Journal Section

Trends and Roles Assignment

I have spent some time researching and reading through various articles on my chosen topic “Case-Based Instructional Strategies”. This is a huge topic that spans across so many different vocations. I really had no idea! But, it makes sense.

On of the articles I read summarized the information nearly upfront. When speaking about the fact that Adult Learning is “non-traditional”- that is to say that there are many challenges for adult learners that are not present with “traditional” or child learners. In order to capture the interest of adult learners, there were many statements made and one in particular applies to the concept of case based learning:

“2. Adult learning is self-directed. Adults take responsibility for their own learning. Malcolm Knowles defined self-directed learning as “a process by which people identify their learning needs, set goals, choose how to learn, gather materials, and evaluate their progress” (Rubenson, 2011, p. 53).” 

This statement defines cased based learning. Adult learners gain greatly from being able to take a topic and cover all that is needed within that topic- they can relate to the topic and therefore, subsequently, identify their learning needs and decide how to learn what they need to learn from that topic.

As far as the roles of the educator in Adult Learning- and, specifically, in Case Based Learning- there are many.We facilitate, we enable independence and we empower.

We facilitate by presenting the concept of case based learning to the students. Students may or may not have ever worked formally with Case Based Learning so as an educator, it is our role to facilitate this learning by introducing the topic and assisting with clarification as needed. Sometimes this may even require providing some guidance to get the student started.

We provide autonomy and independence by putting the learning back into the students’ hands. The student dissects the case study and decides for themselves what they want or need to learn and can also decide how they will learn it.

And finally, we empower the student by sharing power and decision making with the student.

“Teachers should “avoid being in the position of providing right answers.” They should make sure that there is equal access to all resources, include self-evaluation in graded courses, involve students in managing the learning environment, and be open and explicit about what is happening and why (Rubenson, 2011, p.57).”

Case- or context- or problem- based learning is often used in health care. It has been in use in nursing schools for many years however, more recently, I have seen it used very successfully in ongoing yearly staff training programs. Most predominantly, case studies are used in Emergency Management training. With the addition of technology, case based learning will become even more vibrant.

Recently I worked for a health authority that had just launched their interactive simulation lab which is to be used for many of the programs within the region. These include the local and surrounding hospitals and their staff training as well as for medical students from the local university and for other allied health staff from the region. By using an interactive mannequin and hooking him up to computers and the associated software, the facilitator can have the mannequin manifest all of the signs and symptoms of myocardial infarction and subsequent cardiac arrest as the user (or group of users) work their way through saving the poor guy.

As an instructor, what I can do to prepare for additional use of case based learning is continually increase my knowledge on it’s uses and any improvements that are in the works (technology, etc). Another thing I see being important as a facilitator for adult educators with regards to context based learning is to ensure that it is applicable to that group of students. When a person is able to obtain a ‘buy-in’ mentality- that is to say, really engage (in a sort of light bulb moment)- from a group and they are able to see how it applies, that is a big part of the learning battle. The learner then feels that it makes sense for them and they have some control over their learning which can then only improve their outcome.


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