Applying Case-Method Instruction in a Pedagogy Class

By Langley, David J.; Senne, Terry et al. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, October 1993 | Go to article overview

Applying Case-Method Instruction in a Pedagogy Class


Langley, David J., Senne, Terry, Rikard, G. Linda, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


The case-method experience lets students examine the decision-making process from a teacher's perspective and later apply this knowledge in practicum and field experiences.

In a recent JOPERD issue, Boyce (1992) outlined the case method as a promising technique to develop problem-solving skills in preservice physical education teachers. In Boyce's approach, a real-life incident from the public schools is presented to preservice teachers in a narrative format and focuses on a problem that requires resolution through active decision making. The course teacher uses a question outline to facilitate the problem-solving process. The class analyzes the situation, presents alternative solutions, and evaluates those alternatives. One goal of this experience is to enable students to examine the decision-making process from a teacher's perspective and to eventually apply this knowledge in practicum and field experiences.

This article describes how the case-method approach was applied in a sophomore level pedagogy class. First, we summarize the sample case, "The Chair." (See Boyce, August 1992, p. 19 for a complete description). Second, we describe the context in which the lesson occurred and examine how the problem-solving process evolved in three different groups of students. Third, we describe the results of written follow-up questions completed by students. The use of follow-up questions adds an extension to the case-method approach presented by Boyce (1992). Finally, we suggest that the number of students in class and the time devoted to problem solving are key considerations underlying the dynamics of the case-method approach.

A Summary of "The Chair"

Ms Allen was a first-year teacher and one of four physical educators at her middle school. Overall, the first year had gone smoothly, even though she was the only teacher who really "taught" physical education. Today's class met on the outdoor fields, and as usual Ms Allen followed the last group of seventh graders as they hurried out of the gymnasium. When she arrived at the fields, she noticed her class gathered around two students, Tom and Jerry, who were dismantling Coach Bowen's chair. The boys looked up and quickly realized that they had been caught in the act by Ms Allen. As the students broke up and got into their squads, Ms Allen called both boys over and briefly but firmly told them she would talk to them after class about the incident.

Tom and Jerry were best friends and were normally well behaved in Ms Allen's class. The chair belonged to Coach Bowen, the overweight department chair, athletic director, and Ms Allen's immediate supervisor. Coach Bowen usually taught from the chair, and Ms Allen knew he would be upset about its present condition. What should Ms Allen do to seek a fair and reasonable solution to the problem?

Teaching the Case-Method Approach

"The Chair" was the focus of a lesson team-taught by three faculty members to a sophomore level pedagogy class of 26 students. During the first 10 minutes of a 75-minute class, students were provided with a copy of the entire case and were asked to read the text carefully. Subsequently, the class was divided into three groups of eight to nine students with each

Comparisons Between Group

Problem-Solving Approaches

We will compare how the problem-solving process evolved within each student group by examining the role of the teacher and the students, the problem-solving process, and the proposed solutions to the problem. The teachers did not discuss among themselves methods for guiding student discussion prior to the actual lesson. Instead, the procedures to facilitate student discussion were planned independently to determine how each teacher's approach influenced the problem-solving process.

Teachers A and B interpreted their roles as one of active involvement and facilitation, while Teacher C preferred to moderate the discussion in a less intrusive manner. …

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