History of the Term "Cases ":
Cases have a history in professions such as ; business, clinical psychology, law, medicine, and public. The most common two fields with particularly long and contrasting traditions of using the cases-method are business and law ( Goodenough 1994 and AAHE 1991 cited in Ali 2003).Cases have been used in business curriculum to stimulate analysis, to open discussions, and to determine the action that should be taken. The purpose of case-based method in law is to illuminate specific precedents . There are two major characteristics which can distinguish the use of cases in legal education from others in business. First , is the existence of a well-defined knowledge base with discernible threads of precedent and deductive logic in general education. Second, it stresses the human conditions and the importance of interaction (Ali 2003 ) .The Definition of Term " Cases "
In recent years, cases are used in the field of methodology to help teachers think, analyze, evaluate, criticize, and reflect about their teaching . Cases help teachers to deal with each student as a special case by himself / herself .Moreover, cases help teachers take better decisions concerning their classrooms. Cases teach teachers that the taken decisions can't be generalized as each case has its own circumstances which must be taken into account .
Cases are narratives, situations, select data samplings, or statements that present unresolved and provocative issues, situations, or questions. As a teaching/learning tool, cases challenge participants to analyze, critique, make judgments, speculate and express reasoned opinions. The information included must be rich enough to make the situation credible, but not so complete as to close off discussion or exploration . According to Ali ( 2003) cases are always specific, well documented and richly described instructional event .
Types of Cases
Finished cases based on facts -for analysis only, since the solution is indicated or alternate solutions are suggested.
Unfinished open-ended cases, where the results are not yet clear (either because the case has not come to a factual conclusion in real life, or because the instructor has eliminated the final facts.) Students must predict, make choices and offer suggestions that will affect the outcome .
Fictional cases entirely written by the instructor—can be open-ended or finished. Cautionary note: the case must be both complex enough to mimic reality, yet not have so many “red herrings” as to obscure the goal of the exercise.
Real cases- cases can be based on real world situations, although some facts may be changed to simplify the scenario or "protect the innocent" ( Foran 2002, Ali 2003 and Pyatt 2006).
Categories of Cases
Ali ( 2003 ) mentioned that ( Koziol , Minnick , and Ali 1996 ) suggested the following categories of cases:
1- Discipline / Management focus .
These cases focus on matters relating to the classroom behavior or misbehavior of one or more children . This would include such events as children using bad language in the classroom , talking back or being sarcastic to the teacher , getting into arguments or fights with other students , or being generally uncooperative such as by indicating their unwillingness to follow directions or rules . Often imbedded in this type of case are issues of interpersonal or intercultural differences that make the situation more complicated .
2- Interpersonal / Intercultural Focus.
These cases focus on some open conflict between the teacher and one or more students or among students that , at last , in part is attributed to personality , gender , or cultural misunderstandings . This would include encounters with students who are ''different'' .. speak differently , come from a strange or different area , have handicaps , look different or dress differently , etc .
3- Curriculum Decision-Making .
This may address matters of curriculum choice such as instances in which the students went to study something that the teacher dose not want to deal with or with the school insisting on the use of a curriculum or text that the teacher disapproves of . These may also address instances of the teacher wanting to incorporate topics that are not part of the given curriculum or the teacher having to make difficult content decisions on what to teach and when . These types of problems often show up in the decisions or dilemmas related to the design of specific lessons or units for an identified set of learners in a given classroom or school context .
4- Instructional Decision –Making.
These address a range of issues related to instructional implementation such as how toget children to participate in decisions and other instructional activities, how to engage disinterested students in their learning, how to select among competing options for student –assessment, how to implement particular instructional activities with different types of student, whether to or how to implement a particular type of reinforcement system, and how to grade or evaluate certain types of student work. Some of these types of cases focus on the teacher ' attitudes such as coping with disappointment when students do not seem to like or appreciate his or her efforts or efforts while others focus on technical aspects of implementation.
5- Teacher / Parent / community relationship:
This usually focus on tensions between the teacher and others outside of the school. This may include issues of having to deal with parents or other community representatives who object to what the teacher is trying to do and want him or her to return to doing the '' old things '' or may involve issues of school or community censorship. Other instances may address problems that arise during parent-teacher Conferences or a child's achievement or about the teacher's role and behavior in the community outside of school.
6- School politics / professionalism.
This focus on the actions and dilemmas that teacher face in their overall professional duties and rules in a school. This may deal with interaction and conflicts and with other teacher or school administrators as well as with matters such as how teacher are evaluated, joining or supporting local . regional and national professional groups, behaving ethically in relationships with other teacher and education professionals and in the handing of information about children, and participating in peer or beginning teacher development programs.
