“Building student confidence in tackling business case studies – the assisted case study approach” (Area 3)

Dr Richard Nicholls (WBS)

Business management is commonly taught through the use of case studies, and much evidence exists to suggest that this is an effective approach. There are different types of case study and they can vary considerably in terms of complexity. This paper focuses on longer written case studies, which are often in the region of 5 to 10+ pages. Classically associated with the Harvard Business School approach, there is an assumption that students will pre-read the case study and come to class able to discuss and answer questions on the case. Incidental feedback during a business strategy module taught by the author revealed that some students were finding it challenging to read and navigate the case studies being used. Although wishing to engage closely in the module, such students described themselves as ‘feeling lost’ and increasingly demotivated. As a response to this situation I conceptualised the need to provide this type of student with a series of stepping stones to greater autonomy and confidence in the use of case studies. The paper describes and illustrates some of the activities which were developed and used in class to assist students in getting to grips with case studies

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