Thursday, 6 November 2014

Preparing Business Students for Postsecondary Case-Based Learning

One of the preferred teaching methods in postsecondary Business programs is to have students work in teams to analyze past business scenarios through case-based learning. In order to better prepare them for the challenges of case-based learning, all senior Business students at Greenwood participate in a school-wide case competition in April. Teacher Justine Lucas describes how this process works.

The Players
Each Grade 12 Business course participates in the competition. Classes include Accounting, Business Leadership, Economics and International Business.

Preparation
In each Business course, teachers walk students though the Greenwood case attack method (similar to methods used in top Business programs) and have them complete 4-6 cases with increasing degrees of difficulty throughout the year. As students work through each case, teachers observe team dynamics, the degree of preparation and the creativity of the students' solutions. When working through the preliminary cases, students receive verbal and written feedback on their case process, their ability to work in teams and their presentation skills. As they get more comfortable with case analysis, students are formally evaluated on both the process and presentation of their analysis.

The Competition
The ultimate challenge comes on competition day. Students are stretched by these postsecondary level cases and by needing to work together to analyze them effectively and in a timely manner.

Students are given the case the night before to read and prepare for the next day. Teams are comprised of a mix of students from each of the business disciplines and announced the morning of the competition. Mixing up the teams allows students to make cross-curricular connections and show leadership in their area of expertise. Students spend the morning working with their new teammates to define their problem statement, develop alternatives and agree on the best solution. There is a quick break for lunch and then the teams are back at it, busy putting together and practicing their final presentations. The final piece of the competition involves each team presenting their ideas to a panel of judges made up of Business teachers and professionals. The teams have ten minutes for delivery and a question period from the judges.

Evaluation
The case competition is evaluated as a major assessment in each class. Students are evaluated individually on their contribution to the team, based on the role they play in the case team, as well as their presentation skills. A group mark is also assigned based on team cohesiveness, case analysis and presentation.

Many students see the case competition as a highlight of the senior Business curriculum. Amit Nofech-Mozes, a recent Greenwood graduate and winner of the 2014 case competition, remarked that "the case competition is a good representation of what a university student will have to do on a weekly basis in a Business program...It helped prepare me for the analysis and dynamics of working in a team."

Stay tuned for details of the 4th Annual Greenwood College School Case Competition, being held in April 2015.

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