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Case Method in Modern Education

The most efficient way to produce anything is to bring together under one management as many as possible of the activities needed to turn out the product.

Peter Drucker

At the present stage of education development, along with the traditional methods and techniques on-line training becomes increasingly popular. In the context of on-line learning the technology of interactive lectures, providing for the creation of “focus groups”, design technology, training, etc. One such technology is called CASE STUDY.

Case teaching method was originated in the Harvard Business School in the early XX century. In 1920 after the publication of the cases collection, the whole system of management training at the Harvard School was transferred to the methodology of CASE STUDY. In recent years, case-teaching methods are widely used in medicine, law, mathematics, cultural studies, political science, economics and business education.

Case technologies are a group of educational technology, methods and techniques of teaching, based on the solution of specific issues and problems. They belong to on-line teaching methods, because allow all students, including the teacher, to communicate with each other. Name of the technology comes from the Latin casus – tangled unusual case, as well as from the English case – briefcase, suitcase. Origin of the term reflects the essence of technology. Students receive a set of documents from the teacher (case) by which either identify the problem and its solutions, or work on ways out of a difficult situation when a problem is indicated.

The most successful case of technology can be used in fields of economics, law, social science, history topics, requiring analysis of a large number of documents and primary sources. Case technology is designed to produce knowledge in those disciplines where there is no single answer to this question, and there are several answers that can compete on the degree of truth.

The following methods, activating the learning process in case-technologies include:

  1. The incident method;
  2. Method of business correspondence analysis;
  3. Method of situational analysis.

The incident method. The feature of this method is that the student himself finds information for decision making. Students receive a briefing on the case, the situation in the country, the organization. The information available is not enough for decision making, so the student must collect and analyze the information needed to make a decision. It takes time, so independent students’ homework is possible. In the first stage the students get the message and questions to it.

For example, to study the opportunity of launch a new brand students can be offered the following message: «StarGroup is a construction company with a decade experience in the European market, but now its leaders have decided to enter the world market. However, there was difficulty with the definition of the sales channel – whether to accept the staff of sales representatives or independent partners to collaborate with?” (Arguments and Facts)

Questions to the text:

–      What is the problem?

–      How does the company solve it?

–      What solutions to the problem you can offer?

In the second stage the students individually or in groups find ways out of the situation. And the third stage – the presentation of the results and exchange of views.

The method of business correspondence analysis. Students receive from the teacher folders with information about the situation, a set of documents to help find a way out of a difficult situation (you can include documents unrelated to the problem, so that participants can choose the information) and the issues that allow us to find a solution.

The method of situational analysis is the most common method, because it allows a deep and detailed study of a difficult situation. Student receives a text with detailed description of the situation and the problem to be solved. The text can include already implemented actions, made decisions, to assess its feasibility.

Analysis of cases can be both individual and group. Results of work can be both in written and oral form. Recently, it becomes more and more popular to make multimedia presentation of results. Familiarity with cases can occur directly in the classroom, and in advance (in the form of homework). The teacher can also use ready-made cases, and create own design. Sources of cases on the subjects can be anything: art, movies, scientific information, museum exhibitions, and the experience of students.

Using the case-technology has several advantages:

–  The emphasis of training is transferred to the generation of knowledge, but not to mastered knowledge.

–  “Dry” and unemotionality in the study of complex issues is overcome.

–  Students get vital experience of the problems decision, the ability to relate theories and concepts to real life.

–  The students have got the ability to listen and understand other people, to work in a team.

–  Case-technologies offer more opportunities to work with information, evaluate alternative solutions, which are very important at the present time, when volumes of information flows are being daily increased, the different perspectives on the same event are highlighted.

–  The ability to think logically, to formulate a question, argue the answer, make own conclusions, to defend opinions will help students in their normal life.

Also the crucial advantage of the case method is in its flexibility, variability, which improves creativity among teachers and students. Of course, the use of case-technology in teaching will not solve all the problems and should not be an end in itself. The goals and objectives of each lesson, the nature of the material and the ability of students must be taken into account. The greatest effect can be achieved with reasonable combination of traditional and on-line learning technologies as they interact and complement each other.

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