Judging Success

Judging success within the context of the case method can be challenging given the breadth of learning objectives, including knowledge transfer, skills development, and the cultivation of self-awareness, judgment, and the capacity to lead. In the short run, the success of an individual case session can be assessed with respect to the specific objectives pursued for that class. In terms of content, did students demonstrate appropriate progress in the substantive discovery and learning envisioned for the class session? In terms of process, was there a healthy balance between instructor guidance and student initiative? These and other measures of success are described in more detail in "Characteristics of Effective Case Teaching" and "In-Class Assessment of Discussion-Based Teaching".

In the medium term, success can be evaluated across multiple class sessions and the course as a whole. For example, is there evidence that students are able to apply learnings from early sessions to subsequent class discussions, projects, papers, and exams? Do subsequent classes reveal that students are maturing in terms of process, and learning how to learn collectively?

Only in the longer run, sometimes over the course of years, is it possible to judge the success of case teaching and learning with respect to its impact in areas such as leadership and professional identity. The development of self-awareness, judgment, and a capacity to act under uncertainly may receive important foundations in the case classroom. Yet until students move from the classroom into the professional world, it is often difficult to assess whether they have internalized these deeper, personal dimensions of learning and are able to apply them in practice.