3.6.1 How to use case studies

Case studies are a helpful tool to practice and apply concepts and skills that we have learned in Chapter 3 of this manual. What is a case study? It is a form of problem-based learning. A case study describes a situation that needs a solution, an idea, an intervention, a strategy. You may want to do this by yourself or with the discussion in small groups. Case studies are a wonderful tool to help you understand key concepts in much more depth. This is more important than finding perfect solutions. They are also great team-building opportunities. To solve a case, team members will have to work through different opinions, ideas, perspectives, and ways of working. This is why we recommend you use the following case studies in your training sessions for school staff, parents and youth workers.
To facilitate a training session using case studies, you might follow these steps:

  1. Greet the group and introduce yourself.
  2. Briefly, present the topic of a session (e.g. types of cyberbullying and effective strategies for each type).
  3. Present the case study:

    • Introduce the situation in a sentence or two.
    • Give a print of the case (and perhaps some thought-provoking discussion questions) to each participant.
    • Have participants quietly read through the text.
    • Have the group summarize the key points; make sure everyone understands the basics of the case.
    • Divide participants in pairs or small groups. Have them talk about the case and the discussion questions. Have them brainstorm and discuss possible solutions and strategies.
    • Ask each pair or small group to contribute one or two important ideas.

  4. Address open questions and dilemmas. But remember: you are not expected to have all the answers. Your job is to help participants think deeply about this important topic, not to give answers and recipes.
  5. Review key concepts of the training session together with participants.

Case studies are also a very helpful tool to work with children and young people. Real cases and specific situations are something they can understand and relate to. Experience helps them learn. You can use case studies during cyberbullying awareness workshops, mediation club meetings and in conflict-resolution training sessions. You might want to have the students read and discuss the cases or even use role-play to act them out.
However, a word of caution: students might perceive these cases very differently than adults. Make sure the case descriptions are age-appropriate, understandable, short and concise. A very important point is also NOT to overburden students emotionally: for example, it might be very difficult for them to process stories about cyberbullying resulting in suicides of young people. We also strongly encourage you to use case studies with happy or open endings when working with students.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have enough time and skills to process any emotional and cognitive processes that selected activities might evoke in students.