The Living Case: Searching for a Deeper Structure in the Case Analysis Process
36 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2008
Date Written: March 1991
One of the primary methods of instruction in business disciplines is the case. However, in its currentform of written presentation, some of the basic learning goals associated with case instruction arecompromised. We have used new forms of media involving computing and communication to build anovel learning environment, the Living Case, which flexibly and interactively presents cases along withprovide dynamic, on-going feedback to students analyzing a case. In our research we have formalizedthe process of analyzing a case in order to recognize and interpret student analysis behavior so thatprovide relevant assistance can be provided. Case analysis is characterized as a problem solving activitydriven by comprehension and reasoning operators. A search for these operators led us to build aninventory of reading activities. Twelve hours of protocols are analyzed using "retelling profiles" as aninterpretation mechanism. Retelling profiles are visual time plots of the activities undertaken in a readingtask. Our preliminary results suggest a deeper structure to case analysis which is common acrossbusiness disciplines, cases, and individuals. Differences between the analysis strategies of experts andnovices are also formalized. Finally, an expert's analogical reasoning strategy using task-specificknowledge encoded as "templates" is identified as a major contributor to their efficiency in solving cases.Templates of typical company situations and responses are triggered early in the analysis process, andsubsequent data gathering and reasoning is directed by an attempt to apply the template to the casesituation.
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