University of Victoria (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2066-2068
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
When international students attend the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria they often find that they need to analyze cases for various business classes. As many of the business cases (sourced from Ivey or Harvard or business text books are written in narrative form, and all the students have English as their second language, subtleties and details important to the case are often overlooked. Students read the case, but they fail to understand the context and the importance of small details due to their unfamiliarity with the business world and the complexities of the English language.

An experiential exercise that helps students understand the case situation and the roles the characters play in the case reinforces the importance of actions and conversations between the characters. Deeper understanding of the case allows students to make better decisions and improves the outcome of their case assignments.

A three step process helps students gain a deeper understanding of the case. First, students read the case on their own. This is assigned at the the beginning of the term, so students have lots of time to read the case (multiple times if they prefer). Next, we discuss the plot (what happens) in class, in a broad sense. The instructor leads the discussion on the overall plot and what decision(s) need to be made. Student participation is encouraged. Posing easy, simple questions encourages students to share their ideas and builds a positive atmosphere for the next step.

In the third part of the exercise, some or all of the students act out key parts of the case in front of the class so everyone can see (using gestures and facial expressions as well as volume, tone and intonation) elements they might miss by reading the case alone. Character motivations and case details including conversations between characters are explored by the instructor acting as narrator and stepping in to ask the audience or a character questions. Acting out parts of the case increases student understanding of the case issues especially subtle details and evidence that is only revealed when tone of voice is considered. Best of all, the result of conducting this exercise is better assignments based on the case. Students are more confident in their assertions, and they have a better grasp of the context in which the character has to work. Fewer students misunderstand case circumstances and use generalizations to make decisions in their case assignments.

In this presentation you will see and hear how students are coached through the acting to make the experience less intimidating and more meaningful to them and to the audience. Sample written assignments based on the case are also available.
International Students, Case Discussions, Role Play.