Teaching with Case Studies
Case studies bring the reality of the business world into the classroom, and are invaluable to communicating important lessons to students. Using cases enables educators to explain textbook material through powerful illustrations. Case-based teaching allows students to develop skills in analytical thinking and reflective judgment by reading and discussing complex, real-life management practices.
The case method pedagogy is not new in the instruction of IT management courses. Case studies provide a rich and vivid description of a problem or situation, carefully crafted to engage students in an analysis of the case, either individually or collaboratively, and to collectively discuss a solution to the problem presented. Unlike other problem types and examples presented in textbooks and scholarly articles, teaching cases may not lead to a single correct answer. Instead, the purpose of case-based teaching is to facilitate analysis through a variety of pedagogical methods, such as in-class discussions, role-playing, simulations and written exercises. Such cases challenge students with practical issues, emphasizing on active learning and higher-order skills to motivate students to understand and apply theoretical concepts to solving problems and dealing with real-world dilemmas.
The adoption of teaching-based cases, however, is challenging for many Asian educators. In particular, four costs are commonly associated with the use of teaching-based cases:
- Educators exert significant efforts to search for suitable cases to be used in their courses. Most case studies found in scholarly journals are presented in a research- or analysis-friendly manner, and are not pedagogically suitable for teaching purposes.
- Educators spend a considerable time on preparation of presentation and discussion materials to complement the use of the case in their classroom activities. This entails restructuring lecture and classroom activities to accommodate discussions, creating presentations on the adopted case, and locating suitable secondary materials such as images and diagrams for use in class.
- Most existing case-based teaching and case repositories tend to specialize in cases developed in the United States or Europe. To provide more practical relevance and an appreciation of the applicability of theoretical concepts for students, Asian educators employing case-based pedagogy require teaching cases depicting the challenges facing local and regional individuals and organizations. Similarly, educators from Western institutions can also benefit significantly from the use of such cases.
- Case studies available from such existing repositories are expensive and incur financial costs not only on faculty and the institution, but also the students. These costs act as a deterrent to the adoption of the case method of teaching, particularly for educational institutions in the Asian region without sufficient resources to invest in these materials.