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8 Foolproof Components for Student-Created, Original Case Studies

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Presented by:

Lisa Bergson, Bridgewater State University

Key Statement:

Learn how to empower students and enhance learning, engagement, and participation by asking students to complete their own, original case studies using 8 foolproof components.


Case Studies, Experiential Learning, Instructional Methods


Case studies are effective learning tools that can bridge gaps between theory and practice (Barkley et al., 2005), enhance student learning, and promote critical thinking (Yadav et al, 2007). This poster highlights a twist on the traditional case study approach by presenting eight foolproof components students can utilize to create original case studies. Kolb (2015) suggests that “knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (p. 49). This experiential learning activity encourages greater student engagement, participation, learning and mastery of course concepts as students are empowered to make decisions, increasing their emotional and intellectual engagement (Fede et al., 2018).

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8 Foolproof Components for Student-Created, Original Case StudiesLisa Bergson, Bridgewater State University
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Hi everyone. My name is Lisa Bergson. I am an assistant professor of public relations at Bridgewater State University. This poster showcases an experiential learning activity that I do with my students to empower them and enhance their learning by asking them to research and create their own, original case study. Case studies are effective learning tools that can bridge gaps between theory and practice, according to Barkley et al. ( 2005). They enhance student learning and promote critical thinking, according to Yadav et al., (2007). Instead of giving students case studies to evaluate, I created an experiential learning activity where students choose topics to analyze and develop their own, original case studies. Having students create their own case studies encourages greater student engagement, participation, learning, and mastery of course concept as students are empowered to make decisions, which increases their emotional and intellectual engagement, according to Fede et al. (2018) . I am going to walk you through the components that students, regardless of discipline, should use to create their case study. There are 8 of them as the poster shows. Below each section is a student’s case study that was presented in a PPT presentation during my class. So, let’s start with the first component. Component 1 involves identifying an organization that has experienced a specific phenomenon. In my class, students are identifying an organization that has recently experienced a communication issue, problem, or crisis. Students are then asked to draft a pitch with 4-5 credible sources that identifies the organization, the communication issue, problem or crisis, and the proposed case study in detail, and they tell me how it is relevant to the discipline of Public Relations in my case.

The second component involves an overview of the organization. Students conduct secondary research to provide a comprehensive overview of the organization that provides enough context for someone who may not know anything about the organization to have a firm grasp on who the organization is, what it does, what makes it special and what it stands for. The third component involves listing the leaders of the organization. Their names, titles, and headshots as well as job duties are included in this section. Students explain the role, if any, that these leaders may play in resolving the issue they are exploring. In component 4, students explain the situation they intend to explore in the case study. They explain why the situation poses a risk to the organization and analyze the severity of the risk as well as the implications for the discipline or industry. The Organization’s response to the issue or crisis is the 5 th component. Students conduct secondary research to identify and document the organization’s response to the communication issue, problem, or crisis. How did they respond? This documentation could include internal memos or communication, comments on the organization’s website, posts on the organization’s social media platforms; comments in news stories, and statements by executives on the issue or crisis. Next, students look at the responses of various stakeholders for the 6 th component of the case study. Students look at both internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders include employees, shareholders, and executives. External stakeholders may include the media, customers, the general public, elected officials, and regulatory agencies. Basically, I am asking my students to take a look at all of the stakeholders that are important to the organization to find out how they felt about the issue and the organization’s response to the issue.

The seventh component is a detailed timeline that lists the major events that took place from the start of the issue or crisis until today. Students are asked to create a visual timeline of these events, so they
can show this timeline visually, not just in a written form. The final component of these original case studies includes the discussion and evaluation sections. In the discussion section, students identify and share recent research that is relevant to the issue, problem, or crisis they are exploring. If a student is analyzing a crisis, they will share recent, relevant research on crises and how organization prepare handle and manage crises. They may also talk about how organizations recover from crises and repair their reputations after
crises. Students make connections back to their case study. So, they are always tying the research back to the case study. How is this research important or relevant to the case study they are exploring. In the evaluation section, students analyze how well the organization handled the issue, problem or crisis and suggest ways the organization could have improved its response. Students share major takeaways from the case study and identify 3-4 implications for practice.

Feedback from my students have been very positive on this experiential learning activity. One student said, “I am glad this was a hands-on class rather than just a textbook class.” Another student said, “This class prepared me for conducting research, developing a case study, and working in public relations.” A third student said, “One of the most valuable aspects of this course was the opportunity to work on a semester-long project… broken up into smaller components, which helped me learn as I went along.”

Finally, one student said, “My favorite thing we did in this class was creating our own case study. I enjoyed having the freedom to choose the topic I wanted to cover because I felt like I was able to be more creative and more motivated to complete it.” Basically, students feel that their learning was significantly enhanced by participating in this experiential learning activity, and they appreciated the chance to create their own original case study. I hope you have thought of courses you teach where you could incorporate this learning activity and challenge students to complete their own original case studies.

Thank you for listening.


1- Describe experimental and hands-on teaching in computer architecture
2- Explain the benefits of hands-on learning for a complex topic such as computer architecture.
3- Assess student success and summarize student attitudes and outcomes related to concept-understanding, self-learning, retention and teamwork.

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