Executive Summary

Case‐based learning (CBL) is a learner‐centred educational method for students to meet defined learning outcomes, with a long history in health professional, law and business education, yet it has attracted very little rigorous in‐depth evaluation. A review of CBL in business education found little empirical research of its impact and learning processes (Burgoyne & Mumford, 2001). The Queen’s University Centre for Teaching and Learning (Ontario) states: ‘Using a case‐based approach engages students in discussion of specific situations, typically real‐world examples... [it] focuses on the building of knowledge.’

CBL stimulates analysis of data and decision‐making through acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. Cases add meaning by providing students with the opportunity to see theory in practice and are ideally authentic and based on real‐life narratives. CBL should enhance reflection on personal and professional experience, helping students apply learning to new situations. CBL allows learners to understand transactions between participants in case scenarios beyond mere factual aspects, enhancing empathy.

Although there are undoubted similarities across disciplines, there are differences in CBL utilisation. More interdisciplinary collaboration in development and delivery of cases, and investigation of what works, and how and why it works, is needed. This will parallel the Harvard cross disciplinary review of CBL (Garvin 2003). This project aims to develop interdisciplinary cases for the facilitation of generic and shared learning outcomes in business, medicine, law, education and social work, to pilot the cases and methods of delivery (paper, electronic, visual, virtual, simulation) and to evaluate their effectiveness and the underlying reasons for success or failure. We will build in time for student reflection on learning.

During the process of creating scenarios, a greater understanding of the ways in which different disciplines develop and use cases will emerge, enhancing the teaching practice of those involved that can be transferred to others in local teaching teams. So through the project we will also gain a better understanding of how to write good cases.

We will engage two students from each discipline for the project’s steering group. These students will advise and collaborate on cases, and liaise with the larger student body for the pilot projects.

WMS is reviewing its curriculum, with a new cased‐based curriculum starting in 2013. The cases are being written by clinicians from NHS trusts, and basic scientists from life and social sciences. This project will enable further collaboration with other disciplines to develop cases involving authentic situations where professionals from different disciplines work together, eg. in situations involving adult and child protection, domestic violence, working with personal budget holders, commissioning of health and social services, running partnerships, employee /employer health, service improvement. Cases will be piloted before the new curriculum is in place. Stakeholders include NHS clinicians, practitioners, clients/service users (via UNTRAP) and academics. The project will draw on lessons learnt from the successful development and delivery of the interprofessional learning pathway project (IPLP) by WMS and Coventry University, and the research into case teaching (Palmer 2005) and the current WBS ‘creativity in learning’ project.