THE CASE METHOD OF INSTRUCTION: INTEGRATING THEORY AND PRACTICE
Halpin, G. and Halpin, G., Auburn University, USA
Problem-based projects in which students work with others to solve authentic problems have been touted as ways to enhance deep understanding and promote critical thinking. Integrating theory and practice, the case study is an exemplar of problem-based instructional methodology. Developed and tested in this study were four multimedia case studies depicting real- world problems likely to be faced by management and/or engineers in the world of work. Participants were business and engineering students at a major university in the United States. In order to enhance generalizability, the study was replicated in four different classes (average N = 50) taught by two different instructors. In each class, students completed Semantic Differential scales assessing their attitudes toward various course-related concepts, two rating forms seeking their evaluations of the different case studies and the case method of instruction, and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire measuring their motivational level and learning strategies. Significant results from multivariate analyses within and between the classes yielded a portrait of the learner interacting with the case method of instruction. In contrast to traditional classes, students taught using the case method organized logically vast amounts of data as they progressed through the problem-solving process and came up with effective solutions. Having to solve real-world problems nurtured deep, sustained, and complex thinking; encouraged active learning; and fostered a cooperative group effort. Thus, support was provided in this study for the case method of teaching and learning.