A post from the Director of the Learning and Teaching Office:
Renewing my teaching is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of my job. I get very tied to the ways I do things, but every once in a while I am motivated to change. Usually it is in response to an observation by a student, or I when I notice that my students could do better if I approached the material in a different way.
One of the good parts about directing the LTO is that I get to try lots of new things that I can later implement in my class. Unlike my students, when faculty want more of something they just say so. I have learned that faculty, much like my students, prefer activities that connect them to the material being presented. Over the last three years that I have worked with the LTO, I have learned some new techniques that I think really make a difference to students. These techniques are in applied learning in the classroom.
One technique that I am enthusiastic about is case learning. In this method, the instructor introduces a case from the real world that will assist students in applying a theory that has been taught in class. The cases can be pre-packaged (the library has some available) or, as in my teaching, they can be created by the professor. The case is given to students alone or in groups. Students are then provided with a series of questions and challenges to overcome as they discover a solution to the case.
My experience using this method is that the students participate, enjoy, and apply what they have learned in class. I have been asked a lot about case method and often respond “if you do a case in class, you will think it is one of the best teaching days you have ever had.” That was my experience and the experience of many instructors who have come to our workshops on case learning.
Whether you try case learning in class or other new techniques, let us know how they work out. Your experiences can help other faculty. Remember that the LTO exists to assist you.