Case-Based Teaching in A.H.S. – Chad E. Gooyers

A few months ago I attended a workshop facilitated by Professor Ian McKillop from the School of Public Health and Health Systems, entitled “The Case for Online Cased-Based Learning”.  This inspired me to further explore how this teaching method could be applied in my own discipline of study, Kinesiology.

As a multidisciplinary body of knowledge, it is imperative that post-secondary training in Kinesiology develops a conceptual understanding of theories in the basic sciences (i.e. chemistry, biology, and physics) and promotes the necessary analytical and problem-solving skills that are essential for challenging today’s most the complex health problems.  Traditionally, Behaviorist (i.e. teacher-centered) instructional methods have dominated science teaching, reducing education to a transfer of information (Mazur, 2009), even though most experts teaching in these fields recognize that post-secondary education should foster “higher-level” thinking in their students.

Interestingly, despite having “success” with traditional teaching methods, a considerable number of health science students struggle with the application of factual knowledge to real-world problems (Watters et al. 2007).  For this reason, A.H.S. programs around the globe have been searching for methods to better prepare their students for the world of practice.   Borrowing from pedagogy applied in professional schools (e.g. law, business and medicine), many instructors are now using case-based teaching to compliment the more traditional lecture-textbook-laboratory courses.

The Association for Case Teaching defines case-based instruction as “a means of participatory and dialogical teaching and learning by group discussion and of actual events.” This definition encompasses a wide variety of approaches to case-based teaching (e.g. written, video, interactive, etc.).  For this reason, there is no single, best, method for integrating this pedagogical approach in post-secondary courses, as many instructors have devised creative ways for capitalizing on its educational strengths (e.g. directed, ‘real-time’, online cases, etc.). However, most variations of case-based teaching have many of the same objectives: (i) they foster an interactive and engaging form of student-centered learning, (ii) develop students’ ability to work with others and (iii) reinforce students’ confidence to think critically and articulate their ideas (Dunne & Brooks, 2004).  Moreover, case-based teaching allows course content to be structured in ways that can easily be applied in practical settings, and facilitates the integration of knowledge and skills from multiple domains of learning.

For those interested in learning more about case-based teaching and learning in A.H.S., my colleague Dr. Diana De Carvalho and I will be facilitating a 90-minute workshop entitled “Case Method Learning: Applications in Kinesiology” on Friday, April 27 @ 10 a.m.  Please send me an email if you are interested in attending.



Dunne, D. & Brooks, K. (2004).  Teaching with cases. Halifax: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Mazur, E. (2009). Farewell, lecture. Science, 323(5910), 50-51.

Watters, D. J. & Watters, J. J. (2007). Approaches to learning by students in the biological sciences: Implications for teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 29(1), 19-43.

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Chad E. Gooyers is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo (UW). Along with his studies he also works as a Graduate Instructional Developer with the Centre for Teaching Excellence and is the current Director of Government Relations with the Ontario Kinesiology Association.

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