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Why Should Case Studies Be Integrated Into The Engineering Technology Curriculum?

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.1162.1 - 6.1162.7

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James Barrott

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

Session 3650

Why Should Cases be Integrated into the Engineering Technology Curriculum?

James L. Barrott Chattanooga State Technical Community College

I. Introduction

The case method of instruction was first introduced in 1870 at the Harvard Law School. In 1908, the Harvard Graduate School of Administration was formed and its curriculum was based on practical case studies. Today, medicine, human behavioral sciences, education, law, business, applied physical sciences, and engineering faculty successfully use the case method of instruction. The movement in engineering case development and classroom teaching has its origins in the 1960’s at Stanford University. The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Rose-Holman Institute of Technology sponsor an engineering case website that has about 350 case studies1. The presence of this website leads one to believe that some engineering and engineering technology faculty members use real-world case studies.

The advantages for integrating cases into any curriculum abound in the literature. These can be generalized into four categories: 1) cases provide students with a link to the real world; 2) cases develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills; 3) cases develop students’ communication skills; and, 4) cases involve students in a cooperative learning activity.

The aim of this paper is to expound upon these four advantages in such a way that an engineering technology faculty member will see the benefits of teaching with cases and then make necessary pedagogical changes to their curriculum so that they can teach cases on a regular basis.

II. Cases Provide Students with a Link to the Real World

Students need “opportunities to link the theoretical constructs developed in the classroom with the practical application in the workforce2.” Perhaps the greatest advantage for using cases is that successful cases focus students on applications in the workforce by solving real world problems. Many graduates of technical programs suffer from their inability to link academics to the workplace. They lack the ability to define and solve open-ended problems that resemble real-world problems3. Cases can be used to bridge the gap between academics and the real world and provide the necessary missing link that is needed between the classroom and the workplace4.

Several methods of bringing real-world experience into the classroom are widely used and accepted by faculty - cooperative education opportunities or internships, guest speakers, teacher experiences, business/industrial site tours, student projects, and cases. The aim of each method

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Barrott, J. (2001, June), Why Should Case Studies Be Integrated Into The Engineering Technology Curriculum? Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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