Cases in the classroom
Teaching cases have been used since ANZSOG’s inception, chiefly because they reflect the world our learners operate in – a world where they frequently wrestle with situations that are ambiguous, involve conflicting goals or interests, and have potential outcomes with serious implications. Humans are also wired for narrative: stories are one of the oldest pedagogical methods, dating back to tales around the campfire.
Case-based learning, where students are asked to consider the problems facing the protagonist or organisation and propose a response, are used in a variety of settings to foster active learning. Research indicates that cases are an effective tool in public affairs education, enhancing student engagement, understanding and recall. Case-based learning also encourages collaborative learning, critical reflection and the integration of knowledge and practice (Careaga-Tagüeña and Sanabria-Pulido, 2022).
In a similar vein, the former Dean of the Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohira, found that his alumni consistently claimed that they had gained their most valuable skills from the process of grappling with cases (Nohira, 2022). These ‘’meta-skills” proved very useful as his former students progressed in their careers and applied them to different situations. They included the ability to:
- zero in on the most important information and tune out noise,
- deal with confusing or incomplete data,
- challenge personal bias and appreciate other viewpoints,
- make and communicate decisions effectively,
- run more focused discussions and deliberate productively,
- assume different roles and build self-confidence.
Below is a selection of articles, papers and reports that explore the how and why of case-teaching and learning in various settings, as well as research on the power of narrative more generally.
Case teaching tips and guides
The case for case-based learning
Narrative and neuropsychology
About the John L. Alford Case Library
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Developing new case studies
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