Case Studies (classroom)

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Facilitating case study active learning activities in a classroom

Time and Effort

Instructor Prep TimeMedium
Student Activity TimeMedium
Instructor Response TimeMedium
Complexity of ActivityMedium


Case Studies have student teams review a written study of a real-world scenario containing a field-related problem or situation. Case studies usually include a brief history of the situation and present a dilemma the main character is facing. Team members apply course concepts to identify and evaluate alternative approaches to solving the problem.


Use it when you want...

  • Students to bridge the gap between theory and practice and between the classroom and the workplace,
  • To have students engage in critical reflection by considering multiple alternatives for problem-solving, or
  • To help students develop skills in analysis, synthesis, communication, and decision-making.

What students will need

  • There are no special requirements for this approach.


The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Case Studies learning activity within a classroom.


  • Identify a case study or develop a new one. The case can be real or hypothetical.
  • Develop a case study handout with a series of questions to guide students’ analysis using Google Docs and/or create aZoom session in which students with work collaboratively.


  • Form student groups and distribute cases (identical or different) to each team. Note: Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. Groups larger than 2-3 people are encouraged to use text-based chat features instead of speaking to one another to reduce the noise volume in the room and to prevent shouting across long distances between students.
  • Allow time for students to ask questions about the problem presented in the case.
  • Have students work in groups to study the case from the protagonist’s point of view.
  • Direct students to sort out factual data, apply analytical tools, articulate issues, and reflect on their relevant experience. Have them recommend actions that resolve the problem in the case.
  • Have students prepare a statement describing their assessment of the case, the decision options as they see them, and recommendations for a decision.
  • Guide discussion of the cases with the entire class. If the case is a real-world example, students will want to know what happened. Share this with them after they have reported on it.
  • If students prepared a written statement, have students hand it in at the end of class.


  • Review the students’ statements on the case study.
  • Provide feedback/grade to group participants.
  • Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

Technical Documentation


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 238-243.

See Also: