Using Case Studies in Management Education : The Student Perspective
Case studies are widely used in management education. Most of the literature discussing the case study method has reflected the perspective of the teacher, implying a teacher-centred view of the case study as a learning strategy. Little is known about the student perspective on case studies. If we are to use the case study method as a component of a student-centred learning experience, then we must know how students perceive case studies, and understand the differences in attitude towards case studies that are found between different groups within the student body. This paper reports on a study of 288 final-year undergraduate students at two UK higher education institutions and is designed to uncover their views about the case study method. All of the respondents were currently enrolled on a strategic marketing or strategic management module on which case studies were used as a key component of the teaching and learning strategy. In general, students believed case studies to be useful as a method of acquiring skills and knowledge. The inherent ambiguity of the complex case study, grounded in business realities, can cause anxiety among some students. There is evidence of marked differences in attitude towards case studies between students with different entry qualifications and with different ethnic backgrounds. Older students are found to have more favourable attitudes to case studies than younger students. These findings have practical implications for the effective use of the case study method. Lecturers using this approach need to be aware of the likely differences of attitude towards case studies of students in their class, and consider these when designing appropriate teaching and learning strategies.