Tip #42: Experiential Training Methods: Case Study

There are many different experiential training methods that ensure a rich learning experience. Today, we will discuss the Case Study.

What: A case study is a “real life” problem statement or situation that provides sufficient background data so that the problem can be analyzed and solved.

When: It can be used at the beginning of a lesson to identify learner knowledge and understanding. It can also be used at the end of a lesson to evaluate the learners’ ability to apply what has been learned to realistic situations.

Why: It is intended to provide an opportunity for the learners to get involved, problem solve, and learn-by-doing with a realistic problem or situation.

How: A good case study is written in the form of a story. It has characters who have names and use authentic dialogue. It is descriptive, with realistic details. The flow is easy to follow, with sufficient information for the learners to accomplish their task. It defines the task by asking questions relating to the case.

The learners read the case and then discuss their answers to the questions in small groups. The trainer then directs a large group discussion of the answers generated in the small groups.

It is best to limit this exercise to no more than three brief case studies, or one or two longer case studies. Otherwise, the repetitive sequence of group reports and discussion can become wearing.

The post-case discussion is probably the major factor in the learning effectiveness of the case study. Discussion needs to be planned in advance to isolate and highlight the crucial points to be learned from the case.

Length: Depending upon the complexity of a case, from ten to thirty minutes for small group discussions. Approximately ten minutes for each small group to report its conclusions to the larger group and engage in a large group discussion of the case.

Benefits: There are a number of benefits to the use of a case study.

  • It can generate interest by presenting a problem to be solved.
  • It can give the learners an opportunity to apply what they have learned to a real life situation.
  • It can develop the learners’ analytic skills.
  • It can test the learners’ ability to use what they have learned.
  • It can make technical information come alive.

Level of Learning: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, and Analysis

Learning Styles: Aural, visual, print, interactive, haptic, and even kinesthetic if the group posts its conclusions on a flip chart.

Next week, we will explore another experiential training method: the hands on exercise.

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