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Home Assignment DesignCase-based Learning

Case-based Learning

The purpose of any case is to highlight an issue(s) the instructor wants to bring to the attention of the learner and then provide an opportunity for the learner to demonstrate their understanding by responding (applying that understanding) to the case situation.

Cases are well structured exemplars of "situations that have already happened" and are crafted to provide the learner with a succinct learning experience. The learner is a detective following clues in their attempt to get the "right answer."

The strategy supports the case-based reasoning model. Simply stated, when we encounter something new (unknown or novel) the first thing we do (often unconsciously) is check our memory to determine if we have ever seen (heard, tasted, felt etc.) something similar. In short, we draw upon our EXPERIENCE.

Cases are a method of providing structured experiences that draw on the "war stories" of the more experienced members of the discipline. Working with these cases, the students build foundational experiences which they can reference (remember) when they encounter similar events later in their professional life.

  • Cases in investment management: cases from Yale University. Business schools have used cases to provide students with an opportunity to develop their analytic and problem-solving skills.
  • Communication on the internet: These cases focus student attention on the use of anonymous communications on the Internet.

References and Further Readings

Blaylock, B. K., & Kopf, J. M. (2009). Problem-based learning in quantitative classes. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 13(1). Retrieved September 10, 2009, from

Case Method in Practice. (n.d.). Christensen Center for Teaching & Learning, Harvard Business School. Retrieved from