Case studies have a long history in business, law, and medical education. Their use in science education, however, is relatively recent. In our years of working with the method, we have found it to be a powerful pedagogical technique for teaching science. Cases can be used not only to teach scientific concepts and content, but also process skills and critical thinking. And since many of the best cases are based on contemporary, and often contentious, science problems that students encounter in the news, the use of cases in the classroom makes science relevant.
We have also found the method to be extraordinarily flexible. We have seen it used as the core of entire courses or for single experiences in otherwise traditional lecture and lab courses. Moreover, cases can be presented in a variety of formats and taught in a variety of ways, ranging from the classical discussion method used in business and law schools to Problem-Based Learning and Team Learning, with their emphasis on small-group, cooperative learning strategies.