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Creating Effective Group Assignments, Case studies, and Problems

Group of people sit at a table writing on notepads

This workshop provided ideas and tools for creating and managing effective group assignments to reduce the pain and increase the productivity.

Case-Based Learning is an interactive, student-centered exploration of realistic and specific narratives that provide grist for inductive learning. Students engage in the intellectual and emotional exercise of facing complex problems and making critical decisions within the constraints imposed by reality. For example, there might be limited time and information as well as pervasive uncertainty.

Rich environments for active learning create comprehensive instructional systems that

“encourage the growth of student responsibility, initiative, decision making, and international learning; cultivate collaboration among students and teachers; utilize dynamic, interdisciplinary, generative learning activities that promote higher-order thinking processes to help students develop rich and complex knowledge structures.” (Grabinger and Dunlop, 1995)

When using case-based learning, creating a useful problem is enhanced when the Team-Based Learning (TBL) 4 Ss are used:

1. Significant Problem

2. Same Problem

    • Saves time
    • Keeps students interested in what others are doing

3. Specific Choice

    • Multiple plausible/correct choices to choose from

4. Simultaneous Reporting

    • Saves time
    • Keeps students interested

There are eight steps in designing a case study.

  1. Content learning objectives
  2. Problem identification
  3. Student Roles in solving the problem
  4. Competencies beyond the content that students will develop
  5. Determine background story for the case – make it come alive with details
  6. Access resources to create artifacts – images, data, maps, etc.
  7. Plan the sequence of the class – how will this be presented, scaffolded, etc.
  8. Plan how you will teach with cases – consider situational factors, etc.

A well-crafted case takes some time and effort and will engage students in the learning process and enhance their ability to apply content and develop process (soft and/or people) skills.


Rich environments for active learning: a definition. Grabinger and Dunlop, 1995

Teaching with Cases: Learning to Question. Boehrer and Linksy (1990)

Written By:

Shawn Simonson