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Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) - Case Study Outlines

See the complete STIRS Case Studies Guidelines for more specific details and instructions about the case studies.

The Student Case

The Student Case includes the materials that students will read ahead of time or during class.  The student case should draw the learner in, capturing his or her interest with a compelling narrative.  However, effective teaching cases don’t just tell a good story and then relate the lessons learned; in fact, they typically don’t supply many answers.  Good teaching cases provide students with opportunities – such as through analysis and discussion, debate, or role play – to participate actively in their learning.  Cases, while differing widely in style, often share these common elements:  

  • Learning Objectives
  • Preparatory Materials – What should students read, view, or listen to in preparation for the case study?
  • Introduction - Introduce the critical challenges or problems that will need to be overcome.
  • Background and Context/Situation Analysis – Provide information about the concept/program /problem/policy question/context that students will need to address the case questions.
  • Optional:  Key Questions – Ask these throughout the case, or at the end.  (Or if you think it preferable for student learning, omit them from the Student Case and include only in the Facilitator Guide.)
  • References
  • About the Authors
  • Optional:  Exhibits and Supplemental Materials

The Facilitator’s Guide

The Facilitator’s Guide should prepare a naïve instructor to teach the case.  It is supplemental to the Student Case and should include these elements:

  • Abstract and Case Classification
  • Teaching Suggestions – Discuss courses the case might be used in, include Key Questions (if not part of the Student Case), and include suggestions for teaching the case and organizing student activities.
  • Answers to Key Questions and Additional Background Information – Elaborate on background /history/context that will help the instructor effectively teach the case.  Discuss answers to the case’s Key Questions and summarize key issues the case raises.
  • Assessment of Student Learning – Suggest written assignments or exam questions that could be used to demonstrate student attainment of case learning objectives.  Also provide sample answers.
  • Case Evaluation – Suggest AAC&U VALUE rubrics which might be used to assess case effectiveness.
  • Linkage of Case Learning Objectives to STIRS Keywords and STIRS Competencies
  • References 
  • Optional:  Further Information – Mention additional reading or resources that might be helpful.
  • Optional:  Epilogue – What happened following the events described in this case?

Review the complete STIRS Case Studies Guidelines for more specific details and instructions about the case studies.

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