls are helpful, but it’s important to have stories that sales folks can share easily.  

Michelle Cloutier

2. Case studies provide social proof in an original way

why case study is important for students

What is the importance of a case study? Well, nearly 90% of consumers read product reviews before they make a purchase, which means gathering and publishing social proof is a crucial activity for your SaaS company.

Changing consumer behavior is another reason why case studies are important. Case studies give your readers what they’re looking for, which is confirmation from other B2B buyers just like them that your products and services are the real deal.

Another advantage of case studies is that by nature, they’re original stories about individuals with specific challenges and goals. Knowing how to write a case study that goes beyond generic product reviews is critical.

When writing a case study, dig deep into everything from how your team helps customers implement your software to what your customer’s future use cases could include. This type of content gives your prospect thorough insight into what it’s like to use your products and work with your company.

Case studies offer social proof for how we provide value to our customers. Our sales team uses our case studies to build credibility and offer “proof points” for why (and how) Crossbeam can solve their problems.

Jasmine Jenkins

3. Case studies help your SaaS company close sales

why case study is important for students

Let’s quickly recap the last 2 points:

1) Case studies capture your buyers’ attention with highly relevant content that positions your SaaS company as an expert in the products or services you deliver.

2) Case studies also build trust by sharing social proof in an interesting format that uses storytelling to weave a narrative. For those two reasons, case studies are fantastic content marketing tools to help you close sales. 

In addition, especially if your offerings are complex, it’s essential to help potential customers understand how your software will meet their needs. Case studies give you an opportunity to explain— with real-world examples and visual aids —the more complicated aspects of your products and services.

Case studies are important because they provide real-life examples of positive customer outcomes and sentiment—a critical part of gaining buy-in from prospects during a sales cycle.

Jake Sotir

4. Strengthen customer relationships

why case study is important for students

If you’re hesitant to ask your customers to participate in case studies, you’re not alone. It’s normal to feel like you might be imposing on a customer by asking them to take time out of their busy schedule for an interview, but chances are they’d be happy to help you craft a case study to illustrate your mutual success working together.

When it comes to the question, “Why are case studies important?”, one of the best answers is that they can help you strengthen customer relationships by letting your customers know you believe they have a valuable story. This gesture of goodwill can increase customer retention, which can in turn grow your SaaS company’s revenue by as much as 95% .

Case studies are important because they give you the opportunity to celebrate an existing customer, which in and of itself is of immense value. Secondarily, for both customers and prospects alike, they always prefer to “see someone like them” rather than just hear you spew what-ifs at them.

Patrick Clore

Need a hand with your case studies ?

Now that you understand why case studies are so important, it’s time to take action—and we can help.

As a SaaS content marketing agency , we write case studies for high-growth B2B SaaS companies like ClickUp, WalkMe and Okta. Check out our case study writing service then get in touch.

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As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads her team in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and blog posts for high-growth SaaS companies like ClickUp, Calendly and WalkMe. Connect with Emily on Linkedin

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Why Continuous Learning Matters in Your Human Resources Career

Two womens hands shake in greeting across a table

If you aspire to embark on a career that allows you to truly shape the future of the workforce, working in human resources (HR) could be the right path for you. Human resource professionals help businesses optimize their recruiting and hiring  processes, compensation and benefits policies, and training and development, all while improving workplace culture and keeping operations running smoothly. In many ways, human resource professionals influence nearly all aspects of a business—and they can make an immensely positive difference in the lives of employees.

As with any field, however, the human resources industry is constantly changing and evolving. Those considering careers in HR must be prepared for a lifetime of learning in order to follow the latest in HR practices and maximize their career advancement.

Definition of Continuous Learning

What exactly is continuous learning as it relates to human resources, and what does it entail? Specifically, this concept refers to the ongoing educational research and development that HR professionals are expected to pursue beyond their degrees, throughout their careers. This is to keep them on top of the latest innovations, changes, and advancements in the field.

In the realm of human resources, continuous learning usually includes HR professionals attending research conferences, conducting their own independent research, serving as guest speakers or mentors, pursuing additional certifications, or attending professional development courses.

At the end of the day, if you're eager to be the best human resources professional you can be, you should embrace the idea of lifelong learning and continuous education. This in turn will allow you to best serve your own employees while maximizing your earning potential.