Case Method of Instruction ( CMI )
The case method of instruction (CMI) emphasizes the teaching of application skills . A trainee's mastery of theory, facts, and specific skills is considered important, but only in so far as the trainee is able to employ them in problem-solving and decision-making when confronted with real-life situations. The method was adopted and refined by the Harvard Business School in the mid-1900s and has since been incorporated into the training agendas of numerous professions to help bridge the gap between theory and practice ( McWilliam 2000 ) .
In CMI, students or trainees are presented with narrative descriptions of situations that trainers in their chosen profession are likely to encounter in their work. These narratives, or case stories, present a dilemma from the point of view of a trainer or group of trainers and, in the end, the situation is left unresolved. As in real life, the situations described are complex, with multiple factors contributing to the problem(s). In addition, there is no one obvious solution to the problem but, rather, several alternative solutions are possible ( McWilliam 2000 and Ali 2003 ) .
As many CMI instructors have pointed out, it is the process of arriving at a solution rather than the actual solution itself that is of primary importance and benefit to trainees. In addition to learning the basic steps of problem-solving, trainees who participate in the process also learn how to listen to the perspectives of others, how to effectively communicate their own views, how to deal with uncertainty, and how their personal values and beliefs contribute to their perspectives of a situation and the decisions they make ( McWilliam 2000 ).
Significance of Case-Method
Advocates of case-method in teacher education stress a variety of advantages for their use. Ali ( 2003 ) mentioned that Merseth ( 1991 ) identified five particular benefits to be obtained from case-based methods in teacher education . These benefits are :
1- Cases help prospective teacher develop skills of critical analysis and problem solving .
2- Case-method encourages practice and deliberate action .
3- Case-method helps beginning teachers , especially in gaining familiarity with analysis and action in complex situations that may not present a ''perfect'' match between theory and practice .
4- Case-method actively involves students in their own learning .
5- Case-method promotes the creation of a ''community of learns'' .
6- Case-method help teacher improve decision making . This consequently will improve the teacher's performance and successful teaching because teaching is nothing but a decision making .
7- Case-method help teacher to reflect upon his/her own teaching . This means to better analyze , criticize and improve his/ her teaching .
How to Write a Case
Writing a good case for teaching is neither simple nor quick, but sometimes is preferable to using one of the thousands that are now available. Wasserman (1994) offers some helpful guidance about writing a good case. After first being clear in your own mind about the “big idea” of the story, use the following guidelines:
• Draw the reader into the story during at the beginning.
• Build the case around an event of consequence.
• Raise the tension between conflicting points of view
• Write the story so that readers grow to care.
• Be sure the case is believable.
• End the case on the “horns of the dilemma.
Designing Case Study Questions
Just writing the story is not a finishing job. Developing discussion and study questions are also important. They help to continue the discussion and the focus on the related issues. Again, Wasserman (1994) offers some helpful guidance:
1. Begin with an examination of the events, issues and characters.
2. Move to an analysis of what lies behind the surface of events.
3. Put the students deeper into the case with generative questions that call for evaluations and judgments, applications and proposed solutions.
Cases can be more or less “directed” by the kinds of questions asked—these kinds of questions can be appended to any case, or could be a handout for trainees unfamiliar with case studies on how to approach one.
What is the situation—what do you actually know about it from reading the case? (Distinguishes between fact and assumptions critical understanding)
What issues are at stake? (Opportunity for linking to theoretical readings)
What questions do you have—what information do you still need? Where/how could you find it?
What problem(s) need to be solved? (Opportunity to discuss communication versus conflict, gaps between assumptions, sides of the argument)
What are all the possible options? What are the pros/cons of each option?
What are the underlying assumptions for [person X] in the case—where do you see them?
What criteria should you use when choosing an option? What does that mean about your assumptions? ( IU Teaching Handbook n.d.)
An Example of a Case Driven From Saudi Context
Faten's Behavior and Her Lecturer's Decision
Background of Education in Taif
Taif is considered one of the conservative cities in the western-south of Saudi Arabia .But it starts to gets its way to the development especially in the field of education in all its stages (elementary ,intermediate ,secondary and high education) .
The Faculty of Education is one of the education institutions in Taif . It is a branch of Taif University . When Faten study there , it had four departments : Arabic Language , English Language , History and Islamic studies . But now it is different . The lecturers work in it are either from inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia or from outside it especially from Egypt .
Dr. Hanan is one of the lecturers which the university is proud of them . She is specialized in Ed.psychology that is why she is very quiet and sober minded . She respects her students' opinion except if it doesn't oppose other personal matters . At the same time she is strict. She dose not want any student to come late to her lecture. She likes discipline in the lectures . In her lecture one can't hear any voice from the students except their participations .
