You may remember those word problems in arithmetic class in third grade.
“A, B and C were employed at 65 cents per hour to dig a trench. They were each provided a shovel and a pick, and each chose a section of the trench to dig. A worked twice as fast a B. C worked as fast as A for two hours until he drove the pick into his boot and had to be rushed to hospital. A and B finished the entire job in 6 hours. The finsihed trench was 2 feet deep and 2.5 feet wide. How long did it take until A finished his section? Would B have time to help A finish C’s section of the trench? ”
(Where DID Miss Baxter get these problems?)
Case studies are simpler than my extreme example. I am just learning to write them. Here’s one.
“When Robert McPhee died in 1887 the death registration said he was age 77. He was found in the same area in the 1850 census with his age given as 42. His marriage licence was discovered. He married Janet Cruickshank 1835 and claimed he was 27. No birth registration was found. No baptism record turned up. However his name was found on a list of those eligible for jury duty in 1833”
“Which record is most credible as a indirect evidence of Robert McPhee’s birth date? Discuss the credibility of each record mentioned.”
Case studies take some careful thinking in preparation to create the sort of context needed for reinforcing the point you’ve made. A case study like this one could generate 10 or 15 minutes of class discussion and in the end the learners would have a greater grasp of the credibility of the informants who helped create the records consulted. I have found case studies to be great learning tools.
What has been your experience?
Your comments are welcome as always.