Health professional education is changing to meet the demands of a limited workforce and a focus on community-based clinical training. The change requires a focus on technology-supported learning in order to reach students and teachers who are separated by significant distances. The use of patient cases as reusable learning objects has received considerable attention in the sector and many support the use of such resources, but in order to do so the cases must be meaningfully integrated into the learning experience. This chapter reports the results of an analytical study that has developed eight generic case based learning designs categorised into three broad approaches supported by research evidence from the literature. These learning designs document common patterns in case based learning that could be adapted by teachers and designers to the specific requirements of different contexts. In closing, the authors consider how learning designs might be used as a vehicle for effectively integrating patient cases.
Case Based Learning
Case based learning has been used extensively in education—particularly in professionally-focused disciplines such as medicine, law, business, and teacher education (Bennett, Harper, & Hedberg, 2002; Crang-Svalenius & St. Jernquist, 2005; Golich, 2000; Kim, Hannafin, & Kim, 2004; Tarnvik, 2002; Tomey, 2003). Case based learning refers to a suite of approaches that seek to engage students in analysis of specific, usually real-world, situations (or cases). This is usually achieved through individual and/or group analysis of a case description in which students develop an understanding of the events depicted and consider possible interpretations or resolutions.The role, structure, and application of cases in educational environments vary greatly depending on the intended purpose, which has led to a great diversity in case based learning approaches. Research across the these disciplines has shown the power of using cases in their various forms to create vicarious or pseudo experience for learners that promote the development of knowledge and skills through a situated approach to learning (Bennett et al., 2002; Conyers & Ritchie, 2001; Floyd & Bodur, 2005; Malloy & DeNatale, 2001; Thomas, O’Connor, Albert, Boutain, & Brandt, 2001).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Health Professional Education: Used in this chapter to encompass the initial and or continuing education of any type of health professional. This includes, but is not limited to, medical doctors, nurses physiotherapists, and psychologists.
Case Based Learning: Encompasses any education situation in which cases are used as resource material for a learning activity.
Cases: Descriptions of events and the factual evidence relating to and/or perspectives of people involved in the event. Cases may include the outcomes that eventuated from the event.
Patient Cases: Documented examples of real or fictitious persons who present for health services. Patient cases may be made available staff and students in print or electronic format and use a range of media (text, images, video, sound).
Problem Based Learning: Involves presentation of a problem which triggers students to define their learning needs in terms of the knowledge and skills that will help them address the problem. Various implementations of problem based learning involve sequences of student self-directed inquiry; teacher-directed instruction; and informal and/or formal discussion with peers and teacher.