Using a guided inquiry pedagogy, case studies provide a rich narrative of a real-world problem for students to analyze and solve, individually or in teams. Their use ranges from simpler assignments (class activity or homework) to larger assignments (multiple weeks or even serving as the foundation of an entire course). This often coincides with the level of situational complexity (e.g., multiple stakeholder points of view, missing information, moral dilemmas) and whether there is one best answer or not (the rationale for a course of action is often more important than finding the “right” solution).
This active learning approach is common in business studies and science curriculums since it emphasizes problem-solving and provides students an opportunity to apply academic concepts and theory to complex decision-making in the workplace. The situation described in a case is carefully curated to meet the explicit student learning objectives for the subject matter (or from an interdisciplinary perspective) while also building more implicit professional skills, such as cultural competence, teamwork, and self-directed learning. When used in a team setting, or during a class discussion, students also benefit from peer teaching and diverse perspective sharing. Moreover, using powerful storytelling (try adding multimedia like podcasts or oral histories) relevant to prospective careers can lead to increased student motivation and a deeper, reflective learning experience.
Dr. Anita Anantharam, WST3371 Women, Leadership, & Diversity in the Global Environment, Enrollment: 80-100
Students were asked to research a company, and encouraged to even interview a staff member, to learn about various elements of the organization (e.g., mission, values, leadership structure, hiring practices) and analyze the company’s practices related to leadership and diversity. The student learning objectives for this assignment included connecting leadership theories to a workplace context, analyzing how gender and cultural differences can facilitate or disrupt opportunities for leadership, and reflecting on areas for personal growth and professional development. In this context, students identified the case and the discussion board feature of Canvas was utilized to help them compare and contrast their unique experiences around the theme.
The assignment was divided over multiple submissions to provide guiding feedback to the students with a manageable workload for all parties. For each part, there were key questions to address and a rubric was created which helped manage expectations. A TA assisted with grading duties in this course.