The Continuous Case Study: Designing a Unique Assessment of Student Learning

Matthew Grimes
Radford University

The case study approach is one form of problem-based learning (PBL) that results in deeper understanding of content, and it involves pushing students to think beyond the answers appropriate for class (Hmelo-Silver, 2004; Nilson, 2010, 2013). Case studies prompt students to consider the realistic implications of how they use course content in realistic scenarios that are relevant to their future practice. According to Nilson (2010), continuous case studies are one form of case-based learning that often leads to a uniquely deeper learning experience for students. This paper describes the design of a continuous case study assignment for use in the classroom—as an interactive lecture or independent assignment—and as a data collection tool. Continuous case studies are useful at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and are highly adaptable across disciplines. The focuses of this paper are a) to define and describe the continuous case study, including the evidence-driven design process, and b) to offer practical examples of how to implement the design for classroom or scholarly use.

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