7 Reasons Continuous Learning Is Crucial in HR

Continuous learning is important in just about any dynamic industry where innovations and changes occur regularly. However, it is perhaps particularly critical in the world of human resources for a number of key reasons.

1. Adapting to Rapid Technological Changes

The field of human resources is changing daily, and HR professionals have a serious obligation to stay on top of the latest technological changes as they occur. This is especially true when it comes to new software and other technologies (such as learning management systems) that can improve employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention. By being aware of these new resources as they become available, HR professionals can be among the first to implement them and reap the benefits in their own workplaces.

2. Regulatory and Compliance Updates

Human resources professionals are also tasked with staying up to date on the most recent changes in regulatory and compliance laws. No matter what industry in which you find yourself working, there's a good chance your company will be governed by regulatory boards—and that you will be responsible for making sure everyone receives the necessary HR compliance training to avoid major fines, penalties, and other legal issues.

By embracing continuous learning in your career, you can stay on top of these changes before they happen so you (and your employees) are prepared.

3. Enhancing Employee Engagement and Retention

A lack of employee engagement and high turnover rates are common problems in today's modern workplace, and HR professionals are often the ones tasked with troubleshooting them. Unfortunately, without proactive learning, HR professionals cannot expect to understand the ever-changing factors that can contribute to these issues—as well as the most effective strategies and methods for resolving them. By staying informed as an HR professional, you can better serve your organization by spearheading the appropriate initiatives to improve employee engagement and retention.

4. Building a More Inclusive Workplace

Employees are choosing to work for companies where diversity, equity, and inclusivity are core values. These companies turn to their HR teams to implement DEI initiatives, work toward cultural competence, and make these workplaces more accepting and welcoming environments for everybody.

In recent years, there have been so many advancements in the world of DEI and its role in employee satisfaction. HR professionals committed to continuous learning are able to keep up with these advancements and make the appropriate improvements in their respective workplaces.

5. Supporting Organizational Growth and Strategy

Human resources professionals are often turned to for guidance regarding overall organizational growth and the resulting strategy of such a growth plan. With ongoing education and training, HR professionals can be better equipped and prepared to lead their companies forward with innovative and successful plans of action. In this sense, well-educated HR professionals can enhance their own leadership development and be looked upon as true thought leaders themselves.

6. Cultivating a Culture of Resilience and Adaptability

Regardless of the industry in which you find yourself working as an HR professional, you will be tasked with supporting and fostering a culture of resilience and adaptability to stay ahead of the competition and set your business apart from others. As the industry evolves and changes, HR professionals need to be prepared to adapt their own practices and employee training programs to remain relevant. A commitment to ongoing learning helps ensure you have the tools and strategies at your disposal to make this happen.

7. Staying Competitive in the Talent Market

Last but not least, staying on top of your HR training will help you remain competitive in the ever-changing talent market. Right now, most industries across the United States and the globe are struggling to recruit and bring in talent due to an ongoing skills gap. Some HR teams and hiring managers are understanding the need to get creative in their recruiting efforts to draw quality applicants.

By having the most recent education and training on human resource best practices for recruiting top talent and staying competitive, HR professionals can help their businesses overcome this common problem with optimal talent management strategies.

Tips for Implementing Continuous Learning in HR

Continuous learning is undoubtedly a significant aspect of professional development in HR. It's something to constantly be thinking about in the context of your own career advancement and growth.

So, what are some practical ways you can go about implementing this concept into your work as an HR professional? Start by exploring opportunities that may already be out there. Ask your own management if there are any company-wide training programs or sponsorships that could help you grow your industry knowledge. This may include sponsorship to attend an HR conference or funding additional certifications in your field.

From there, take time to explore other opportunities that may be available to you. If you're interested in researching a topic, for example, pitch that idea to your boss. If there's a way to work it into the budget, it's likely your management team would be happy to see the initiative on your end. Meanwhile, you can study and research something you are truly passionate about, whether it be employee retention, cultural competence, or any other HR topic.

Learn More, Today

Working in human resource development can be an extremely rewarding career, especially when you get to see your own HR regulations, employee training programs, diversity training, and other initiatives make a difference in the lives of your fellow employees. Still, with HR being such a dynamic field, there is always room for continuous and adaptive learning to achieve the best version of your professional self.

