Project title: Exploring Case Writing as an Assessment and Teaching Tool in the MBA Classroom

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Leyland Pitt, Beedie School of Business

Leyland Pitt

Project team: Sarah Lord Ferguson and Emily Treen, research assistants

Timeframe: February to August 2018

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • BUS 702 – Marketing Management
  • BUS 709 – Managing Information

Final report: View Leyland Pitt's final report (PDF)

Sarah Lord Ferguson

Description: Cases have long been a prominent part of teaching and learning in the MBA classroom. However, this almost always involves students having to purchase cases from a case publishing organization. For any one class, a student may be required to purchase ten to fifteen cases, costing upwards of $80 or $90. With twenty-two courses required to complete an MBA, cases can become a significant financial burden for students. Despite the associated costs, cases continue to be used as they provide valuable learning experiences and allow students to apply course concepts to real-world situations.  

There are also numerous benefits to be obtained from developing one’s own cases. First, these cases can often address specific local and relevant issues the instructor desires to tackle. Second, it is very useful to have proprietary cases that do not have available teaching notes for use in assessments and examinations. Third, well-written cases can be entered into competitions, often with good prizes, serving as motivation for students.

Acknowledging the invaluable role that case studies play in student learning, this research aims to explore alternative ways that students can use and write cases in the classroom. Instead of only purchasing a case from a publishing company and examining it, our research will also ask students to write cases of their own.

Emily Treen

Questions addressed:

  • What is the student experience of writing a case study?
  • Does the course provide a context in which students are able to write strong cases?
  • What do students learn from doing peer evaluations of one another’s cases?
  • Do students understand what constitutes a strong case and can they evaluate them appropriately?
  • What is the TA’s experience with mentoring students in case writing? Is the workload appropriate or is it too much on top of regular TA duties?
  • What supports do students need to write cases well?

Knowledge sharing:

Ferguson, S. L., Pitt, L., McCarthy, I., & Rousseau, E. (2018, July). Scaling a hobby business: The case of JM Reid Bamboo Rods. Presentation at the 5st Academy of Marketing Conference: Marketing the Brave, Stirling, UK.

Keywords: Case studies; case analysis; case writing; experiential learning; marketing; managing information systems; MBA