Monthly Archives: July 2017

The case for undergraduates

Cases participants.jpg

Participants on what teaching excellence should deliver: connection with real life, contextualise theory

We take a lot for granted. In any typical British summer it will rain tomorrow. Our sports team will, in the end, disappoint us. Teaching undergraduates using the case method is just impossible.

And yet the sun does shine, even in the UK. Some sports teams do win. 18% percent of our case distribution is to university teachers teaching undergrads.

Which is why we recently held a one-day event in London at Friends House exploring the use of cases at undergraduate level. The day was hosted by one of our most experienced workshop tutors, Dr Scott Andrews, and we had three wonderful speakers who dismantled three core beliefs taken for granted as reasons not to adopt the case approach in an undergraduate classroom: the case method is not accepted pedagogy; undergraduates are too inexperienced and classes too large to teach other than by lecturing; if I did use cases, I wouldn’t be rewarded.

Professor Mark Schofield is SOLTICE Academic Director and Dean of Learning and Teaching at Edge Hill University. Mark’s presentation outlined his perspective on pedagogy and possibilities for practice, and demonstrated clear and solid links between the case method and leading research into learning styles and student engagement. He saw case-based approaches giving students opportunities to apply and integrate discipline based knowledge and skills in authentic and meaningful ways. For Mark, case studies support and encourage personalisation, engagement and making connections with research and professional practice – key components of university education.


Friends House

Dr Chris Williams is Associate Professor in Management at Durham University Business School, and an experienced case teacher and author. Chris shared his experience of using cases with undergraduate students to cover themes such as classroom management, student motivation, and managing larger groups in working with less experienced students.

Finally, Dr Ben Brabon, Academic Lead for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the UK’s Higher Education Academy, explored the relationship between case-based practice and UK policy agendas around teaching excellence. In other words, how to use teaching with cases as evidence supporting excellence in teaching. Ben established routes leading from case teaching to rewards via national teaching excellence frameworks.

I have to say the day was really successful. The room was full and we had some great feedback from delegates.

I certainly got a lot out of attending and left for home convinced that there is a lot more we can do to support you in your undergraduate case teaching.

Not least through the introduction of our new Undergraduate Case Teaching Licence.

We’d like to run more of these days and are already planning next year’s. If you would like to see a particular aspect of undergraduate teaching covered in next year’s event, please drop me a line via



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