February 5, 2013
Flipping Your Class with a Combination of a Case-study, Role-play, and Collaborative Learning
Instructors who are interested in experimenting with a “flipped class” format can use this activity to structure the pre-class preparation assignment and in-class active learning. This activity combines a case study with in-class role-play and collaborative learning to promote student learning. This activity is time-consuming and requires some preparation, which makes making it a good choice for a “flipped classroom” experience. Assign preparatory readings to students as pre-class homework. Plan to devote an entire class period for the group collaborative learning activity.
The case study component is a narrative that addresses a realistic issue and provides a basis for student discussion of important topics and problem-solving strategies. Cases can be based on actual events or a scenario you create to include key elements you want the class to discuss.
In the role-play component, each student assumes the role of one character in the case scenario. Players take responsibility for acting out roles in the case narrative, either through literal acting or by taking responsibility for making the decisions typically made by that character in the decision-making process enacted in the scenario.
The collaborative learning component of this activity is a Jigsaw technique. Students work in a small group to discuss the topic assigned and develop strategies for explaining the topic to others. Each group works on a different aspect of the case to become the “experts” on their assigned topic. Students then leave their expert group and join a new group comprised of one member from each expert topic group. In the new group, each student must teach his/her topic to the other members of the group. Finally, students rejoin their original group, discuss their experiences in the second group, and prepare to share their reflection on the case in a discussion with the entire class.
Pre-class assignment to prepare students for in-class activity
Assign a case for the students to read (with supporting documents as needed). The case should provide sufficient information on the topic to support a rich discussion. Assign the reading for the case (including supporting documents) ahead of class so students are prepared to learn from the class activity. Materials for the case study can be obtained from multiple sources:
Collaborative learning activity during class meeting
For example, if an environmental issue were to be addressed in the case study, different students could argue from the perspectives of a member of the general public, a representative from the business community, a scientist, a politician, or other relevant roles. This technique works well for case studies in disciplines that address multiple points of view (e.g., medical, political, economic, ethical, scientific, or other perspectives).
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Brislin, T. (1995). Active learning in applied ethics instruction. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching. 6, 87-95.
MERLOT is a program of the California State University, in partnership with higher education institutions, professional societies, and industry. The MERLOT site archives peer reviewed teaching and learning materials in Arts, Business, Education Humanities, Mathematics and Statistics, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Workforce Development.
The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, located at the University at Buffalo, houses an award-winning collection of peer-reviewed case studies for multiple STEM disciplines that faculty can download and use in their courses. The work of NCCSTS has been supported by the National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S. Department of Education.
This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Bill Burke, Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), University of Kentucky.
WKU Writer’s Consortium
October 16, 2012
Promote active learning and critical thinking skills in STEM by teaching with case studies
Schools of medicine, law and business have a long tradition of assigning cases to help students learn critical concepts and apply them to real-world applications.
Cases can be used to structure class discussion of critical issues or they can be assigned as projects for small group structured learning activities (team learning, problem-based learning, and other types of collaborative learning). A well-written case study will introduce students to essential disciplinary content and concepts. Case studies require students to use disciplinary thinking skills to analyze and propose effective solutions to real-world problems. Thus, students get practice using critical thinking skills on problems that connect course content to important issues and problems they may encounter in current news.
If you are new to using case studies and unsure about how to write a good case study or structure a learning activity based on case studies, you can find an outstanding collection of peer-reviewed cases on the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) web site (sponsored by the National Science Foundation). Case materials include the case handout (materials students receive when they begin the case study assignment), teaching notes (background material, suggestions for classroom management, discussion of critical learning outcomes for the case, and scholarly references), and an answer key or rubric to help instructors evaluate student work.
The NCCSTS collection includes analysis cases, dilemma/decision cases, cases that include discussions guided through clicker questions, cases for laboratory work, cases designed specifically for problem-based learning, guided discussions, debates, mock trials, jig-saw group learning activities, and role-play activities.
All cases archived on the NCCSTS site are peer reviewed. Faculty at UWF who develop their own case materials might consider submitting their work to NCCSTS as a component of their scholarship of teaching.
Visit the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and search their collection peer-reviewed cases.
The data base is searchable by keyword, STEM discipline (identified as subject heading in the search engine menus), educational level (lower-division undergraduate, upper-division undergraduate, graduate, professional school, etc.), type of case, or topic area (ethics, scientific method, pseudoscience, social issues, legal issues, etc.).
Look under the Teaching Resources section to find publications, including downloadable PDF files with guidelines for writing and using case studies in teaching.
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