As a case teacher, are you struggling to get your students engaged or understand key learning objects? If the answer is yes, then you might be committing one of the top four biggest mistakes that case teachers make.
Marc Robinson, Director GlobaLens at the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, outlines how to use cases effectively in the Global School Business Network’s third Case Method Month webinar, "Top 4 Mistakes Case Teachers Make.”
Before revealing the critical mistakes constantly repeated in case teaching, Robinson highlights the dissimilarities between adults and children in the classroom environment. "I am a firm believer that adults learn differently from children,” said Robinson. "They want to learn how to apply skills in the real world.”
Robinson challenges case teachers to step away from "pedagogy” and how children traditionally perform in school, and instead, shift gears on a more experienced-base learning in which adults can take the experiences they learn in school and apply it to real world situations.
From ditching the "sage the stage” method where teachers lecture at students as if they are giving a one-man show, adults benefit more from an interactive style of learning. By building on different ideas and creating analytical conversations on the material, the instructor should become a guide to help students reach an acceptable level of critical thinking.
"By using the cases, there is no right answer,” said Robinson. "They should focus on a central decision point or dilemma and develop questions that clarify consumption and help solve immediate problems.”
After defining the role of the instructor, he reveals the first major mistake created by case teachers: lacking clear, measurable learning objectives. Without learning objectives, the overall information that an individual wants to transcend to the class becomes quickly lost. He stresses the importance of using action words in order to get the point across. In addition, he suggests enforcing group discussions and using "authentic assessments” to steer students in the right direction.
"(Instead of quizzes and tests), gather information and have students run a press conference or create their own case study. That will show how well you put your learning objectives together,” said Robinson.
He believes that clear objectives rest on three main principles: the actual performance, conditions under which the performances occur and the criteria for assessing the performance. If all three components are met, then the case teacher has clearly gotten his or her objectives across.
The second biggest mistake is role confusion. In the past teaching was more like a play than a movie. There was one main actor presenting all the information. However, in the new media age, classrooms are becoming impacted by technology and the teacher must learn to share the stage with a more interactive classroom. Robinson compares the classroom now to a movie set with many more actors and players involved in implementing the learning environment. This is no longer a one-man show but a collaborative effort to create the highest quality of education. "Allow the students to co-create the environment,” said Robinson.
With technology increasing and more participation encouraged from the students, instructors want to steer clear from the third mistake: over-lecturing. By engaging students in class discussion, teachers should ask open-ended questions rather than talk at the students. By guiding them through the initial concept and problem-solving skills, the instructor can create a strong model that engages the student’s attention rather than boring them with an elongated lecture.
The fourth and final mistake simply comes down to poor preparation. If the instructor is not prepared for his or her lesson, then the students will miss out on key learning objectives from the class. This all comes down to practice. The instructor needs to come prepared to connect interdisciplinary themes of the cases before setting foot in the classroom. Some problems that have frequently occurred include instructors not having enough background into their featured company, not connecting to study to the rest of the course and not connecting interdisciplinary themes together.
"The students want to expand their set of tools and can’t have a lack of understanding from the instructor,” said Robinson.
When teaching cases, instructors need to balance the real-world scenarios with the classroom environment. Therefore, these mistakes are frequently made by missing key learning objectives in different cases. By creating a more interactive classroom and mastering the material presented, these mistakes are easily avoidable, and students will learn applicable real-world skills through case teaching.
Allyson Freedman is the Communications and Conference Intern at the Global Business School Network. She attends George Washington University and recently returned to Washington, DC from studying abroad in London.