How to do a case study

What do we understand by the term ‘Case Study’?  It is nothing but a way to put together a situation or an analysis. This could involve decision making or problem solving or making deductions or even seeking solutions. Often it could be a real situation that needs to be described.

Using Case Method as a Tool to learn

The case method of analysis happens to be a tool by which students can learn interactively. In this case, the student as well as the professor or instructors takes an  active part in case discussion. This is where this method differs from the method of lecturing where mostly only the professor or teacher leads the speech and on the other side the students are expected to sit and hear him out. They are also meant to write down in points whatever they hear him speak. The approach in the case method is that in case you are the student, for instance, you would actually be teaching yourself!  Your professor or leader/instructor would of course be actively present. But this time he will not just keep delivering the material on his own. This approach employs a collaborative effort from both parties involved.

So as the student you will have to work on a ‘case’ that would be allotted to you.  You have to be careful how you prepare this because this will form the very basis for your discussion in class along the path your instructor shows. You will realize that when you work on this purely on your own, you will develop the ability to learn the matter. You will also be able to gradually assess the problem, be able to arrive at suitable decisions and even be able to make your point in a debate over the subject concerned.  It will be essential for you to get a good hang of the right ways to approach the subject of case studies and finishing them successfully.

How to do a Case Study

Now coming to the actual task at hand:  There is no exact way of going about approaching a case study. That being said, you must follow certain steps that are normally recommended.  These enable you to be able to handle the job more effectively.  Your instructors who change from time to time would each have their own styles and techniques. This might result in you having to do the job differently or take a few notes from them. While doing things differently might confuse you at times, it ultimately works to your advantage in the end by teaching you versatile methods of arriving at right decisions.

Typically what happens is that you are likely to receive the case study a week beforehand. Along with this, you will also be given some kind of a questionnaire to fill out  and finally at times you may even get some supplemental reading material that will prepare you to understand issues relevant to the domain you have been allotted. Once you have these components, you need to figure out how you plan to prepare in advance of the discussion in class. Ensure you have browsed the reading assignments well using both the Short Cycle Process as well as the Long Cycle Process to get familiar with the case and to also make a brief analysis of the case.  After you finish writing the case and making the due notes, you then need to see what occurs during the class discussion of that case. Make sure you pay close attention to what is being discussed and make your notes accordingly.   At the end of the exercise you have to evaluate what might be necessary post the class discussion. In this you should do a detailed review and make notes on how the case best falls into the course.