Different teaching methods offer different benefits for students. Many courses offer a variety of methods such as textbook readings, lab work, essays or exams. Some courses may also involve case-based learning, which is focused on experiential learning, taking students through real-world scenarios and guided discussions.
What is experiential learning?
Experiential learning (EXL) is the process of learning by doing, and then reflecting on the experience. This goes far beyond “hands-on learning”. First, EXL attempts to create an experience of challenge. Second, because the learning doesn’t stop when the task is complete, students are guided to deliberately observe and reflect on what they have experienced. Reflection is essential to achieving positive results. Repeated experiences help students build abstract concepts and theories about what is effective. Finally, armed with this insight, students have the opportunity to apply their learning to the life they live. Each new experience continues this cycle of learning.
What is case-based learning?
Case-based learning follows this process exactly. Written cases are tangible examples of real problems faced by real people in real organizations. They are they closest possible representation of an actual problem to solve or decision to make. Students read the case, examine the possibilities with their peers, and debate the alternatives and recommendations in a spirit of exploration. Repeated case challenges help students master problem-solving techniques, and reflection at the end of a class or course help students consolidate their learning. As a result, students are able to apply these problem-solving and decision-making skills in co-op work environments, assignments in service to community organizations or other project assignments. In effect, case-based experiential learning is the closest thing to learning about real businesses without leaving the classroom.
Fanshawe’s Lawrence Kinlin School of Business has recently launched a case repository called In Perspective. In Perspective fuels case-based experiential learning by providing current, relevant and academically sound cases for instructors who teach with cases. Cases are carefully written and edited to be readable, interesting and focused on the practical problems of organizations. For more information, visit kinlincases.ca.
Submitted by James Todd
Professor - Lawrence Kinlin School of Business