WHY CASES? Our rationale for the case project

Over the last several decades, the case method of teaching has become a deeply- rooted tradition in a number of professions including medicine, business, architecture, and public policy. Begun at the Harvard Business School in the 1920's, case teaching derives from the philosophy of John Dewey that education should be directly linked to future life experiences. As such, the case method enables new and experienced professionals to develop and refine their problem-solving abilities through in-depth analysis of complex issues. Within the last few years, the case approach has begun to flourish in teacher education because of the focused attention on school change and teacher professionalism. Cases provide novices with "the kind of problematic situations characteristic of teaching." (Kleinfeld in Shulman, 1992, p.20)

In Kentucky, teacher educators have a unique challenge: new teachers are entering a profession in the throes of major transformation as a result of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Where are the shared models to which new teachers can aspire or about which they can disagree? What images capture the kinds of dilemmas and accomplishments characteristic of teachers in the midst of reform? For example, how does a teacher effectively communicate the results of new types of assessment to both students and parents? A case we currently use in the University of Kentucky Masters with Initial Certification (MIC) program, "Staying the Course," depicts this situation but does not offer a single, best solution. Instead, it presents rich opportunities to problem- solve and carefully analyze important instructional issues before they are actually encountered in the classroom. The case is novel in two respects. First, it focuses on teaching issues in the context of policy-driven reform (mandated by law) and second, it will soon be available in an interactive compact disc format.

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