There are many methodologies and approaches to learning that span all levels and forms of education. Case-based learning is gaining traction as an approach to learning that has many benefits for students.
This method uses collaborative discussions around real-world case studies to not only improve learning outcomes, but also help students develop a number of invaluable, transferable skills.
What is a Case-Based Learning Approach?
Case-based learning centres around the use of concrete examples or case studies. Students will examine the case study as a group, building their knowledge while putting their analytical skills into practice by assessing the problem and coming up with potential solutions. Often, the discussion is driven by the group members, with the instructor or tutor acting as a facilitator.
This method frequently makes use of real-world examples, or may rely on detailed models that closely resemble an actual case. For example, business students may study the history of real companies and how they overcame key challenges or barriers to growth. Alternatively, they could be called upon to analyse fictional companies in accurate scenarios.
Instructors may use various types of case studies, such as:
- Intrinsic case studies seek to understand a unique brand or subject, and how it is affected by its environment.
- Exploratory case studies use individual examples to explore broader issues.
- Explanatory case studies seek to hone in on the cause, and sometimes the effects, of a particular event.
- Descriptive case studies seek to tell a story and, unlike other types of case studies, may include a conclusion with quantifiable results.
Benefits of a Case-Based Learning Approach
Case-based learning is very common in medical education, but it is being increasingly adopted in other fields thanks to its numerous advantages.
It Promotes Critical Thinking
A key part of the case-based learning method is examining and assessing real or fictitious case studies. In doing so, students have the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is a crucial skill that is highly advantageous in a range of roles across various sectors and is one of skills in most demand by employers. In essence, it is the ability to address problems and come up with better solutions: a skill that is essential in just about any context.
Through case-based learning, students can practise their critical thinking on real-world examples, preparing them to apply the same approach in a professional setting after they graduate.
It Exposes Students to Different Approaches
Through discussing real-life cases and examples in a group setting, students gain exposure to other points of view and perspectives. By working together as a group, students will consider different aspects of a problem, come up with new solutions, and be able to think outside the box.
Perhaps even more importantly, they get to know other thought processes and methods for approaching a problem. This insight can be incredibly useful and help students to further develop their own critical thinking process.
It Helps Students Develop Collaboration Skills
Case-based learning typically requires students to critically assess case studies as a group, and discuss the challenges, solutions, and lessons they can draw from the example. This process involves a high degree of collaboration and communication, so helps students to practise and develop a range of skills necessary for productive teamwork. These skills include clearly communicating their point of view, listening to others’ opinions, disagreeing in a productive way, and dealing with conflict. All of these are invaluable skills in virtually any professional setting.
It Fosters Self-Reflection
How we view situations and the conclusions we reach are often heavily influenced by our own experiences and biases. Being able to reflect on your own thought processes and identify these biases can help you to more objectively assess problems and come up with better solutions.
The case-based learning method encourages students to break down situations, and dive deeper into their own assessments and opinions. This can be extremely useful in fostering meta-cognition, the ability to critically assess your own thought process, allowing you to identify any gaps in your thinking and develop stronger solutions to problems.
It Strengthens Relationships
Finally, by working together to solve case studies, students participating in case-based learning will develop stronger relationships with their peers. A closer student cohort can have a wide range of advantages, from better learning outcomes to group support and future networking opportunities.
Additionally, as part of studying real-world cases, learners may have the opportunity to work with professionals and industry leaders. This gives rise to further, invaluable learning and networking opportunities.
Optimise Your Learning with EDHEC
EDHEC online programs are all based on a case-based learning approach, allowing students to develop their collaboration and critical thinking skills, while expanding their knowledge through case studies related to the reality of businesses.
Our online courses use a combination of the latest technology and innovative training methods to deliver the highest standards of education to a global student cohort.