Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 9:30 AM

A Case for Case Study.

Steve R. Simmons, Univ of Minnesota, 411 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, MN 55108

Case study education has a long-standing tradition in the United States within disciplines such as business, law and medicine. In agriculture and natural resources, the use of case studies as an educational approach is more recent, but has grown substantially over the past twenty years. Since 1992, nearly fifty cases have been published by the American Society of Agronomy's Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education. Just as the number of cases and the topics considered has grown, the diversity of types of cases has also expanded. The types of cases considered within this symposium include decision cases, simulations and scenarios, technology-enhanced cases, and field-based/on-site case studies. Whichever type of case is used, all share common qualities of fostering inductive learning (from specific to general) and enhancing relevance of abstract concepts for learners. Cases can also enhance the motivation to learn for students with a wide array of learning style preferences. This paper reviews the development of case education within agriculture and the natural resources while examining the attributes of cases within the context of learning theory. Specific cases from the literature will be cited as examples. Finally, the paper reviews several “cutting edge” trends in case-based education while framing the topics to be addressed within this symposium.