Looking to get the ball rolling on, or build upon, an exciting career in human resources? The University of Minnesota's College of Continuing & Professional Studies is here to help with programs in human resources and talent development . With areas of study ranging from Human Resource Generalist to Organization Development and more, you're sure to find a program that interests you. Request more information or reach out to get started today!  

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Affirmative action critics paint Asian Americans as the ‘model minority.’ Why that's false.

why case study is important for students

  • The cases before the Supreme Court argue race-conscious admissions penalize Asian American students.
  • Asian Americans are an especially diverse demographic group with wide-ranging educational experiences and outcomes.
  • Advocates say many Asian American applicants benefit from affirmative action.

Asian Americans are widely stereotyped as studious, smart and hardworking. As minorities who have managed to overcome racial obstacles to success. As evidence that affirmative action is no longer necessary – or, even, that it hurts the very types of students it's meant to protect. 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases Monday challenging race-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in part on the grounds that they discriminate against Asian applicants. The plaintiffs, Students for Fair Admissions, argue that admissions officers at Harvard in particular, by subscribing to this “model minority” stereotype, hold Asian applicants to a higher standard and discriminate against such students in subjective portions of the application process . 

Admitted students of Asian descent have higher standardized test scores than their peers, and a 2018 analysis of Harvard’s admissions data conducted on behalf of the plaintiffs concluded Asian applicants are effectively penalized in subjective ratings of their personalities. Some students have said the perception of these biases compelled them to downplay their Asian identities on applications to Harvard and other elite schools.

But that doesn't necessarily mean affirmative action is to blame. There's a lot more to the issue than that. It's also important to remember that the lead architect of these cases – a man named Ed Blum who is neither a recent student nor Asian American – and other affirmative action critics tend to invoke those same stereotypes in condemning race-conscious admissions. 

The argument that affirmative action categorically hurts Asian Americans rests on generalizations about the diverse racial group – that they tend to be high-achieving and well-off. 

“Asian Americans are not your model minority, we are not a monolith in terms of our communities’ needs, and can't be used against other communities of color – we can't allow that to happen,” said Sally Chen, a recent Harvard grad who testified on behalf of the university in the case’s 2018 trial in a U.S. district court, in a recent call with reporters. 

Chen, now a program manager at the San Francisco-based Chinese for Affirmative Action, was a first-generation college student, her parents immigrants from China who worked menial jobs, spoke limited English and raised the family of six in a one-bedroom apartment. Those circumstances fostered Chen’s resilience, leadership skills and compassion for others – qualities that, records show, bolstered her application to the Ivy League institution.

“Having this context made me a much stronger applicant to college, maybe more than just numbers on a page,” Chen said. “Asian Americans need affirmative action as well.”

Affirmative action case: Supreme Court signals skepticism of race-conscious college admissions

Asian American diversity

Among the approximately 23 million Americans of Asian descent , the largest ethnic groups are Chinese and Indian, with populations of roughly 5 million each, followed by Filipino (4.2 million), Vietnamese (2.2 million), Korean (1.9 million) and Japanese (1.5 million). 

But the population is far more diverse. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise more than 50 different ethnic groups with varying languages, immigration histories and educational experiences. 

Asian American students typically score higher than their peers of other races on standardized tests such as the SAT. Among 2020 high school graduates, for example, Asian students who took the SAT scored an average of 632 on the math section, compared with 547 for white students; the average math score overall was 523 (out of 800). Asian students also graduate from high school at higher rates, and with higher average GPAs . 

Given these outcomes, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Asian Americans attend the country’s most selective colleges at higher rates than people of other races. 

Especially in the past few years amid renewed attention on affirmative action, according to research published in May by the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, their share of the student populations at most of the Ivies has steadily grown – most notably at Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. At Harvard, they account for more than a quarter of undergraduate students, compared with 5% of the U.S. public school population. 

But the picture is more complicated. Elite colleges are a small subset of the U.S. higher education landscape, just as the Asian students who attend them are a small subset of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in U.S. higher education. 

“The majority of Asian Americans going to college are not going to these über selective colleges,” said Natasha Warikoo, a sociology professor who studies racial inequities in education and has written several relevant books, most recently " Is Affirmative Action Fair? The Myth of Equity in College ." “This is true of all racial groups because so few students go to these colleges in general. … This idea that all Asian Americans are trying to get into Harvard just isn’t true.” 

