Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 10:40 AM

Opportunities and Obstacles in Developing International Decision Case Studies.

John Graveel and James Vorst. Purdue University, Department of Agronomy, 915 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054

The case study method of instruction has many advantages over traditional instructor directed lecture format. The increased focus on internationalizing our student's collaborative development of decision cases on an international scale appears to have instructional merit. Purdue University, in collaboration with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), cooperated in the design and preparation of environmental case studies in natural resource management. Developing these cases required attention to social, legal, economic, cultural, political, and ethical aspects, as well as to scientific and technical components. Benefits obtained from this joint venture included: 1) Exposing faculty to innovative teaching techniques, 2) Encouraging team building and peer interaction as the students worked together on these case studies, 3) Allowing students to delve into issues on an international scale that they would not have been otherwise able to do, and 4) Developing linkage and sharing expertise and pedagogical interests with international educators for potential future collaboration. Obstacles included: 1) Differences in cultures and educational protocols require flexibility in the development process. Educators from other cultures frequently follow an instructor directed approach and are uneasy about giving students the latitude to use decision cases, 2) Collaboration and face-to-face meetings with other development team members may be expensive, 3) Clearly delineated expectations and deadlines must be developed and adhered to, and leadership of the project must be established at the beginning, 4) Not all team members may be at the same level of competence in using the case method of instruction, and initial training may be needed in writing cases, and 5) Cases must be developed so they can be used by students from diverse cultures. This paper will review the many opportunities and obstacles to case development with international partners.