Case Studies make Learning Relevant to Students
This is an example of authentic learning experience in the classroom from “A Principal’s Reflections” by Eric Sheninger, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Eric is the Principal at New Milford High School located in Bergen County, NJ. We really appreciate teaching ideas from passionate and innovative educators.
The use of case studies is a powerful pedagogical approach to incorporate student-centered learning activities into lessons. As a science teacher I routinely utilized case studies as they provided a relevant context to what I was teaching. Claire Davis and Elizabeth Wilcock conducted an excellent literature review and created a phenomenal resource called Teaching Materials Using Case Studies.
Image credit: http://www.amiraclecomputers.com/images/case_study.png
- They define case studies as student-centered activities based on topics that demonstrate theoretical concepts in an applied setting.
- Using case studies as an interactive learning strategy shifts the emphasis from teacher-centered to more student-centered activities.
- Case studies promote the following skills that are at the heart of authentic learning: problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.
- They expose students to real-life issues.
- Incorporate characteristics of both problem and project-based learning.
One of my math teachers at New Milford High School has begun to integrate the use of case studies in her classes. Mrs. Chellani’s key goal is to connect key mathematical concepts to real-life and other disciplines so students are able to better comprehend the content, understand the significance of the material being taught, and recognize how each discipline is interrelated. In order to achieve this objective, Mrs. Chellani goes beyond solely discussing these connections in class. She utilizes a more complex approach by assigning a case study at the end of each unit so students are able to see these connections in practice. These case studies are centered around real-world and interdisciplinary examples and provide another means to reinforce the learning in class. Furthermore, these case studies involve the use of technology (i.e. MS Office applications, Internet research, trend/statistical Analysis, etc.) and higher-order thinking skills(i.e. drawing conclusions) that prepare students with essential skills sets. Here are 2 examples provided by Mrs. Chellani. I applaud Mrs. Chellani’s commitment to making mathematics more meaningful to her students through the use of case studies and feel that teachers in all disciplines can benefit from this approach. Here are some other resources on the use of case studies in education:
- Case-Based learning from the UMDNJ Center for Teaching Excellence
- Using case studies to teach science from Actionbioscience
- National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science from the National Science Foundation
- Case method website: How to teach with cases from the University of CA (Santa Barbara)
More resources from our resource curation:
RealWorldMath is designed for educators who wish to extend the concepts of the math curriculum beyond the pages of the text. Google Earth is the dynamic tool that will be used to accomplish this. It provides startling clear satellite views of the globe in an interactive 3D environment. Beyond the visual, users can add placemarks, annotations, photos, and models, as well as measure distances and draw paths.
Maths Maps is initiated by Tom Barrett to use Google Earth (and Maps) as a great perspective providing easy access for our students to see rich visual content that depicts everyday maths. It allows teachers around the world to collaborate on it. The maps can be embeded into yoru own websites, and students can complete the tasks online or offline.
YummyMath is a website designed for the purpose of sharing mathematics problems and scenarios based on things happening in the world today. It’s created by two math teachers and licensed under creative commons.
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