Case Studies and the *Ah? Ha!* Teachable Moment

Forrest Stegelin
Agricultural and Applied Economics
University of Georgia
Students require objects, events,
or actions for logical reasoning.
Students can reason abstractly
without reference to concrete
objects, events, or actions.
Conservation, class inclusion,
Theoretical, propositional,
ordering, and reversibility are
hypothetical, and combinatorial
characteristic reasoning patterns. reasoning patterns are
Students are unaware of
inconsistencies and mistakes in
Students are aware of
inconsistencies and mistakes due
to the use of mental checks and
balances – reflective thought.
Students need clear, sequential
directions for long and detailed
Students can establish their own
plans for long and detailed
projects if given aims and goals.
Recognize the role(s) a case may play in developing
interaction among students and instructor;
Define and articulate the characteristics of a strong
Apply the seven-step approach in analyzing a case
plus writing a case report;
Communicate the teachable moments and learning
benefits expected from completing a case analysis.
Case studies have proven to be effective pedagogical
tools for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing or
public service education audiences in the curriculum
areas that require problem-solving and decisionmaking skills, statistical analysis, and management
Applicable for a course that is decision- and actionoriented, integrated in both form and pedagogy within a
curriculum, and managerially exciting.
Methodologies of decision and risk analysis, probability
and statistics, competitive analysis, and management
science are integrated with personal judgment, intuition,
and common sense in a way that is meaningful
to student and executive learners alike.
In the case method as a teaching strategy transfers
responsibility for learning from teacher to student,
whose role shifts from passive absorption toward active
Through careful examination and discussion, students
learn to identify actual problems and to articulate them
so as to become aware of those aspects of a situation
that contribute to the problem.
Along the way students develop the power to analyze
and to master a tangled circumstance by identifying
and delineating important factors – the ability to utilize
ideas, to test them against facts, and to throw them
into fresh combinations.
A variety of roles in a course –
focused on understanding core tools and concepts,
on applying methodology appropriately,
on defining the limits of good practice,
on inventing new methods and adapting existing ones for the
problem at hand.
Forms of cases –
◦ highly structured, focusing on a single issue, with needed data
laid out;
◦ appraisal cases where analysis is partly or wholly done;
◦ unstructured, with multiple issues and data challenges (missing
or incomplete data, choices among data, or data preparation
Types of case study –
◦ illustrative case studies (primarily descriptive),
◦ exploratory case studies (pilot or condensed studies
performed before implementing a large scale investigation),
◦ cumulative case studies (serving to aggregate information),
◦ critical instance case studies (examining a situation of
unique interest – answering cause and effect questions).
Relevancy is key, that the resolution of the
situation matters.
Issues of external validity, construct validity, and
reliability need to also be carefully considered.
A strong case demonstrates a need to know
something not currently known – involves practice
of skills and requires some internalization of
concepts and the articulation of the reasoning
Case study approach is a comparatively flexible
method of scientific research because it
emphasizes exploration rather than prescription or
Case study approach gives research results a more
human face.
Inherent subjectivity whereby the approach relies
on personal interpretation of data and inferences;
High investment in time and thinking; and
Ethical considerations, namely the personal
integrity, sensitivity, and possible prejudices
and/or biases of the investigators need to be taken
into consideration.
Read the case thoroughly;
Define the central issue;
Define the firm’s goals;
Identify the constraints of the problem;
Identify all the relevant alternatives;
Select the best alternative; and
Develop an implementation plan.
Should we harvest our Riesling grapes
immediately, before the forecast
rainstorm, or leave them on the vines
despite the approaching storm?
For this case, take 5 – 10 minutes to read the onepage case and take any notes or underscore any
facts thought to be relevant to the problem.
Different wines with different prices arise if harvest
immediately, wait to see if rains and does rain, wait
to see if rains and doesn’t rain so wait for maturity
of grapes.
What should we do with the grapes (harvest or
Revenue = Price x Quantity
Which choice gives highest expected price?
Harvest immediately:
Wait and see:
Wait and see:
Harvest immediately:
bottled wine (100%) - $2.85;
bulk wine (100%) or bulk grapes (100%) - $1.00 equivalent bottle
Wait and see:
storm – botrytised (mold) (40%) - $8.00 or weak and thin
(concentration) (60%) - $2.00
Wait and see:
no storm (wait for maturity) – sugars >25% (35%) [$3.50]; sugars
20-25% (35%) [$3.00]; sugars <20% (10%) [$2.50] or acidity
<0.7% (20%) [$2.50]
Which choice gives highest expected average price?
Consider the probabilities of each occurrence, with
100% total probabilities for each occurrence.
Multiply the expected wholesale price per bottle
times the percentages of occurrence to get
weighted average expected price.
Calculate the expected weighted average price per
750 ml bottle for immediate harvesting versus the
probable outcomes of the 50 – 50 chance of rain.
1.00 equiv.
1.00 equiv.
Harvest Immediately
Bottled (100%)
Bulk Wine (100%)
Bulk Grapes (100%)
Botrytised (40%)
8.00 (30% ↓ yield)
1.00 equiv.
1.00 equiv.
Storm (50%)
Wait & See
Weak/Thin (60%) 2.00
100% wait & see; storms
>25% (35%)
20-25% (35%)
<20% (10%)
No Storm (50%)
(wait for maturity) Acidity
<0.7 (20%)
100% wait & see; maturity
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