Efficiency in education

Case teaching

Case teaching concept

The case method is an established form of learning in many academic and professional learning contexts. However, its use varied dramatically with a strong focus on law, medicine and business. Its further applicability is now being realized. There are several reasons for that:

  • There is a growth in the supply of cases,
  • The case method is seen as a useful addition to the spectrum of teaching methodologies,
  • The case method inherently engages the student as an active participant in the learning process.

Despite the apparent popularity, the case method remains open to concern, and case teaching is not as widespread as its effectiveness would suggest. This is so for two reasons,. First, most of those who teach or train others have learned by traditional methods – lectures, seminars, problem sets and examinations. Second, because it is unfamiliar, the case method requires teachers to acquire new skills and attitudes towards teaching, a process which takes the kind of time and opportunity that many do not have because of their busy schedules. It also involves a changed relationship between the teacher and the student. In the case method, the student is challenged to take the analytical and decision lead. The teacher becomes the guide in the process and not the source of the solution. For some, this is a challenge. For anyone, it involves a change in approach. Traditional teaching is based on the lecture. Knowledge is assumed to be the sole possession of the teacher, and via the lecture, it flows one way: from teacher to student.

Case method introduces realism to the seminar room and allows to integrate practical knowledge (based on real events) with theoretical knowledge and shows the dependencies between them. It allows students to build confidence in their skills, develop skills decision-making, communication and cooperation in a competitive environment. According to a study Studien (2005b), the case study method is the most effective method of teaching, that develops practical skills. It allows to look at the different situations,  from  cultural and economic  perspective, opening students’ minds by offering the possibility of solving problems based on real-life situations.

A teacher who employs the Case Method employs a variety of media to present the context of a problem (“back-story”), places students in the role of the historical character faced with that problem, asks students to solve the problem, and, once students have thoroughly discussed their solutions, describes how the historical character dealt with the problem (“the rest of the story.”) When students are presented with a case, they place themselves in the role of the decision maker as they read through the situation and identify the problem they are faced with. The next step is to perform the necessary analysis—examining the causes and considering alternative courses of actions to come to a set of recommendations. To get the most out of cases, students read and reflect on the case, and then meet in learning teams before class to „warm up” and discuss their findings with other classmates. In class—under the questioning and guidance of the professor—students probe underlying issues, compare different alternatives, and finally, suggest courses of action in light of the organization’s objectives.

During case study class, students are doing 85 percent of the talking, as the professor steers the conversation by making occasional observations and asking questions. This classroom interaction could be enriched by classmates experiences.

In Harvard Business School Class participation is so important to the learning model at HBS that 50 percent of a student’s grade in many courses is based on the quality of class participation. This requires students and faculty to work closely together—another hallmark of the HBS experience. During their time at the School, students study and prepare over 500 cases. (HBS info)

Pedagogical benefits

Pedagogical goals to be gained from implementing cases in teaching progress could be indicated in following fields: critical thinking, learning, participation and other. All of them have been described below.

Critical Thinking

  • to improve student’s ability to view an issue from multiple perspectives
  • to develop a deeper understanding of concepts
  • to demonstrate stronger critical thinking skills
  • to improve ability to make connections across multiple content areas
  • to increase students ability to discuss different issues
  • to improve student’s ability to make connections across multiple content areas


  • to deliver ability to better grasp of the practical application of core course concepts
  • to strengthen communication skills
  • to find the format challenging
  • to strengthen understanding of ambiguity


  • to make students to take a more active part in the learning process
  • to make students more engaged in class
  • to develop positive peer – to – peer relationships
  • to increase attendance
  • to strengthen ability to work in small groups


  • Students evaluating teaching more positively

Case method can be used for:

  • Allowing the application of theoretical concepts to be demonstrated, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice.
  • Encouraging active learning.
  • Providing an opportunity for the development of key skills such as communication, group working and problem solving.
  • Increasing the students’ enjoyment of the topic and hence their desire to learn.
  • Developing a case study to replace more traditional teaching on the same topic.
  • Increasing positive recognition of KIC Innoenergy courses.

It is now documented that students can learn more effectively when actively involved in the learning process

Empirical research comparing lecture methods versus discussion techniques was summarized in the report Teaching and Learning in the Classroom: A Review of the Research Literature prepared by the National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (McKeachie, et al., 1987). The review concluded that – In those experiments involving measures of retention of information after the end of a course, measures of problem solving, thinking, attitude change, or motivation for further learning, the results tend to show differences favoring discussion methods over lecture. Some more interesting remarks about benefits of active learning techniques based on discussion and their superiority over traditional lectures based methods could be found in many works like Eison (2010), Wilson & Korn (2007), Stuart & Rutherford (1978), Stanley, C. A. & Porter, M. E. (2002), Wilen, W. W. (Ed.), Hake, R. R. (1998) etc. (1987). Knight & Wood (2005) in their publication presented comparison of classic and interactive teaching have been presented (fig. 1.2.1). Results prove better performance of interactive courses.

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science has trained thousands of science teachers in the case study method over the past 20 years and counting. In 2006, we conducted a survey to assess the effectiveness of trainings.

Students’ critical thinking increased and their understanding deepened when learning via case – based instruction. The faculty reported that the students in the classes using case studies demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills (88.8%), were able to make connections across multiple content areas (82.6%), and developed a deeper understanding of concepts (90.1%). Most of the faculty also agreed that when they used case study teaching the students were better able to view an issue from multiple perspectives (91.3%). Faculty reported that students had a better grasp of the practical applications of core course concepts when learning via case – based instruction (91.3%). When asked whether more content was covered in their classroom when using case studies, only 18.8% of the faculty agreed, while 33.8% were neutral and 47.6% disagreed. The majority (93.8%) of faculty using case study teaching also agreed that students were more engaged in the class when using cases.

Case teaching in Clean Alternative Program

We are implementing case teaching methodology as an important element of pedagogical evolution process at partner universities.

We are carrying out process of trainings of teachers at our universities. We have organized 2 workshops showing benefits of case teaching as well as delivering skill of building and performing cases. Some teachers took part in a Case Teaching Workshop at ESADE Business School.

The implementation of the case teaching during classes is commencing. The first implementation took part at SUT on 4th of January 2017.

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