The Office of Faculty Development

Teaching with Case Studies

Case studies provide a great opportunity to bring course materials to life. They can encourage student interactions while helping educators meet learning objectives. Case studies can be designed as thought experiments responding to hypothetical problems or they can offer challenges based on real world examples. Case studies are a flexible teaching tool that work for both individuals and group projects, and they have the added advantage of being applicable to all academic disciplines, so they have broad pedagogical value. 

Case studies can vary widely in length and focus, so this guide focuses on helping faculty create and use short case studies (1-2 pages) on a specific topic. Case studies work especially well when paired with supporting materials/readings that give students the necessary background context and details so they can adequately wrestle with the core issue(s) raised in the case study. 

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Explore the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching(opens in new window) for more great ideas on how to create your own cases.

Visit the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science(opens in new window) to find hundreds of ready to use cases.

Episode 52 of The A&P Professor on the Case for Case Studies(opens in new window) (at 31:18).

Harvard Business School's Cold Call(opens in new window) podcast brings case studies to a podcast format.

Listen to how Casefile(opens in new window) uses criminal cases to engage listeners.

Watch Bringing Case Studies to the Classroom(opens in new window)

Watch Take a Seat in the Harvard MBA Case Classroom(opens in new window)

Watch Master Class on Learning to Lead Through Case Discussions(opens in new window)

The Case Method and the Interactive Classroom (PDF). John Foran. The NEA Higher Education Journal. 2001.

Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education(opens in new window), 2 Ed. Paul Gorski and Seema Pothini. (Routledge, 2018)