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Case-Based Learning


Last Updated:
July 21, 2023

First Published:
January 27, 2023


Case-based learning (CBL) is a learner-centered teaching strategy in which learners analyze authentic problems, real or fictional, to address problems, resolve questions, and/or identify solutions. Working in groups or individually, learners examine cases using guided inquiry, applying knowledge and critical thinking skills, and connecting theory to practice developing relevant skills (Thistlethwaite et al., 2012). During CBL, faculty prepare cases, guide discussion, and provide feedback while students prepare for the case in advance, participate in discussion, and ask questions.   

Use the comments section below to let us know your ideas about case-based learning.

  1. Steps to Creating a CBL Activity (Queen’s University) 

    1. Write Learning Objectives/Outcomes (what do you want the learners to know, do, or value by the end of this activity)

    2. Select Case (real/fictional, original/borrowed, must align with objectives, relevant and appropriate)

    3. Develop Questions to Guide Discussion (what problem needs to be solved, open-ended)

    4. Facilitate Group Discussions (faculty act as guide on the side)

    5. Debrief (compare responses to understand implications of solutions)

  2. Questions to ask when developing CBL activities (Vanderbilt University)

    1. What do you want students to learn from the discussion of the case? 

    2. What are the issues that may be raised in discussion?

    3. What preparation is expected of students?  

    4. What directions do you need to provide students regarding what they are supposed to do and accomplish? 

    5. Do you need to divide students into groups, or will they discuss as the whole class? 

    6. What are the opening questions? 

  3. Pre-written cases can be a time-saver; however, it may be difficult to identify a case that aligns with your learning objectives/outcomes. Check out the resource list of pre-written cases on the TLC website. 

  • Chris Jackson, MD, College of Medicine

  • Angie Haynes, College of Dentistry