Range from simple vignettes illustrating issues in the practice of a discipline, through to complex sets of documentation which may require analysis and research. Questions may be short answer: "Was Anne within her rights to insist on a refund? What legislation governs this situation?" to complex plans for a marketing strategy, or proposals for a design solution.
- Excellent for asessment of application of principles to real-world situations. Can reach all the way up Bloom's original taxonomy to "synthesis" and "evaluation".
- Provides useful information for formative purposes, including diagnosis of problems, because answering the questions or meeting the requirements is often a multi-stage process.
- Do not use where criteria for assessment of correct or
successful answers are contestable or unclear (although it is acceptable for there to be
several “correct” answers).
- Requires a degree of sophistication on the part of students when used at any level beyond the "single-issue" case.
- The level of detail has to be addressed carefully. If too sparse, it may well suggest its own answers: if too complex, students can get lost. Distracting information is legitimate, but should be introduced with care. Do not carried away with the story!
- Case-studies are usually presented in textual form, although videos and spreadsheets have their place in appropriate disciplines. Note that the translation of material into text presents its own problems.
- Both the design and the marking of case-study based work is time-consuming, and they really need to be piloted and revised in the light of feedback, which makes them problematic for use for examinations.
- Can be used in conjunction with several other methods: they may shade into simulations, can form the basis of project briefs, and lend themselves to collaborative working
See also Problem-Based Learning