Questioning

The methods and best practices for utilizing case studies in teaching and training initiatives provide opportunities to bring authentic scenarios into educational experiences.  Depending on how case studies are integrated into an educational space, students can increase research skills by conducting the research to develop interview questions when conceptualizing a case or locate additional sources to better understand themes; develop writing skills by writing, peer reviewing, workshopping, and revising cases; expand critical thinking skills by defining or articulating problems or complexities in cultural contexts; engage intercultural competency skills by listening to multiple perspectives, participating in dialogue, and considering cultural dynamics; and explore problem solving skills by conceptualizing action plans and promoting critical self-reflection.

Questions are an imperative aspect of using case studies in education. Initial questions faculty ask about a case can set the tone and dictate distinct pathways of discussion. Follow-up questions can frame and target the content of a dialogue or student learning. Questions can also encourage participation or quickly end a conversation. How questions are asked, when questions are introduced into the discussion, and what kinds of questions are posed affect how a case is processed and the terrains of student learning.

In addition to the discussion questions included with each case, some general questions to consider when debriefing a case are below.

Analyzing the case

  • What is the situation?
  • How did this individual find himself or herself in this situation?
  • What are the different values, norms, or interests of different actors in this case?
  • Are these different values, norms, or interests in opposition to one another?
  • What are the power relationships between different actors in this scenario?
  • How do power relationships influence this case?
  • What cultural frame is helpful in understanding the behaviors and actions of those involved?
  • What factors may have influenced the evolution of events?
  • What cultural, societal, or political aspects of this case created the problem?

Solving the case

  • Do you foresee a viable solution?
  • If you were the individual in this case, what would you do?
  • If you were advising the individual in this case, what would you tell them?
  • Would some sort of compromise be possible or useful in this case?
  • What are alternative solutions?
  • What ethical issues does this situation present?

Contextualizing the case

  • What additional information would be useful as you consider this case?
  • Where else may we see a similar situation?
  • What assumptions underlie the actions of the actors in the case?
  • How would you describe what it is like to experience what this individual experienced?
  • What histories are important to consider when evaluating this case?
  • What resources or support did the individual have to face their situation?
  • What barriers, if any, did the individual have in facing their situation on their own?
  • Should others have helped support the individual in this situation? If so, how?

Learning from the case

  • What can we learn from this case?
  • Is there additional information that might be helpful when considering this case?
  • What feelings do you have after reading and discussing this case?
  • Will our discussion about this case change your behavior in any way?
  • Does this case prompt you to rethink any of your assumptions?
  • How would you have handled this situation differently?
  • Was there something about this case that surprised you?
  • If you had to describe this case in one word, what would it be?