How to Use Case Studies

Case studies are effective as a pedagogical technique for teaching content and as opportunities for teachers to experience problems in a variety of professional settings.

  • Find or create a case study that focuses on a problem that is relevant to your teachers' or administrators' situations.
  • Create or find a website or print out copies of the case study for each teacher.
  • Review with the teachers the steps you would like them to take as they read the study, how much time to take, and how they will check for understanding.
  • Include an essential question about the problem that has no right or wrong answer.
  • Allow teachers time to take notes as they read the study and consider how they might answer the question.
  • Brainstorm other questions about the problem with the whole group.
  • Put teachers in small groups of 4 or more by asking them to count off by 1-4+ and grouping all the 1s, 2s, and so on together.
  • Ask one person to be facilitator for each group and have them answer the questions.
  • Have someone report out from each group trying not to duplicate answers going over each question.
  • Take notes as groups report out and then summarize the discussions correlating theory and teaching practice.

Janice Friesen shared that she has used modified case studies in professional development. One thing that is important is that the case study should be open ended. In a way it is more like using stories than actually sharing research. In a PD session, different case studies would be given to small groups and they would read and discuss them. Then we would come together and share what solutions and suggestions the groups came up with. This is sometimes a great way to start a session and get teachers thinking about the topic that will be presented.

Submitted by:Barbara Bray
with ideas from Janice Friesen

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