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Web Enabled Case Studies: Enhancing Student Learning

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Exploring New Frontiers in Manufacturing Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1415.1 - 9.1415.12



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Paper Authors

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Diane Schuch Miller

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Donald Falkenburg

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1163

Strategies for Creating Web-based Engineering Case Studies Donald R. Falkenburg, Diane Schuch Miller Wayne State University


Linking academic learning with real-world experiences motivates students and significantly impacts depth of learning. The Greenfield Coalition is developing and deploying case studies to support its programs in manufacturing engineering and technology. This paper describes the Greenfield case methodology, and presents a four-step design process used to author an engineering case.

Integrating Learning

Most engineering problems are not like the problems at the end of a textbook chapter. They imbed often-conflicting technical needs and issues. The engineer must be able to assess a situation, pose a problem, develop a solution and effect change. Yet, aside from a capstone experience at the end of the curriculum, few students are prepared to apply learning beyond the way it is covered in the lecture or presented in the textbook. They are uncomfortable solving problems that are not well structured and require the integration of multiple concepts to craft a solution. They have little experience with either under-constrained or over-constrained problems. Unfortunately, this traditional approach to teaching and learning in engineering does not effectively encourage knowledge and skills transfer to other contexts. As a result, students are not exposed to, or required to use higher levels of thinking for many years while attending college, even though engineering problems almost always require this approach [1]. The linked issues of compartmentalized learning and our inability to bridge the educational experience to real world engineering problems are major problems with current engineering curricula.

The Value of Case Studies

Case studies have revolutionized teaching within both the business and medical communities. The case methodology is a framework to embed learning in an environment that is as close to the real world as possible. It challenges learners to explore resources, make assumptions, and construct solutions. Case studies are also ideal for illustrating complex concepts, especially common in engineering. Horton [2] suggests the use of case studies as an excellent way for learners to practice judgment skills necessary in real life situations that are not as simple as textbook problems. As instructional strategies are concerned, engaging critical thinking skills through case studies is among a recommended set of activities [3].

Case studies can also be used to introduce students to the complex interactions among technology, business, and ethics. The Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Engineering Education (LITEE) at Auburn University has produced a number of case studies. One of these describes a turbine-generator unit in a power plant vibrating heavily and shaking the building.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Schuch Miller, D., & Falkenburg, D. (2004, June), Web Enabled Case Studies: Enhancing Student Learning Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13723

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015