There’s a famous case study that’s taught as an example of how good customer service should operate.
The story goes like this: a man calls up General Motors, or GM, to complain that his car doesn’t start every time he goes to buy vanilla ice cream. At first, they ignore it as a prank call. After repeated complaints, however, GM sends out an engineer. A detailed investigation begins and indeed, every time the man stops for vanilla ice cream, the car fails to start. With all other flavors it’s fine. After ruling out other mechanical issues, the engineer discovers the real problem is that thanks to how the store is designed, the driver returns to the car faster after buying vanilla ice cream than he does after purchasing other flavors. The complaint is genuine, but the cause is not the car’s hatred for vanilla ice cream, but in the vapor lock that forms in the engine but doesn’t get time to clear out because of his quick return!
This is an oft-quoted case study, and with good reason. It’s an interesting puzzle. It grabs the imagination. It shows how even the most absurd-seeming complaints can have a basis in reality.
This is one of the many examples of case-based learning.
What Is Case-based Learning?
Theoretical instruction can be dull—but it doesn’t have to be. One way teachers can make information and knowledge come alive is case-based learning.
Case study based learning is a kind of experiential approach allowing learners to apply academic principles and theories to real-life situations, giving them a greater understanding of what they’re being taught. Cases are usually written as stories that illustrate how general principles apply to specific situations. It’s often applied to management or policy discussions, but can be used in any field.
How To Use Case-based Learning?
In education, case-based learning is often applied to teach management and business courses. They expose students to real-world business scenarios to teach them various management approaches. Case-based learning allows students to see how principles and theories play out in real-life situations. It gives a greater depth of understanding about what’s being taught than just reading the theory.
Here are some features of case-based learning:
Students develop skills and insights that apply to a wide variety of situations when they learn from real-world stories and examples.
Case study based learning allows students to learn at their own pace and then work together when necessary. It can be used in a wide variety of settings—business and education, for learners both young and old.
Case-based learning develops communication skills as students need to analyze what they’ve read and articulate it verbally or in writing.
A case-based learning model is a generic approach that can apply to any content. Instructors need to think about how the cases will be used and who’ll create them to get the most out of it.
Educators have used case-based learning for many years and studies have shown it can improve information retention. But that doesn’t mean it’s without drawbacks.
Disadvantages Of Case-based Learning
Finally, let’s take a quick look at where case-based learning may be less effective:
Testing Is Tough
A case-based approach does not lend itself to standardized grading. It facilitates dialogue between faculty and students. Sometimes learners might submit analytical pieces in writing. But these formats are hard to assess objectively as is the need with standardized tests.
Quality Is Important
The usefulness of a case study is linked to how the teacher presents it. If students are to draw the proper conclusion, it’s important that instructors are familiar with the organizations being discussed and can lead them to the correct insights.
Calls For Accuracy
Another criticism of a case-based approach is that they’re often developed or written by outsiders and don’t take into account the unique needs of individual organizations. If someone with no grasp of the ground realities of the situation writes the case study, then the inferences they make may also be misleading.
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