Firstly, let’s clarify what I mean by a case study. I’m not talking about a retrospective account of something you (or someone else) did not demonstrate good practice. Leave those for the marketing people. I’m talking about a fictitious scenario that people analyse, discuss and make decisions about.
Out of all the tools in my trainers kit bag, this is definitely one of my favourite – even for bite-sized sessions. Here are 10 reasons why:
- They appeal to everyone – no-one ever said they hate case studies, and everyone engages with them at some level. Whether you have more reflective learners or those who want to get stuck in, case studies allow everyone to contribute.
- They require very little introduction – with no complex instructions to explain, people instinctively know what do, so can get stuck in straight way.
- They are flexible – you can spend as little as 10 minutes on a case study or half a day, depending on complexity and number of issues being explored.
- They allow exploration of different perspectives - You can revisit them at different points and look at them through a different lens each time.
- They are versatile – you can use to introduce a topic, bring together learning at the end, or explore something specific in the middle of a session.
- They are multi-faceted – you can explore one topic, or dig deeper. This makes them equally useful for beginners or experts. Different people pick up on different things.
- They allow you to tackle real problems in an anonymised way – everyone will recognise the situations, but no-one has to admit to having experienced the issues themselves, which makes them easier to talk about.
- They can provide a running theme for a workshop, or even a whole programme! I have used complex case studies (drip-fed throughout the day) to build on learning and cover multiple topics.
- They can provide a (sneaky) way into role plays – tell us how you would handle this can easily become “show us how you would handle that”
- They build a bridge between theory and practicality – examining how theory looks in the fictitious scenario makes it easier to identify what it will look like in THEIR world. This also makes practical action planning, and transfer of learning easier.
- ... and who doesn't love a good story?