Case based learning: Preparing adult learners to become thoughtful leaders
Critically important to changing and enhancing instructional methodology in higher education is the commitment of the instructor toward instructional change in order to prepare adult learners to become thoughtful leaders. This article discusses the use of case based learning in the online learning environment as a way to better prepare future educational leaders.
The desired outcome of case based learning is to engage adult learners in applying research based leadership theories to real-life decision making by modeling the critical importance of individual thought, peer discussions, and knowledge construction. Implementation of case based learning in an online adult learning environment bridges the gap for leaders between theoretical knowledge and real-life work situations. Case based learning is supported by theorists in adult learning, constructivism, and storytelling / narrative. This instructional methodology encourages adult learners to read, analyze, discuss, confer, and arrive at decisions and chosen courses of action in response to the cases presented. A replicable process is discussed in which case based learning is predicated upon expertly trained instructors who write cases and evaluate students’ responses to the cases. Students individually read assigned cases and look for underlying theories and skills that are integrated within cases. Next, students create small collegial groups of three to five students to discuss their individually prepared thoughts on the case. Finally, during online discussion, the instructor facilitates learning by asking probing and guiding questions, inserting critical theory and information, monitoring student participation, and challenging the class to synthesize their learning to arrive at a thoughtful decision.
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