A case studies session consists of several detailed description of events that are used for discussion and learning. The events can be taken from a real life situation or can be completely fictional. The purpose of a case study is take the group closer to the real context of a situation or problem and identify its cause and solution.
A case study can be used as part of a training workshop to facilitate a learning point or as part of an assessment programme to gauge candidate’s response and analysis of situations. Case studies can be great for sharing experiences and reaffirming knowledge and understanding.
Here are some reasons to give a case study a try:
- increases awareness of a problem and helps teams formulate possible solutions.
- exchanges ideas and helps team members share past experiences.
- helps to analyse a problem and reach a decision as a team.
- facilitates and reaffirms key learning points.
Pre-printed scenario cards (optional)
Small. Classroom or training room
6 to 16 people
- 5 minutes to introduction and setup
- 10 minutes per case study for analysis and discussion (based on 4 case studies)
- 5 minutes for final review and case study debrief
Case Study Setup
Select the topic or theme that you were like to focus on during the training exercise. Prepare some possible scenarios or research articles related to the subject.
Case studies should be descriptions of events that really happened or fictional but based on reality. When leading the exercise, you can present the case study yourself, provide it in written form or even use videos or audio clips.
When I lead case studies sessions, I normally print the question on a piece of A4 paper and laminate them ready for workshop.
Case Study Instructions
From experience, I have found that a case studies session can be delivered two different ways.
The first way is to simply provide the group with a scenario and let them discuss it together as one big group.
The alternative is to split the group into smaller sub-groups and provide each group with the scenario. Once all groups have an opportunity to analyse and discuss the scenario, ask each group to present their findings back. This is a good way to get participants that are less likely to open up in bigger groups involved.
Look at your group and think about what will work best and give you the results you need.
When leading the case studies session, actively listen to discussion and provide necessary assistance to facilitate (guide) the analysis and discussion in the proper direction. Make sure you lead the discussion towards the learning objectives of the training workshop.
If you have people that conflicting views, then let them argue their points. If the discussion becomes too heated, stop them and summarise the discussion points and move on.
If everyone in the group agrees on something, or the discussion becomes stagnant then try playing devil’s advocate to get participants to look at the scenario from a different point of view.
When introducing the scenario, ask the group to think about the following 5 questions:
- What’s the problem?
- What’s the cause of the problem?
- How could the problem have been avoided?
- What are the solutions to the problem?
- What can you learn from this scenario?
Try to be flexible with your timings. If you need to stop a scenario early because the group become too heated or the group have explored the subject completely, stop them and summarise before moving on. If the scenario leads to valuable learning and you’re running out of time, allow an extra five minutes and skip another scenario.
Tips and Guidance
A good way to lead up to a case study is to present the scenario to the group at the end of the day and ask them to read up on the material and prepare in the evening. The first part of the following days’ workshop should then be the case study.
I like to lead a case study session by simply handed over the question cards and letting the group begin the discussion on their own. At the end of the discussion, I’ll summarise the key points – help them identify why the case study was important to the learning and move on to the next one.
If you’re discussing any sensitive subjects such as child protection etc then it is important to tell the group at the beginning of the case study. Explain that anything discussed exercise must not be mentioned again and if anyone needs to leave for a couple of minutes then they are more than welcome to.
Questions? Comments? Let us know in the comments below!