Using Case Studies in the Higher Education Classroom: Case Studies in Higher Education – What's the Big Idea?

Using Case Studies in the Higher Education Classroom: Case Studies in Higher Education – What's the Big Idea?

Manina Urgolo Huckvale (William Paterson University, USA) and Irene Van Riper (West Liberty University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9429-1.ch003
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There is a proven paucity of literature regarding the implementation of case studies in the higher education classroom. This theoretical review will synthesize the research that has emerged and explore the student learning outcomes for inclusion in higher education pedagogy. In this investigation, the usage of case studies with a specific purpose and guided analysis has been found to be beneficial for the explanation of content. When provided the scaffolding for moving from theory to practice, students are prompted to familiarize themselves with the case study and examine the nuances and implications. Based upon this study of the relevant literature, the benefits and advantages of using the strategy of the case study approach outweigh the disadvantages.
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Wasserman (1994) finds that the case study method has “a highly visible record of success in other professional programs and with considerable promise in teacher education” (p.604). Indeed, case studies are used more frequently in areas where field experiences are involved, such as nursing, medicine, business and now the teacher education classroom.

Case studies are used in a variety of classroom settings for a variety of purposes but mostly to apply classroom theory to the reality of practice. Their use is to help develop problem-solving skills in the students who use them. The case study takes many forms but there is a paucity of literature as it pertains to the use of case studies in the higher education classroom.

A review of the literature on case studies using key words such as “case studies,” “case study method,” “teaching methods,” “higher education,” “learning outcomes,” “problem solving skills,” “inductive learning,” “deductive learning,” etc., demonstrates that there is a need for more research on their use. Typically, case studies are utilized in the medical profession, the sciences, law schools, and in business programs. There is little research on the use of case studies in the general education higher education classroom.

It has been found that students are inductive learners, taking their information from the classroom lecture. To initiate deductive reasoning in the student, it was found that students learn better by seeing examples of problems in their profession and learning to work out the problems through critical thinking (Boston University Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation in Teaching, 2015).


Main Focus Of The Chapter

The main focus of this chapter is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using case studies in the general education higher education classroom. While not the only method for teaching, it is one strategy that shows promise of preparing students for their life’s work.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Case Study Method: A method of research used to analyze case histories with a view towards formulating general principles.

Problem Solving Skills: The process by which one works through the details of a problem to reach a solution.

Teaching Methods: Refers to the general principles, pedagogy and management strategies used for classroom instruction.

Case Studies: A research strategy that investigates in-depth an individual, group or event to explore the causes of underlying principles. Typically, data are gathered from a variety of sources, using different methods such as observations and interviews.

Learning Outcomes: Statements that describe essential learning that students achieve and can demonstrate reliably at the end of a course or program.

Inductive Learning: A student-centered strategy to help students deepen their understanding of content and develop inference and evidence-gathering skills.

Higher Education: Education beyond secondary education, especially at a college or university.

Deductive Learning: A teacher-centered strategy to presenting new content, whereby students are given rules and examples and then made to practice by answering questions and/or performing different types of tasks.

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