How to Facilitate A Case Study Exercise

By Katherine Friedrich
Based on an interview with
Dr. James Stith of the American Institute of Physics

Case studies are useful tools in discussions of diversity in technical fields. Discussing cases can help participants open up and talk with their colleagues about their experiences as professors and students. (For example, a professor resistant to conversations about diversity may sit near a colleague who has had personal experiences that are relevant to the discussion.) As people begin to speak openly with each other, the discussion provides evidence to reluctant participants that diversity is a topic worthy of consideration.

The purpose of case study discussion is not to solve the problems of racism, sexism, or other forms of discrimination in an hour, but to create an open forum in which all points of view are respected. It is not necessary for the group to find the most politically correct answer, the most compassionate answer, or the most pragmatic answer to the questions raised by the case.

A good facilitator is interested in diversity, willing to question his or her own ideas, and willing to listen. His or her job is to foster group discussion of the issues and problems in the case scenario, discuss possible responses to the problem, and explore the consequences of these responses.

During preparation, the facilitator should read the study and think through the case. Next, the facilitator should identify some flexible guiding goals and a few issues of interest, and develop a set of questions that he or she plans to ask.

Before presenting a workshop, it is a good idea to become familiar with participants' seniority, the demographics of the group, and their familiarity with diversity issues. It is also useful to know which issues may be controversial in that state or on that campus.

Case studies that deal with social problems are much more effective when presented together with statistics. A few simple but visually striking charts or graphs from reliable sources, presented before the case is introduced, can put the study in context and motivate listeners to take interest in the material.

A skilled facilitator speaks without lecturing. Through creative use of open-ended questions, he or she guides the discussion. Well-conceived questions do not have easy "yes or no" answers. It is essential to avoid injecting preconceived responses into the conversation. A facilitator should answer questions with other questions, stimulating further discussion. In an educational culture where people are trained to seek solutions, this lack of easy answers may surprise the group.

Some case study facilitators use a forceful method of questioning, known as the Socratic Method, to encourage participants to think critically about issues. Other facilitators simply ask a question and then step back to observe the conversation that unfolds, only interjecting a comment when it is necessary to maintain the positive group dynamics and the flow of conversation. Most facilitators prefer an intermediate method (Herreid, 2004).

An effective method of generating dialogue is to divide the participants into groups and tell them that, after a small group discussion, you will ask one member of each group to present their conclusions to the rest of the participants. Groups of three to four people are large enough to generate a variety of responses, but small enough that everyone has the opportunity to speak. The facilitator can circulate around the room and pose questions to quiet groups. The facilitator can also share ideas generated by one group with other groups to stimulate discussion.

Some problems may develop during the small group session. For instance, one participant may dominate the small group discussion, another may be silent, or group members may completely disagree on the major issues presented in the case. However, these problems are not difficult to address. If a disagreement develops at a table, the participants can present both sides of the issue to the larger group when the groups rejoin. If one person is unusually quiet, the facilitator can ask that person to report the small group's consensus to the larger group.

During the large group discussion, a lively dialogue may take place between groups. To add depth to the discussion, the facilitator may encourage groups to explore the reasons that they selected the conclusions they produced. With experience, a facilitator learns when to ask a question and when to allow conversation to continue. It is a good idea for the facilitator to continue to move around the room during this period.

Aside from setup requirements typical of most lectures (e.g., audiovisual technology), there are some logistical issues unique to case study facilitation. Some practical considerations for your setup will include:

1. Flexible seating arrangements are preferable to fixed auditorium-style seating because of the movement and reconfiguration of groups that takes place.


2. It is also important to allow sufficient time for facilitation. Some experts recommend 90 minutes for a thorough discussion of a case (Herreid, 2004).

 

The following is a sample schedule for facilitating a case:
5-10 minutes-Orientation
40-50 minutes-Small Group Discussion
20-30 minutes-Large Group Discussion

As a facilitator becomes more comfortable working with groups and smoothly directing the flow of conversation, he or she will likely find that the case study method is especially rewarding.

Case studies, sometimes called case-based learning, can be an effective tool for delivering technical content, but here we use them to explore diversity issues. This method, which fosters dialogue and values all participants' experiences, may be one of our best tools for fostering a welcoming culture in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.


 

References

Herreid, C. F. (2004). Case studies in science: A novel method of science education. Retrieved December 11, 2004, from http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/teaching/novel.html

Stith, J. Vice President, Physics Resources, American Institute of Physics. Personal interview, December 23, 2004.

