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Tips Newsletter – July 2015

Leveraging Case Studies

This Just In!

Congratulations to Monterey County, CA (DSA’s home county)

Monterey County Wins Acheivement Award from NACo for Project Developed in Collaboration with DSA

The County of Monterey won the 2015 Achievement Award for its “Contracts & Purchasing Academy”, a multi-faceted change effort involving new standard operating procedures and a blended learning and certification program. The DSA team is proud to have collaborated with Monterey County on the success of this outstanding project.

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Ever wish you had time to have your learners practice with more than just one case study, but your classroom time is too limited?

How about writing three cases and dividing up the class into 3 groups and assigning a different case study to each group?

The Process

Each of the three groups analyzes a different case study and then, presents their case to the class and their conclusions. In this way, each learner participates and experiences one case study in its entirety and helps present their groups conclusions to the class.


The learners also listen to and take notes on the other groups’ (different) case studies and their conclusions. In this way, the learners benefit from having two additional case study examples.


I used this concept in a one-day workshop designed to help instructional designers (IDs) transition to working on larger, more complex ID projects that required larger teams and different roles than before.

The Workshop

After an introduction to the one-day workshop and a spirited activity on “What Makes an Effective ID Team”, we moved into a problem-centered module called Forming Your Team where I used the multiple case studies approach. The key objective for this module was: Given case studies of a proposed ID project, select the human resources needed to form an effective ID team.

The Module Design

After a brief introduction,  describing a dozen team roles that might be needed on large ID projects, we broke into 3 groups to practice identifying key team member’s roles need for the proposed project.

The trick was that each of the three groups had a different case study. After about 15 minutes each group reported out by reading their case study out loud so the other groups would know about their case situation. Then, that same group reported on the key roles they had selected, the number of people they would put on the project, and the most critical expertise needed for the project. They also gave the rationale for the choices.

So, the participants did one case study themselves as a group and then got to hear how the other two groups dealt with a different case study project.

The benefits of this time saving multiple case studies approach include:

  • Three cases covered in the same time frame as one.
  • Discovering how different cases might be handled.
  • One full practice case study with 2 others as example case studies increasing varied practice (At least vicariously).
  • Increased chance participants will generalize the process/principles of team selection in this case and “transfer the process/principles to their own projects”.
  • More fun and interesting by adding a variety of cases.

BTW, later on in the same workshop I used the multiple case-studies approach again when teaching a module titled “Scheduling For Large ID Projects”. After teaching three scheduling techniques, we provided 3 proposed projects. A different project for each of the three groups was provided and the same strategy was used as above.

Next time you’re trying to increase transfer and time is limited please give the multiple case study approach a try.

Until next time,

Many more ideas and resources are available at the DSA Tips Archive; now searchable, organized by subject area, and by release date.