Skeletal Cases

Want to develop students' investigatory skills? Then instead of presenting complete case-studies, provide only the initial "presenting information", and only add to it in response to their questions. There are a number of variations on the theme:

It strikes me that these all find their way in various ways into what Shulman calls "signature pedagogies"—the distinctive ways of teaching which are characteristic of many professions—such as the ward round in medicine. This linked article bemoans the lack of a signture pedagogy for teaching. I would have thought there were many, including microteaching.

Of course you don't always have to generate the problem yourself. If you are teaching people with some experience under their belts, they are very likely to come with their own real-world cases, and those can generate some of the most fruitful teaching sessions you will ever have. (Assuming that the "cases" have not merely been contrived to test you out). However, don't just engage with the case yourself, and don't simply "throw it open" to everyone. The idea is that the process can work on two levels (at least);

If you miss out on reflection, with the class, on the second level you lose much of the benefit.

To reference this page copy and paste the text below:

Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; [On-line: UK] retrieved from

Original material by James Atherton: last up-dated overall 10 February 2013

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