Transitions provide the connective tissue that links individual discussion segments ("pastures") together to create a coherent whole. They are typically used by the instructor to provide intermediate closure and frame the subsequent discussion pasture. The length of the transition may vary significantly depending on instructor style, the inherent logic of the discussion flow, and the duration, complexity, and degree of consensus achieved in the preceding discussion segment. In crafting the transition, the instructor must balance the benefits of intermediate reflection and expectations-setting against the costs of reduced student discovery and classroom energy.

Case Method instructors often signal an upcoming transition in advance to avoid either:

  • An abrupt shift in the discussion flow
  • A shift so seamless that students are unaware that the discussion has moved on

Signaling a transition can be done:

  • Verbally: "Let's take one more comment before moving on" or "Let's step back for a moment and reflect on what we've done"
  • Non-verbally: raising a board or physically moving to the center of the room

Transitions are often preceded by two types of questions: (i) comprehension checks that invite questions or final thoughts, or (ii) framing questions that link the current pasture to the new one.

  • "Have we missed anything important?"
  • "Any final comments before we move on?"
  • "Before we get into [x], are there any more questions?"
  • "Is everyone comfortable moving onto [...]?"

Providing Synthesis and Intermediate Closure
Using a summary of the previous discussion points and themes as part of a transition serves as an effective connection between pastures. The transition can look both backward and forward by:

  • Highlighting any questions or puzzles that have been identified
  • Referencing specific student comments to synthesize the previous discussion
  • Returning to students who may have brought up relevant or opposing ideas to start the next pasture discussion
    • "Now that we’ve established [x], what about [y]?"
    • "In light of our discussion of [x], what should we do about [y]?"
    • "What are the implications of [x]?"
    • "So we're clear on [x] - shall we move on to [y]?"
    • "Before getting into the numbers/details, how do we think about how we should approach the analysis?"

The boards may play an important role in transitions. An instructor can use them to:

  • Synthesize concepts already discussed
  • Highlight concepts or analyses that need to be expanded upon in the coming pasture
  • Illustrate missing areas of analysis

Framing a New Pasture

Once the discussion of the previous pasture is completed, it is important to set up the next segment. The transition may incorporate many of the same elements as the opening:

  • Remind students of case context
  • Address whether the timeline has advanced or new information became available
  • Pose a connecting puzzle or question that links the two pastures

When using mini-summaries as part of a transition, experienced instructors often reference comments made by students during the preceding discussion pasture. This approach helps ground the transition in the participants' own contributions and resonates more powerfully with students than a pre-scripted summary prepared in advance by the instructor.

Signaling a Transition

Professor Garvin explains three techniques that signal “we are done and it's time to move on.”

Using Summaries To Transition

Professor Garvin uses "running summaries" to wrap up individual segments within a discussion.


Ashish Nanda
Professor Nanda explains how he uses comments from his students to segue from one topic to another, while noting that sometimes it's appropriate not to veer away from a topic.