About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5009-5015
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain

CASE-BASED LEARNING ADAPTATION TO MANAGEMENT COURSES FOR UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING

A. Bernardos, J. Besada, J. Portillo

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
Case-based learning relies on elaborated narratives about events that have happened (or could have happened) in real world. These pieces of information are referred as ‘cases’, and usually pose a question, with no fixed solution, which may be elucidated after considering the context and details of the case (Ellet, 2007). Cases make students work on a problem in two stages: first of all, by personally applying the theoretical knowledge that has been previously provided and, secondly, by sharing their views with other individuals to generate a debate that may enrich the initial discussion. In this process, the instructor (usually referred as ‘facilitator’) is in charge of motivating the case and leading the group towards a reasonable response, while making the students understand the effects of their decisions and finally wrapping up a set of lessons learned. Thus each lecture is an unrepeatable learning experience, as it relies not only on the instructor but also on the students themselves.

This technique has been intensively used in law and business schools since the beginning of the last century and it is also applied in corporate and industrial training (Merseth, 1991). If conveniently adapted, it may be a powerful tool to initiate undergrad students on the analysis of engineering problems. In particular, this technique may be especially useful to motivate and convey the relevance of non-technical courses in engineering: for example, those related to business and project management.

Conceiving a case-based undergrad course imposes some design decisions in the course organization (regarding work time distribution and evaluation), in the materials used (specific cases, usually shorter and narrower than the standard ones are needed) and in the course delivery. Case-based learning implies a work and delivery methodology that is not usually familiar to engineering students. This methodology will probably need to be modified to fit in the general schedule of the global study plan. Thus in this paper, we analyze the key aspects that need to be addressed to migrate a lecture-based course for engineering students to a case-based one, or to create a new course from scratch. As an example, we will analyze how to accomplish the re-design of some management & business-oriented courses currently taught for the degree of ‘Telecommunications Engineer’. We will finally compare the benefits and disadvantages of adopting a complementary or full case-based approach, considering that cases may be used to support a lecture-based course or to drive the course itself.


Ellet, W. (2007). The Case Study Handbook. Harvard Business School Press. Boston, Massachusetts.

Merseth, K. (1991). The early history of case-based instruction: Insights for teacher education today. Journal of Teacher Education, 42 (4), 243-249.
@InProceedings{BERNARDOS2011CAS,
author = {Bernardos, A. and Besada, J. and Portillo, J.},
title = {CASE-BASED LEARNING ADAPTATION TO MANAGEMENT COURSES FOR UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {5009-5015}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Bernardos AU - J. Besada AU - J. Portillo
TI - CASE-BASED LEARNING ADAPTATION TO MANAGEMENT COURSES FOR UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 5009
EP - 5015
ER -
A. Bernardos, J. Besada, J. Portillo (2011) CASE-BASED LEARNING ADAPTATION TO MANAGEMENT COURSES FOR UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 5009-5015.
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