In one of the years the Faculty of Education adopted a new policy which was students had the right to submit their mid-term exam schedule by their own. But there should be an agreement between the students and the lecturers . Also , the faculty college administration gave the priority to students' circumstances at first conditioned that it wasn't conflicting with the class time .
Faten was an excellent student in English Language Department . She used to make the schedule of the final exam every year . She considered students' needs and circumstances . She did not look at the difficulty or simplicity of the subjects from her point of view but from her friends' point of view .
In one day in the last level specifically in the second term . The deanship of the faculty asked the students to put a schedule for the mid-term exam . The students immediately went to Faten and asked her to make the schedule . Faten started to suggest the schedule and after finishing it she shared it with her collogues in order to take their agreement . Students approved the final version suggested schedule by Faten .Upon getting students' approval she followed the same procedures with the lecturers.
Faten started to show Dr. Hanan the schedule at the beginning of her lecture . Dr. Hanan did not agree with Faten's suggested schedule as she wanted her test course to be in the first day . Faten commented that " your course Dr. Hanan is general and too easy and I have my justifications for delaying your course to the end of the week as I think that the first days should cover the most difficult courses. ". Dr. Hanan again rejected that justification and insisted on having her test course in the first day. Dr. Hanan ended the conversation by telling Faten that she didn't like to talk in this issue any more. Faten said : " This is a dialogue between us , didn't you encourage the dialogue between the lecturers and students ? "
Dr. Hanan said : " No , I don't want to continue this dialogue forever ." From the characteristics of Faten is that when she became annoyed , she did not talk any more in order not to enlarge the problem . Also , she did not want to be embarrassed in front of her friends . She was a very sensitive person. That's why she became silent during the lecture and didn't talk any more .
Dr. Hanan started her lecture and she observed that Faten was very sad and effected by her speech . That's why she called Faten to talk with her . But Faten did not respond . Dr. Hanan again called Faten but she didn't reply her again . Faten did that because she was trying hard to control her feelings of anger, crying ... etc
Here Dr. Hanan became very angry and started to talk loudly with Faten in front of her friends . Faten kept herself calm and quite as possible . Dr. Hanan's reaction was to deprive Faten from the participation scores .
Although these participation scores should be distributed across the entire weeks of the term , Faten was given a zero for the whole term just in this class .
So , Dose Dr. Hanan have the right to do that ? Be noted that Dr. Hanan changed her mind in depriving Faten from the participation scores after her meeting with Faten .
Key Issues for Study
Put in your mind that :
1- Dr. Hanan respected her students when she called Faten to talk with her but Faten did not reply.
2- Faten was an outstanding student and she tried to control her feelings .
3- Faten considered students' needs and circumstances when she suggested the schedule .
4- The faculty administration and policy gave the priority to students' circumstances at first .
5- The faculty is trying to experiment the idea for the first time.(i.e. students suggest the schedule by their own) .
1) Suppose you were Dr. Hanan . How would you deal with Faten's behavior ?
2) Will you agree with Dr. Hanan in depriving Faten from the participation scores and why ?
3) Was Dr. Hanan right to change her mind and to correct her reaction in not depriving Faten from participation scores ?
4) What do you think the effects of this change in decision will be on other students?
5) Do you think that Dr. Hanan is a democratic or autocratic lecturer and why ?
6) Do you agree that students should submit their schedules by themselves ?
7) What is the real problem you see in this case ? Who is behind it ?
8) What suggestions you can add to avoid such situations ?
9) If you were Faten would you go to Dr. Hanan and excuse in order not to lose your participation scores ? Or would you go to the dean and prevent Dr. Hanan from doing that ?
10) Finally, if you were Dr. Hanan what your reaction would be ?
References 1- Ali, E.A.(2003) . Enhancing Teachers' Reflection and Decision-Making Through Cases, Egypt : Dar Al-Kasry Printing House 2- Foran, J. ( 2002 ). Case - Method Teaching.available at : http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/projects/casemethod/teaching.html 3- Goodenough, D.A. (1994) .Teaching with Case Studies , Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching . available at : http://ctl.stanford.edu/Newsletter/case_studies.pdf 4- IU Teaching Handbook (n.d.). available at : http://www.teaching.iub.edu /wrapper_big.php?section_id=case 5- McWilliam, P.J. (2000). Instructors Guide for Lives in Progress: Case Stories in Early Intervention, Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. available at http://www.cmiproject.net/about_cmi.htm 6- Pyatt, E. J. (2006) .Using Cases in Teaching , Penn State University. available at http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/cases/index.html 7- Wasserman, S. (1994). Introduction to case method teaching: A guide to the galaxy. New York: Teachers College Press.