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Using Case Studies to Connect with the Adult Learner in UG and GR Public Administration Programs
Unformatted Document Text:  Using Case Studies student also becomes aware of public service issues. The hope is that the students will become practitioners that are sensitive to the people and the variety of cultures they serve. Overview, Objectives and Case Methodology The case method is a proven effective pedagogical technique in the training of professionals, with a history stretching back to the ancient Greeks and the so-called Socratic method (Lynn, 1999) For example, medical schools, law schools and schools of social work and business all use teaching cases as an important component in the training of doctors, lawyers, social workers, and business executives. Public administration is no exception; two notable examples include Harvard’s Kennedy School, which maintains a large number of teaching cases, and more recently, the University of Washington’s Electronic Hallway, which provides an on-line database. While the case method is quite familiar to public administration programs, our innovative model uses student-written cases instead of the more traditional case studies based on important historical events written by academics. The appeal of using student-written cases to train professionals is easy to understand. The cases provide an ideal vehicle for students to personally apply the theories taught in the classroom to the solution of real organizational problems. There are several ways in which this happens. First, writing cases forces students to reflect on the ways work experience improves professional practice. Students do more than react to a work situation. Instead they take stand back and integrate concepts, analyze the situation, identify stake holders and hone their problem solving skills. Students use these important skills initially in the case-writing process. They develop more skills as they consider the ways their case can be used as a learning tool. They develop oral communication skills as they present their case to others. They develop team work and 6

Authors: Sussman, Stephen.
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Using Case Studies
student also becomes aware of public service issues. The hope is that the students will become
practitioners that are sensitive to the people and the variety of cultures they serve.
Overview, Objectives and Case Methodology
The case method is a proven effective pedagogical technique in the training of professionals,
with a history stretching back to the ancient Greeks and the so-called Socratic method (Lynn,
1999) For example, medical schools, law schools and schools of social work and business all use
teaching cases as an important component in the training of doctors, lawyers, social workers, and
business executives. Public administration is no exception; two notable examples include
Harvard’s Kennedy School, which maintains a large number of teaching cases, and more
recently, the University of Washington’s Electronic Hallway, which provides an on-line
database. While the case method is quite familiar to public administration programs, our
innovative model uses student-written cases instead of the more traditional case studies based on
important historical events written by academics.
The appeal of using student-written cases to train professionals is easy to understand. The cases
provide an ideal vehicle for students to personally apply the theories taught in the classroom to
the solution of real organizational problems. There are several ways in which this happens. First,
writing cases forces students to reflect on the ways work experience improves professional
practice. Students do more than react to a work situation. Instead they take stand back and
integrate concepts, analyze the situation, identify stake holders and hone their problem solving
skills. Students use these important skills initially in the case-writing process. They develop
more skills as they consider the ways their case can be used as a learning tool. They develop oral
communication skills as they present their case to others. They develop team work and
6


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