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Implementing "Student Centered" Case Studies

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ET Design Projects

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.633.1 - 7.633.6



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David Myszka

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Session 3147

Implementing “Student-Centered” Case Studies David Myszka University of Dayton


Many fundamental courses in an engineering technology curriculum are primarily concerned with the analysis of simple devices. For the example of an introductory mechanics course, forces and motions of levers and bars are studied. Many instructors believe that the complexities of commercial machinery are beyond the student’s current abilities. Students eventually have the opportunity to study the details of machine components in upper-level courses, once the fundamentals are mastered. However, students in the preparatory courses often struggle to see the relevance of such rudimentary analysis, which often results in fading interest.

To engage the students and explore real-world applications in the fundamental courses, some instructors began using a case study method of instruction. Studies have shown that under proper conditions, this approach can be tremendously successful. This paper investigates having the students, themselves, preparing and using this case study approach. These “student-centered” case studies allow the students to gain a better understanding and demonstrate their analysis skills, along with enhancing their oral communication skills. Most importantly, the case studies bring excitement and enthusiasm to the classroom.


Case studies are stories with an educational message. They are not simply narratives for entertainment, but they are meant to teach. Parables have been used as a teaching tool for centuries. When used effectively in a formal setting, a case study engages the students to examine and dissect a narrative description of an actual situation. Additionally, it challenges the students to analyze the situation and formulate an opinion. In the classroom, the case study approach promotes active learning, team based activities, and the ability to deal with open-ended problems.

Business and law schools have a long tradition of using real or simulated stories, known as cases, to teach students about their field. Christensen4 explains that Harvard University has been the leader in developing cases in these subjects, and has produced faculty who have carried their enthusiasm for that method to other institutions. Mauffette- Leenders, et-al.,7 lists numerous books that have been written about the pedagogy of the case study method. Other disciplines such as medicine, psychology, and teacher's education also have used the method to capture the imagination of students.

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Myszka, D. (2002, June), Implementing "Student Centered" Case Studies Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11218

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