Panel Paper: Multi-Media Management Teaching Cases Impacts On Student Learning

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 11:15 AM
Poe (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jodi Sandfort, J. Christopher Brooks and Jacqueline Aman, University of Minnesota

Within public policy education, analysis of critical cases is a “signature pedagogy” (Shulman, 2005), particularly in teaching public and nonprofit management.  Building upon long tradition within public administration (Rosenbloom 1995), teaching cases can provide opportunities to explore tough analytical and ethical decisions through their thick, contextual description.  Proponents claim cases improve professionals’ learning, by enabling them to integrate, apply, and test general knowledge in ways other pedagogies – such as didactic lectures – do not (Gibson, 2008; Harney & Krauskopf, 2003; Rivenbark, 2007; Robyn, 1998).  Yet, empirical investigations of such claims are virtually non-existent.

The rise of new technologies provides an opportunity to address this limitation in our knowledge.  In this paper, we investigate how a second generation of teaching cases enhanced with multi-media content might influence student learning outcomes.  Our empirical evidence comes from two field studies.  In both, we started by considering how a well regarded taxonomy of learning outcomes (Fink 2003) applies to aspirations in the public affairs classroom.  In both trials, we used a quasi-experimental design.  In the first, we compare differences within individuals exposed to the same written and e-cases in both under-graduate and graduate public management classes (4 sections at both levels, n=185).  In the second, we compare differences among individuals by varying the intervention across three sections of the same course graduate: one group was exposed to the written case, another to both written and multi-media segments; and, the third group experienced the full e-case (n=95).  Our analysis of survey data highlights results from both trials and comparison among the methodologies. 

This paper enriches our evidence-base knowledge about ways to conceptualize and assess public management education.  The literature informing the study reflects advances made in learning science in other professional fields, such as business and k-12 education.  We also provide a conceptual overview from this literature that guided the empirical investigation and influenced our hypotheses about how case study teaching might affect learning outcomes among our students.  In this way, this paper both presents results of field trials and establishes a foundation for other scholars committed developing a more robust foundation for our pedagogies. 


Fink, L. D. 2003. Creating Significant Learning Experiences. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Gibson, Pamela A. 2008. "Evaluative Criteria to Create and Assess Case Studies for Use in Ethical Decision-Making Analysis." Journal of Public Affairs Education 14(3):297-309.

Harney, Joseph M. and Marian S. Krauskopf. 2003. "Making the Case for Cases: The Use of "Home Grown" Teaching Cases to Provide Credibility in Continuing Professional Education Programs." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 22(1):135-142.

Rivenbark, William C. 2007. "Using Cases to Teach Financial Management Skills in MPA Programs." Journal of Public Affairs Education 13(2):451-459.

Robyn, Dorothy. 1998. "Teaching Public Management: The Case For (and Against) Cases." International Journal of Public Administration 21(6):1141.

Rosenbloom, David H. 1995. "The Use of Case Studies in Public Administrative Education in the USA." Journal of Management History 1(1):33.

Shulman, Lee S. 2005. "Signature pedagogies in the professions." Daedalus 134(3):52-60.