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What is a Teaching Case?


    Teaching cases as distinguished from case studies, are narrative about the universal challenges inherent in the "real world" of classrooms, teaching, and schools.  The context of teaching cases provides rich social, political, and ethical dilemmas for preservice and inservice teachers to deliberate.   Case studies differ in that they provide a method of looking at, assessing, or researching a subject or situation.  Teaching cases, on the other hand, capture experiences from actual classrooms complete with the complex and multilayered problems that teachers face every day.  The teaching case does not provide the method of looking at, assessing, or researching but rather requires the reader to develop his or her own way to look at and solve the problems inherent in the case.  When the case is discussed (such as in a teacher preparation course), different perspectives are shared, theory is connected to practice, reflective and problem solving skills are developed and the participants are challenged to take responsibility for their own learning.

    Case-based instruction using teaching cases has generated much national interest and advocacy in the past ten years.  The Carnegie Report, A Nation Prepared:  Teachers for the 21st Century called for teacher training institutions to use "cases illustrating a great variety of teaching problems" as a "major focus of instruction."  The fields of business, law, and medicine have used case-based instruction successfully for several decades.  The field of education is now joining them in the use of this powerful tool for instruction.  The main roadblock to the widespread use of case-based instruction (using teaching cases) in teacher education programs has been the lack of teaching cases available for use.  That is why we think this project is so important.



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