Comments

I just so happened to come across your blog

I just so happened to come across your blog and was instantly amazed with all the useful information that is on it. Great post, just what i was looking for and i am looking forward to reading your other posts soon. jual ikan cupang hias

thesis help uk

I should say only that its awesome! http://www.dissertationarena.co.uk/ <a href="http://www.dissertationarena.co.uk/">thesis help uk</a> The blog is informational and always produce amazing things

Watch The Fosters Online. The

Watch The Fosters Online. The Fosters are a bi-racial couple who are raising a biological son along with several other adoptive children.

I love reading through an

I love reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment ! cosmetic surgeons

This is just the information

This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks for your blog, I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog. wordpress

Thanks for writing such a

Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... gold ira

Thank you, I've been seeking

Thank you, I've been seeking for info about this subject matter for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.Motorola MBP36

This is an excellent post I

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post. no strings attached dating

Thanks For sharing this

Thanks For sharing this Superb article.I use this Article to show my assignment in college.it is useful For me Great Work. Drip Followers

I guess I am not the only one

I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the excellent work. followfy

It is genuine, individuals

It is genuine, individuals must figure out how to learn before they can learn. lol i know it sounds entertaining however it genuine. . .read more

I have bookmarked it and I am

I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! sump pump

The application of voltage to

The application of voltage to an electrochrome display produces a change in colour and can be used to represent fill capacities or absolute values (such as voltage spikes), or to display simple characters. moving helpers

how to cure acne naturally.

how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. Home Electronics

Thank you again for all the

Thank you again for all the knowledge you distribute,Good post. I was very interested in the article, it's quite inspiring I should admit. LedConceptsLighting

As a result of checking

As a result of checking through the the net and meeting techniques that were not productive, I was thinking my life was done. søkemotoroptimalisering google

I think that you could do

I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. I will certainly be back. all natural ice pops

I need this article to

I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share. breeyonna anthony

From the tons of comments on

From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the leisure here! Keep up the excellent work. cheap dresses

This is a great inspiring

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information...best hospitals in delhi for cancer treatment

Really great post, Thank you

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! gold ira investing

A very awesome blog post. We

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. walk fit platinum

Actually I read it yesterday

Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written. internet

Actually I read it yesterday

Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written. Analog Baby Monitors

Thanks for sharing the info,

Thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going.... I really enjoyed exploring your site. good resource... 401k rollover to gold

There are such a lot of

There are such a lot of people on Instagram that it could be hard to cut with the sounds. However, if you should obtain far more followers on Instagram,find more info here are a few tested strategies which will acquire you followers rapidly and assist you to enhance your content material to maintain them fascinated.

Thank you for posting such a

Thank you for posting such a great article! Click Here I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts. Keep up the good work!

This article gives the light

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives indepth information. Thanks for this nice article. http://dripfollowers.com

I hope that the custom comes

I hope that the custom comes alive after this..thumbs up for your work. followfy

I think you made some great

I think you made some great focuses in Features additionally. Continue working, incredible occupation! Kidney Failure

I would like to say that this

I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. gas hot water heater

Admiring the time and effort

Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!.. moving help

I am really impressed

I am really impressed by reading this article. In future, you should be giving information about it more. I must have to admire you for this extra ordinary piece of work. kredit mobil Honda

Your post was good and the

Your post was good and the information that you giving your post that was really cool. I like it very much. Thanks for posting this. Please share more information and I will bookmark to my blog 2015 Acura TLX Reviews | http://goo.gl/H0uljl

This is really a amazing

This is really a amazing post. I couldn't have asked for a much better post than this. I am literally very pleased with this and I just hope that I will keep on getting such amazing posts! steam mop reviews | ASUS ZenFone Smartphone Android Terbaik

You're in point of fact a

You're in point of fact a just right webmaster. The website loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you're doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a fantastic activity on this subject! toko online jam tangan swiss army | Modifikasi Motor Bebek

Really great post, Thank you

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! http://goo.gl/jVs9oC

I was very pleased to find

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post jual jam tangan murah | spa khusus wanita di bogor dan salon khusus wanita di bogor

Thank you for sharing This

Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! formal hairstyles | minyak aroma terapi dan jual essential oil

I thought it was going to be

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will locate that extremely useful. Jasa penulis artikel | analisa forex hari ini

I was very pleased to find

I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post room design ideas | desain rumah minimalis