Teaching Tips April 2016

April 2016 Teaching Tip: Case-Based Peer-to-Peer Learning

Tip provided by Professor David Fender, Murray State University

Have you ever had trouble with coming up with good case studies? Case studies can be a good learning tool but they need to be directly applicable for the subject and key points that need to be made. Below is one technique to get students more involved in the subject and to get case studies.

Basic Instructions for Students:

  • Submit a case study of a problem. It is best if the issue/circumstance were something that you have seen or experienced. If you can’t come up with an actual situation, then create a good case study around an important issue. It does not make a difference who was right or wrong in the situation. The instructor will then select some of the submissions to be used in class.
  • The problem should fall into one of the course areas (list these).
  • Give as long a description as necessary to understand the problem, circumstances, and the players.
  • Everyone needs to know that what we talk about here stays here, but we can’t prevent someone from sharing inappropriately. So be careful in writing your case study that you don’t specifically identify the place, company, or any actual names.
  • The instructor will provide a sample case study on the subject of ethics, and you will note that specific organization or names are not included.


This is the first assignment because I use these case studies throughout the course. After receiving I review them for meeting the requirements of the assignment (this is graded) and then group them by subject. Then I select a few appropriate ones, remove names, edit as necessary and use them during the course. I make sure the students know that one of their fellow students submitted and that the issue is very real. At the end of the discussion I ask the individual who wrote the case study to tell us what they did or how it turned out. Some issues can be sensitive so I always ask this individual before class if it will be OK to call on them, if not I will just summarize.

Another way you could use these case studies is to divide class into groups and for each case study have one group come up with questions/issues that this raises and then have a second group come up with recommendations to address the issue and all of this can be discussed by the class. At the end you could have the person experiencing the issue to address what they did or what they think about the recommendations. I have used this technique both in face-to-face and online classes and it has worked well.