An analysis published in 2020 found that roughly half of Asian American undergraduates attend community colleges or for-profit colleges. In California, home to the country’s largest AAPI population and a 26-year ban on affirmative action, the vast majority of Asian Americans – 90% – begin college in one of California’s public community colleges or four-year universities. 

Stop AAPI hate: How Asian American teachers are responding to the violence

An analysis of the 23-campus California State University System further illustrates the nuances. In 2016, the four-year completion rate for the university system’s roughly 78,000 AAPI students was 3% below that for all students. Only a few ethnic subgroups – Japanese and Asian Indians – had four-year completion rates that exceeded the average, and all subgroups were less likely than whites to complete their degrees in four years. 

Meanwhile, a 2022 study of the nine-campus University of California found, for example, that Filipino, Thai, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Laotian students are admitted at below-average rates and that many AAPI groups, including Samoans and Chamorros, are underrepresented in the system.

Indeed, college attainment varies significantly within the AAPI community. While more than half of Japanese and Korean Americans – and nearly three in four Asian Indian Americans – age 24 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2019, the same was true for fewer than one in five their Laotian, Hmong and Cambodian counterparts.

Similar disparities exist when it comes to income levels. An analysis of data from the Common App, a college admissions application used by more than 900 institutions, found that certain AAPI students are far more likely to have the application cost waived for income reasons. (Submitting the Common App costs $55 per college on average.) 

Roughly 60% of applicants identifying their background as "Other South Asia" – Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Nepali, for example – received a Common App waiver, according to the analysis . The same was true for just 9% of those identifying as Japanese.

SCOTUS revisits affirmative action: But most college admissions won't be affected

Is it harder for Asian students to get into college?

Most U.S. higher education institutions give little or no consideration to applicants’ race. But at institutions that do consider race as a factor, there’s an argument to be made that Asian applicants are held to higher standards . 

Some data has suggested admitted students of Asian descent have higher test scores and lower acceptance rates. The number of Asian students applying to elite schools has grown significantly in recent decades.  

Supporters, however, say affirmative action benefits many Asian Americans, particularly those who belong to underrepresented ethnic groups or those who’ve experienced hardship as people of color. 

Thang Diep is Vietnamese immigrant and now Harvard alumnus who testified on behalf of the university in 2018. Age 19 at the time, Diep explained that he faced discrimination growing up in Los Angeles, raised by parents who didn’t attend college themselves. 

Diep argued he got into Harvard thanks to affirmative action, releasing part of his application ahead of the October 2018 trial. His SAT scores were on “the lower end" of the Harvard average, but he had “perfect grades,” the admissions officers noted, and perhaps most importantly a “warm energy,” “a deep interest in the arts and social impact” and a “truly unusual” “openness to new ideas and new people.” 

It’s also worth noting that, compared with white students, relatively few Asian students at elite colleges are legacy admits or athletes . 

Why do the affirmative action lawsuits focus on Asian American students?

More than two in three Asian Americans – 69% – support affirmative action, and that’s been the case for nearly a decade . Within that demographic, support is highest among Korean Americans and Asian Indian Americans (at least 80%) and lowest among Chinese Americans, 59% of whom say they favor such policies. 

Despite that polling data and widespread Asian American activism in support of affirmative action, Students for Fair Admissions – whose conservative donors have engaged in a larger crusade targeting issues including voting rights – have sought to paint a different picture. They are, critics say, using Asian Americans as a wedge to incite infighting among communities of color. 

According to Tuft’s Warikoo, the cases against Harvard and UNC rest in part on “this crazy false equivalence.” 

“If you’re worried about the ‘personal rating,’ ending the consideration of race for these other groups isn’t going to change those biases,” Warikoo said, referring to the qualitative portion of Harvard’s admissions process. “Even if there is discrimination happening, how is removing affirmative action going to solve it?”

Affirmative action has been banned in nine states, whose most selective public colleges have seen drops in their numbers of Black, Hispanic and Native American students. Research has even shown such bans are correlated with sizable reductions in the number of underrepresented minorities in medical schools.

Contact Alia Wong at (202) 507-2256 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @aliaemily.


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