Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education
Martin Luther King Jr.
Case studies are a useful tool in teaching various subjects. Case study method is a group, student-centered and results-oriented exercise that includes each learner’s input, provides opportunities for meaningful conversations and holds them accountable for their learning.
In general, researchers put forward the following advantages of case-study method, it promotes:
- in-depth study of a phenomenon within its real-life context;
- critical thinking and analytical abilities;
- communication skills;
- abilities to defend one’s point of view;
- tolerance to different views;
- research skills [2, 4, 5].
In the meantime, case study method is criticized for its disadvantages:
- inappropriate for elementary level;
- difficulties of time management;
- difficulties of the validation of the solutions .
Despite these drawbacks, this method is rather productive and its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages. The use of case study includes the following stages:
- familiarization with the task;
- analysis of the theoretical material;
- conducting a research;
- summarizing and presentation of the research results;
- analyses of the findings based on the assessment criteria .
Choosing a task for a case study, a teacher should take into account the following crucial requirements:
- presence of a practical problem with multiple decisions;
- terminology and style of the problem description correspond to those used in reference and professional literature;
- theoretical data must be given to learners in a generalized form;
- self-dependent and creative activity of learners .
Using this method, a teacher should plan ahead and think about possible needs and challenges of his learners. He should act as a facilitator who is willing to listen, ask open-ended questions and encourage a further discussion.
There exists a diversity of worthy case study topics for discussion during which learners exchange their experience and thoughts. For example, teaching chemistry, a teacher can use the following cases:
- Why automobile companies produce cars working on hydrogen fuel? What are the properties of hydrogen fuel?
- What is oceans’ contribution to the fight with global warming?
- What are the pros and cons of soy-based foods?
- What is the contribution of organic chemistry to global food production?
- What are antibiotic-resistant bacteria? And why are they a challenge of modern medicine?
- What is the influence of chlorine on a human body while swimming in swimming pools? How can the influence of chlorine be minimized?
- What are the main sources of water pollution? What are the methods of water purification? Why is there no clean water in nature?
- What are the possible threats of methanol production to the environment? Can you offer methods to prevent them?
To sum up, it may be said that case-study method is a creative complement to traditional teaching approaches. It establishes opportunities to put theory into practice, builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills, develops learner’s communication skills, creative potential, promotes collaboration and tolerance.
1. Деркач А. М. Кейс-метод в обучении органической химии: составление и использование заданий // Среднее профессиональное образование. 2010. № 11. С. 45–47.
2. Cornely K. The use of case studies in an introductory biochemistry course. http://www.ccce.divched.org/sites/www.ccce.divched.org/files/p3_chemconf_cornely_april2011.pdf (accessed April 15, 2015).
3. Crowe S., Cresswell K., Robertson A., Huby G., Avery A., Sheikh A. The case study approach. http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471–2288–11–100.pdf (accessed April 15, 2015).
4. Summerfield S., Overton T. L., Belt S. T. Problem solving case studies for analytical and applied chemistry http://www.academia.edu/186900/Problem_based_case_studies_for_analytical_and_applied_chemistry (accessed April 15, 2015).
5. Zainal Z. Case study as a research method. http://eprints.utm.my/8221/4/48-case-study-as-a-research-method.html_Itemid %3D1328 (accessed April 15, 2015).
6. Zucker D. M. How to do Case study research. http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=nursing_faculty_pubs(accessed April 15, 2015).