Case technologies in education
Case technology as a teaching method is applied with the purpose of involving communictional and creative skills of the students, teaching them how to acquire the knowledge and form the competences.
What is this method and what are it peculiarities?
The essence of the method is using particular cases (situations or stories, the text of which is called “the case”) for collective analysis, discussion or forming a decision together with the students in a certain part of educational discipline.
Cases (situation-based exercises) have a definite nature and purpose. As a rule, they are related to a now existing or past situation. It is always a modeling of a real-life situation, and the decision found by a case participant may serve both as a reflection of the level of participant’s competence and professionalism, and as a real solution to the problem.
No exact answers are given in case technologies, they are to be found. This allows a student, basing on his or her own experience, to formulate conclusions, to apply the obtained knowledge in practice, to demonstrate own (or collective) view of the problem. Within a case, the problem is presented in an non-obvious, inexplicit manner, and, as a rule, has no single solution.
The value of case technology is that it simultaneously reflects the practical problem and brings up a certain complex of knowledge which is to be mastered in order to solve the problem.
Case is also a special set of educational material presented to the student for learning.
Application of this method began in the educational system of the USA in early XX century for law and medicine. The main role in popularization of this method belongs to the Harvard Business School. In 1920th, the Dean of Harvard Business Management School in Boston, Dean Donham, persuaded his colleagues to apply such method in their classes. It was there that in 1921 the first digest of cases was published. “New” method had had an considerable success and eventually turned into the main teaching method within the faculty. The education was conducted in the following manner: practicing students suggested an exact real-life situation (problem), then analyzed the problem giving respective recommendations.
Purposes of the case technology:
- analysis of the information (independent or in groups);
- finding the key problems of the suggested task;
- searching for information necessary to solve the problem;
- search and assessment of alternative means for solving the problem;
- selecting the best decision and working out a plan of actions.
Main stages of case method:
- suggestion of the case by the teacher;
- individual stud of the case by each member of the group;
- working out individual variants of solutions to the case;
- discussion of individual solution variants in each sub-group;
- preparation to collective discussion.
Case is at the same time a task and a source of information for its solution.
There are three types of cases: case event, case exercise and case situation.
Case event is a short case telling about a certain event. It may be used at the class to illustrate а certain idea or to raise a matter for discussion. Such case may be read very quickly, and the students do not have to prepare at home.
Case exercise provides for a student an opportunity to apply the obtained knowledge and skills in practice. It is most widely used when a quantum analysis is required.
Case situation is a classical case which requires analysis of the situation by a student. The most often it comes with a question: “How this situation evolved and how can it be solved?”. Case situation, as a rule, requires a considerable amount of time for preparation, thus a preliminary individual preparation is desirable.
Advantages of applying case-technologies
Case method or the method of situation-based exercises is an interactive teaching method which provides an opportunity of approximating the educationl process to the real-life practice of experts. It promotes the development of inventiveness and resourcefulness, problem-solving skills, diagnosis and analysis of the problems, communication in foreign language.
Case method provides a team-base manner of cognitive activity, creative approach to cognition, joining of theoretical and practical skills, deep immersion into the situation. Case technology benefits the development of the students’ professionalism and maturity, forms the cognitive interest and educational motivation. Case technology allows us to discover various points of view, analytical skills and the ability of critical thinking
Harvard Business School gives the following definition of the case method: “A teaching method according to which the students and the teachers participate in the direct discussion of business situations and problems. As a rule, these cases are drafted in writing and are formulated on experience of real people working in the sphere of entrepreneurship, and the students read, study and discuss. Cases are the basis for discussion within a group guided by a teacher.”
Application and its peculiarities
Case method is applied along with the other teaching methods. The more efrfective the level of educational programme is, the easier and the more effective will be the work with cases. While applying the case method, certain rules must be adhered in drafting of the case, taking into consideration the peculiarities of working with a case in different age categories, keeping to the organizational rules of working with the case within a group; also, the teacher’s role must be defined since in the case method it differs immensely from the traditional one.
The methodical purpose for application of the case method may be the illustration of a theory, a strictly practical situation or both. But in any case, the purpose must be essential in order to interest the students. This can be attained by the intensity of the situation described in the case, by a conflict or even drama that require a quick solution.
For example, a case may be the situation with construction of a house where the student will be required to calculate the quantity and value of the concrete for the base foundation, to draw the plan of the building, to analyze and select the most optimal contractor that will supply the building materials. To this end, the acquired mathematical skills and the formulas learnt must be applied, together with the team-working skills and the ability to analize the information and give reasons to your own point of view.
In case method, the teacher’s role differs essentially from the tradtional one: the teacher delegates his or her authority to the students, thus the teacher’s guding role is minimal. The teacher’s interference into the students’ work must be limited, it only involves regulatory functions and supervision. The students must be encouraged, their accomplishments together with strong and weak parts in their decision must be pointed out. No evaluation of the student’s work in numbers is made, but only the level of participation is evaluated.
Application of the case method opens a wide range of opportunities for the developpment of creativity, practicalthinking skills, analytical skills and the ability tof ormulate and solve the problems, and also helps form life competences.