Case Teaching Resources

The following resources could prove useful to instructors interested in learning more about case method teaching.

Common Pitfalls in Case Teaching

While there are many potential benefits to case teaching, there are also several common pitfalls that can be avoided with adequate preparation. Click here for a list of common problems instructors encounter in case teaching and potential solutions.

The Art of Questioning

Professor Roland C. Christensen of the Harvard Business School described case method teaching as "the art of asking the right question, of the right student, at the right time, and in the right way." Click here to learn more about generating interest and facilitating focused inquiry among students with case-method teaching.

Articles on Cases

Making the Case: Professional education for the world of practice by David A. Garvin (Harvard Magazine)

All professional schools face the same difficult challenge: how to prepare students for the world of practice. Time in the classroom must somehow translate directly into real-world activity: how to diagnose, decide, and act. A surprisingly wide range of professional schools, including Harvard's law, business, and medical schools, have concluded that the best way to teach these skills is by the case method.

Teaching Ethics with Cases

This document is geared to support instructors who teach ethics with cases.

Master Case Teachers

This video series, available on the HKS Case Program website, covers such topics as preparing for class, structuring a case-based lesson, managing discussions, encouraging participation, transitioning from one block to the next, using the board, exploring the richness of cases, and why to teach with cases.

Developing Your Teaching Plan

​A teaching case is only as good as the in-class discussion and an effective in-class discussion needs an effective teaching plan.

There are three core elements of a teaching plan:

  1. Learning objectives: An effective learning objective will identify a key lesson or framework that is generalizable beyond the case. The learning objective is at the heart of why you teach with a case. It informs the choice of story/example, the case structure, and the analytical task set forth in the case.
  2. Discussion Blocks: Discussion blocks are distinct portions of the in-class discussion that follow a pre-planned roadmap in order to scaffold student progress in working through the analytical tasks. With the right questions, discussion blocks focus student inquiry, challenge assumptions, and deepen collective understanding of a key element of the challenge laid out in the case.
  3. Wrap-up: The wrap-up at the end of the in-class discussion is a vital to the teaching plan.  It allows instructors to integrate different threads of discussion as well as distill and underscore generalizable lessons from the case.

For information on how SLATE can help support the development of customized teaching plans as well as a video series on master case framers, we invite HKS faculty to visit us on KNet (password required).

Preparing Students to Learn by the Case Method

​In case-method teaching instructors typically don't lecture in class but instead serve as moderators of a discussion between students who compare their different approaches on the challenge presented in the case.

It is important that students understand their role in case-method teaching and come to class prepared to learn from each other, so together they gain a richer understanding of the dilemmas and principles involved in the case.

This six-page document on learning by the case method gives students both a compelling rationale for learning by the case-method, as well as concrete tips on how to prepare for a case discussion. HKS faculty often assign this document at the beginning of the course to give students guidelines on how to prepare effectively for a case discussion, while conveying instructor expectations of students when a case is assigned.