Prepared by Mary Thompson-Jones, Ed.D., based on faculty testimonials
The Consulting & Problem-Solving Case Writing Competition energized faculty from multiple disciplines by offering a seminar on case methodologies targeting many skills students seek to develop – writing, applied research, analysis, and ability to connect with industry. These competencies cut across nearly all graduate programs, and methods to help develop them are a constant topic among faculty. Involving industry professionals as case judges, and judges’ engagement to the cases, developed by our students, became a validation of the competition’s relevance to market needs.
Faculty members eagerly seized the opportunity inherent in the Consulting & Problem-Solving Case Writing Competition, not only by encouraging their students to participate, but by educating themselves through the faculty workshop, led by professors Julia Ivy and Joan Winn, which became an essential part of the learning process. The seminar met a clear need, but its greatest success was in spawning a wider discussion about how to build faculty competencies in this area and how to institutionalize problem-solving cases.
One faculty member stated that although her program offers a case study course, she had no context for the course and noted confusion about the term, case study, and appreciated the opportunity to bring faculty and students on the same page. “I don’t think anyone has given it much thought, or has been concerned about uniformity across the college in terms of what a Case Study course should consist of. In fact, understanding what we mean when we say ‘case study’ is a useful exercise in and of itself. I suspect students are also confused about what it means and what will be required of them. Your seminar was an extremely useful first.”
Another praised the way the Consulting Case Writing Competition and the faculty workship helped build faculty expertise. “Many of us in the room were neophytes at judging and a more solid background in what is a good case would help us to help the students. There were also questions such as does a case study have to go to IRB and if not, why; what are the usual pitfalls for beginners that we can address to bring the student along more easily; and having a time to talk about the evaluation form itself.”
Another faculty member noted the need to build on the workshop to think about what to do next to strengthen the value and practice of applied research at the college. She advised, “Integrate applied research into more of the classroom practice even if it means learning how to begin with short vignettes, building partnerships with companies, finding alums who can open doors so that we become a cadre of consultants.”
Still another faculty member linked the workshop content to courses beyond the Consulting Case Writing Competition. “I love the whole concept and was fascinated by Julia’s style and expertise. This kind of a workshop is a terrific way to think about how else to teach, what are ways to develop critical thinking, and frankly, what kind of writing I should be doing.”
The workshop inspired faculty to think about using the Consulting Case Writing Competition for their own work as well. “Frankly, there should be a session devoted entirely to faculty to help us jumpstart case writing. Our collegee is missing a terrific opportunity in that we have so many categories of cases we could be writing and publishing from content such as project management to dealing with adult, distance students.”
As a true measure of the BE-EDGE’s success, faculty seized upon this initial effort with useful suggestions on furthering the process – an essential part of bringing everyone on board. “The information provided was very clear and focused. It’s very exciting and I hope it continues to grow in size and involvement because it will add incredible value.”
Finally, “Since you have gone to the considerable trouble of breaking the ice, it makes sense to continue to focus on case studies. I think we could go into more depth. It would be nice to form a cadre of dedicated faculty who develop expertise in this area. The next step might be designing a publication for the best student case studies, and perhaps organizing a student conference around this idea. Maybe this is an area in which CPS could strive for real excellence.”