Case Studies in College Teaching

(17 hours, equivalent to 1 unit OR 36 hours, equivalent to 2 units)

Course Approach
The course is based on the case method. Participants will be presented a series of teaching challenges and issues through the use of cases and vignettes that represent common teaching situations in and out of the classroom. The case method is an “active learning” pedagogy. To a large degree, you are responsible for your own learning. The case discussion setting becomes a learning laboratory in which you can try out ideas about teaching with a group of colleagues. You will have opportunities to move the case discussion in directions that will be helpful to you. At the same time you will unavoidably be exposed to alternative perspectives on teaching situations, perspectives that may open up new and unexpected avenues of thought. According to the Center for Case Studies in Education, “The process is designed so as not to bring complete closure to the topics discussed; rather, it raises questions and provokes action on the part of the participants to begin to find answers to the questions themselves - surely a learning process with a much higher success rate than telling participants answers.”

Ultimately, case studies in teaching are about “reflective practice.” As professionals we have a responsibility to reflect critically on what we do. Case studies provide focal points for reflective inquiry into the common events and practices of teaching. As Kenneth Eble says, “It is attention to the particulars that brings any craft or art to a high degree of development.”


Student Learning Outcomes
Participants will:

  • Examine, analyze, and debate teaching and classroom management issues through the use of case studies.

  • Discuss, demonstrate, and evaluate the goals and techniques of the case study method.

  • Discuss and practice classroom discussion and role-playing techniques. (This objective is omitted in the 1 Unit     version of this course.)

  • Write and present an original case study about teaching.

  • Write an reflective paper based on the case learning.

Topic Outline

  1. The Case Study Approach

  2. Discussion Techniques

  3. Case Writing

  4. Using Cases in the Classroom

  5. Improving Teaching Through Case Discussion

  6. Common Teaching Dilemmas

Course Requirements
Participants will be expected to read at least one, and up to four, cases each week and to be prepared to discuss the issues in the cases. In addition, there are two major assignments in the course. Every participant will be asked to write an original case study and to lead a case discussion. A reflective paper is due at the end of the course.


Class Meetings
The 1 unit version of this class normally meets about 2 hours peer week for 8 weeks.  The 2 Unit version of this class normally meets 2 hours per week for 16 weeks.