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Impacting student learning using a living case study

Robert Grassberger (Organization, Information, and Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)
Sue Wilder (Organization, Information, and Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of using a living case study method to teach graduate students in an organizational development (OD) course. A living case is defined as one where participants study a current, ongoing situation over the entire semester. Students worked with an authentic client to solve an authentic problem. After the course concluded interviews were conducted. Learners expressed a sense of feeling more connected and engaged with the course content because of the living case. Students also exhibited significant learning – new skills and mindsets developed during the course that are valued and used in their work, school, and personal lives.

Design/methodology/approach

This is an instrumental case study of a work-based instructional design used to improve student engagement and learning outcomes.

Findings

Students worked with an authentic client to solve an authentic problem. Learners expressed a sense of feeling more connected and engaged with the course content because of the living case. Students also exhibited significant learning – new skills and mindsets developed during the course that are valued and used in their work, school, and personal lives.

Practical implications

Higher education (HE) instructors are expected to teach students knowledge and skills that will be valuable at work and in life after graduation. Using a living case allows students to extract learning directly from the work experience. By using the concepts and the tools in an authentic, living case, students gain experience and concrete knowledge.

Originality/value

This study extends past research on connecting classroom learning and work experience. It looks at how a course designed using a living case study can be used to improve learner engagement and create longer term value for students.

Keywords

Citation

Grassberger, R. and Wilder, S. (2015), "Impacting student learning using a living case study", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 369-382. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-05-2015-0030

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited