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STLCC’s Babbitt Attends Case Method Seminar Hosted by Harvard Business Publishing

November 08, 2013

Donna Babbitt  
Donna Babbitt

Donna Babbitt, chair of business administration at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood, recently attended the Case Method Teaching Seminar Part II sponsored by Harvard Business Publishing.

The case method is a form of instructor-guided, discussion-based learning that requires students and faculty to work closely together to exchange ideas. Students are presented with real-world scenarios and are guided by the instructor through discussion and debate to make decisions about the case using analytical frameworks and their own insights.

According to Harvard Business School, “the case method represents a shift from the traditional, instructor-centered model of education to a participant-centered one in which students play a lead role in their own and each other’s learning. The case method instructor must be well-prepared for both the content associated with each class session and the process for guiding the participant-centered learning experience.”

Babbitt first started using the case method about nine years ago after attending a seminar on using case method to teach entrepreneurship at Babson College and then Harvard Business Publishing’s Case Method Teaching Seminar Part I. The methodology is most typically used in higher level business courses and graduate schools, but Babbitt thought she could use a modified version in the accounting classes she teaches at Wildwood.

“Usually, professors who use the case method will go through a case each class. I use about four case studies a semester,” she said. “It’s very different for students, but I felt it was important to expose students to the methodology being used at elite colleges and universities. It encourages communication, helps students develop critical thinking and reading skills and allows them to learn how to interact effectively with a group.

“We’ve had students go on to the University of Missouri-St. Louis who come back and say they are congratulated by their professors on how well they are prepared to handle the case method,” Babbitt added. “Students sometimes get so engaged that they have gone on the Internet to try to find out the actual names of the companies in the cases. Once the students are used to taking ownership and leadership in class, they don’t care for lecture classes as much.”

Babbitt was one of two of the seminar participants who had the opportunity to present and teach a case. She also had the opportunity to meet William Ellet, author of “The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss and Write Persuasively about Cases,” one of the texts that she incorporates into her classes.

Attendees included 34 professors from some of the most well-known business programs in the world, including West Virginia University, Copenhagen School of Business, London Business School, California State University-Sacramento and Georgetown University.