Cases in  
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Lee Shulman discusses the purposes of using cases in the course.  Click image to view movie.

Linda Darling-Hammond discusses how cases can help students link theory and practice. Click image to view movie.

What is a case?

    Cases are not simply stories that a teacher might tell. They are crafted into compelling narratives, with a beginning, middle and end, and situated in an event or series of events that unfold over time. They must have a plot that is problem-focused with some dramatic tension that must be relieved. They are embedded with many problems that can be framed and analyzed from various perspectives, and they include the thoughts and feelings of the teacher-writers as they describe the accounts. Some case writers describe problems that remain unresolved and end their stories with a series of questions about what to do. Others include solutions that may or may not have worked. They all include reflective comments about their accounts that examine what they have learned from their experience and/or what they may do diferently in another similar situation.  --Shulman, J. (1991) Revealing the mysteries of teacher-written cases: Opening the black box. Journal of Teacher Education, 42 (4), pp. 250-262.

From writing cases in our course, we hoped students would learn:

  • To take a "step back" and reflect on their practice;
  • To forge stronger connections between theory and practice;
  • To gain a deeper appreciation of their own students' learning;
  • To see that multiple interpretations of their experiences can exist; and
  • To appreciate the value of analyzing their teaching and their students' learning with their peers.  


Further references on the use of cases in teacher education.

Copyright 2000, Karen Hammerness, Stanford University. All the material contained on this site has been produced by Karen Hammerness, Lee Shulman, Linda Darling-Hammond, Kay Moffett, and Misty Sato. These materials can be downloaded, printed and used with proper acknowledgement, including the name and affiliation of the authors and the web-site addess.

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