When it comes to teaching with cases, managing case discussion is both an art and a science. As educators, we grapple with the delicate balance of guiding conversations while allowing students to take ownership. In this guide, we’ll explore four common scenarios for managing case discussions and provide strategies for each. As case facilitators, knowing when to intervene and when to let the discussion flow is essential to success.
- Managing Case Discussion: Keeping Focus on One Topic In the world of case teaching, maintaining a focused discussion can be challenging. Students often contribute diverse ideas, especially when tackling complex cases. To address this, consider these strategies for managing case discussions:
- Use the board: Employ a labeled but blank board to steer discussions back on track.
- Refocus with follow-up questions: Gently guide students by asking clarifying questions.
- Pause and reframe: Summarize the discussion and highlight relevant points, aiding the transition.
Effective management of case discussions means embracing unpredictability and being open to tangential topics, which can lead to valuable learning and engagement opportunities.
- Managing Case Discussion: Encouraging Correct Analyses While case discussions may not always have a “right” answer, there are situations where a correct analysis is crucial, especially in quantitative courses. To encourage students to develop their solutions, consider these tactics:
- Pre-class analysis submissions: Request students to submit their analyses before class.
- Cold-calling: Challenge students to participate actively and develop solutions.
- Break down the question: Divide complex analyses into manageable parts.
- Small group discussions: Facilitate group work, distributing expertise and providing support.
- Managing Case Discussion: Closing Discussion on a Topic Sometimes, students become deeply engrossed in a topic, making it challenging to transition. To address this, use key break points in your teaching plan and consider the following strategies:
- Student summary: Request a student to summarize the discussion to conclude the topic.
- Self-summary: Summarize the discussion yourself using student comments and transition to the next topic.
- Use related comments: Link a student’s comment to the next topic, signaling the transition.
Flexibility is paramount in case teaching; reflect on time management and adapt your approach for future classes.
- Managing Case Discussion: Addressing Problematic Behavior or Speech In some instances, students may violate class norms or university policies, demanding immediate action. To navigate such situations effectively, ask these questions before acting:
- Clarity of norms: Ensure everyone is aware of class norms and take this as an opportunity to remind students of shared expectations.
- Context: Understand the factors influencing student behavior.
- Impact on learning: Assess the gravity of the situation and its disruption.
Recognize that acknowledging an issue may suffice in some cases, but for more significant concerns, consider turning incidents into learning opportunities for students.
Conclusion: Effective management of case discussions is an essential skill for educators. Embrace the unpredictability of case teaching, allowing students to grapple with challenges, and trust that they will rise to the occasion. By mastering the art of managing case discussions, you create an environment where students actively co-create knowledge, enhancing their learning experience.