Monday, 10 July 2017

Case Studies, Research Narratives and Story Telling make for compelling Pedagogical Practices!

The human mind wanders a lot, and when it wanders, it daydreams. Nothing can trap a wandering mind better than a story telling session. Case studies are like testimonials that describe how a person has been impacted by a particular topic or project.- Why Case Studies Are Great Marketing Tools: Carlo Thomas, 10/07/2017 A typical case study would be one that traces how a particular student learned about the Renaissance period, or how the other student learned how to build a wind turbine through an expedition. In Maths, Case studies can be prepared for Commercial Maths, Calculus, Linear Programming, Vectors,  and so on.

Why should we use story-telling and case studies in teaching?

Story-telling and case studies can work wonders at the beginning of a lesson. A short story, narrative or even a case study in the form of a short video clip, or an audio clip at the start of a poetry lesson would do wonders. You could show a short video clip on the life of a famous poet before actually analyzing his poems. A lesson on the impact of pollution on Marine Life, could be preceded with a short video clip on how a change in the pH level in the seas impacts coral polyps and plankton species. It does not, however, mean that case studies and stories might be limited only to video and audio-clips. In fact inviting famous personalities to visit the school and  asking them to narrate the story of their life can have a powerful impact on students.
Case studies are unique because they combine story-telling with important facts that might become too boring when presented to an audience. When schools wish to introduce changes in their pedagogical practices, like for example a change in assessment strategies, or perhaps the seating arrangement of students, or perhaps even a shift to  expeditionary learning, it would be good to present a case study before teachers who might otherwise be too skeptical about the benefits of sitting in crews rather than in rows.
Students who record their projects or expeditions can showcase their learning in the form of a video recording the story of their project. This video can be posted on social networking sites like Facebook as a culmination of their project. Case studies and Research narratives are celebrations of learning which project students as leaders of their own learning processes. In a student lead environment, showcasing learning through case studies and research narratives promotes modelling of learning.
Case studies don't always have to be in the form of a video. Case studies could also be in the form of a display of project timelines, processes, and results which can be posted on bulletin boards as printed matter. There could be photographs, info graphics, flow charts printed power-point slides, and descriptions.

What are the components of a Case Study?

It goes without saying that a good Case Study should have  the following components:

1. Title: Every good Case Study should have a sound title. A lot of effort is made to make student understand the relevance of having a sound title for their Research paper. A sound title for a Research paper, or a case study is an indication of clarity of purpose. A sound title provides the reader or the audience with an overview of the project, case study or even the research paper.

2. Problem: The case study should mention the problem that is being analysed very clearly. Understanding the impact of global warming on marine life, or  analyzing universal themes in Romantic poetry could be relevant 'problems' though not all case studies will have problems as such. You could replace the word 'problem' with topic for study.

3.  Solution:  Students who have identified a problem should come up with a solution to it. Using renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind energy and hydro energy might be possible solutions for a power hungry society. The solution would not come into being if the case study was not about problems and solutions. The problem and solution part could become a critical analysis of a trend of writing or a critical analysis of important themes during a particular period in literature.

4.  Results: A Case study dealing with problems should come up with not only the solutions to a problem, but also a presentation of results in a graphic form. Results can be presented in the form pie charts, graphs, bar diagrams and so on.

5. Call for action: This is an important conclusion in a good case study. The presenters of the case study need to make an emotional appeal to their audience to pledge to make a difference after going through the case study. A group of students who made a case study for promoting the culture of cycling in their city made a call for action at the end of their presentation, convincing parents and the administration of that city to create cycle lanes and restrict mortised traffic once a week on Sundays.-Why Case Studies Are Great Marketing Tools: Carlo Thomas, 10/07/2017

Note: It might not be possible to have all the components listed above in all case studies, this is because of the fact that some case studies might be built around a specific problem, and they might even attempt to find a solution for the same. In fact, it should be OK if a particular case study does not offer solutions to a problem. Some case studies might be a narrative about an expeditionary learning trip to Shakespeare's Birth place. As such it might simply be a description about historical facts backed by photographs,video clips, and running commentary about the trip.-Why Case Studies Are Great Marketing Tools: Carlo Thomas, 10/07/2017

Suggested Case Studies

It would be a great idea for the project to be a collaborative effort involving different subject groups. The English Teacher could collaborate with the History teacher to work on a project to understand why the Indus Valley Civilization withered away. Similarly, the IT teacher can collaborate with any of the subject groups to develop graphic organizers, bar graphs, pie-charts, and so on. Students of English in m school have to do a Research Paper or a term paper based on one of the novels in their syllabus. These Research papers are based on the theme, plot movement and character development. These research papers can be made in collaboration with other subjects quite easily.

Reference: (Ironically enough, this blog post was prompted by the article on marketing that I read recently.

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