12 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008
This note describes the characteristics of good case-method teaching notes.
When preparing to teach a case, you make notes, draft an outline, do your analysis, anticipate questions, plan how your boards will unfold, and a variety of other things. For a new case, this can take as much as eight to 10 hours. As you teach each case, you will find that some of your plans “worked” (in a learning sense) while others did not: some questions stimulated discussion; others became obstacles to learning rather than facilitators; one sequencing of class segments flowed well and another didn't. So, after each class, you modify your teaching notes and outline. You make notes to yourself for next year and put them in the file. Over the course of time, as you rethink and re-prepare each class, you develop a set of notes and hints for your repertoire of cases that will improve your classes and greatly shorten future preparation time. This collection of teaching ideas and heuristic methods (a set for each case) comprises a set of teaching notes.
If you are using cases others have written, you will be interested in whether or not there is a teaching note for those cases. If so, they can be a real help. If you are interested in other people using cases you have written or taught, you may assemble your teaching ideas into a typed teaching note that you can distribute to others. Many Darden and Harvard cases have such teaching notes. Teaching notes don't provide the only way to teach a case, or even the best way, but they do give you ideas about how other people have taught the case and what worked for them. Teaching notes often contain tips, supplemental anecdotes or data, a fairly rigorous analysis, and often, an epilogue.
This note outlines some things to remember as you draft teaching notes for your cases or as you develop teaching notes for cases you are teaching that have been written by others.
Bill Rotch, a professor at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, has written a working paper that compares case writing to art and points out the value of good teaching notes:
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Keywords: case method
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