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Many applicants are intrigued by the case method and its uses.
The case method developed at HBS under Deans Gay and Donham in the first decades of the school. It was first used in the Commerical Law class and the similar "problem method" was used in other courses. Considering Donham's training as a law student at Harvard Law, the use of the case method at Havard Business School seemed a logical development.
In skilled hands, the case method can be extremely successful. One of its greatest strengths is that it emphasizes that facts matter and are not something to be assumed away in ceteris paribus type clauses. The case method is also outstanding at developing the skills of elucidating and defending your position under great public pressure and working with fellow students to understand a complex problem. In addition, the fact that the cases are derived from actual business problems contributes a sense of realism to the discussions.
Of course, in the wrong hands the case method can be an unmitigated disaster. The case method requires the professor to play many roles and some professors are simply not up to this challenge. One of the most important roles is to enable the flow of the conversation. Unfortunately, unskilled professors let the same students dominate the discussion with innane observations that are obvious to everyone else in the room. The case method also requires that the professor have a great deal of respect for the students and let students spell out thoughts that might be incompletely formed when first uttered.
In addition, some believe that the case method is poorly suited to learning some forms of information- especially foundation information in core courses. There is a joke along the lines that if the case method dominated the education system, children would never learn how to read, write, or solve math problems (instead of showing students how to form the letters, the teacher would assign lengthy stories about how other students faced a dilemma about how to print the letter g followed by lengthy discussion about which way of forming the letter g would best meet the goals and critieria of various parties to the transaction). Of course, staunch defenders of the case method would argue that it is intended only for "mature" graduate students who are capable of learning on their own and do not need to be "spoon fed" information in the same manner as undergraduates.
The retains its dominant position at Harvard, Virginia, and Western Ontario as well as some other schools around the world.
I dont think any mba school can do without case based teaching. Correct me but I do believe that each school would be dealing with a few cases atleast. Management education has to have a "case" angle....
But the traditional view is that Harvard typically focuses on case based classrooms and Stanford on lecture based....
I guess - the percentage at some institute would be 60-80% case based and at others 60-80% lecture based. Check out the website of each individual school.
Personally, having had education from both the systems, I do prefer a system which is about 60% lecture based and 40% case based....Others may beg to differ. Engineers thrive in lecture based environment.....
The case method is also associated with schools with that emphasize general management such as Harvard and Virginia. Further, the generalist and "real world" approach of the case method is well suited for preparation for consulting.
i agree with all previous posters on the case method and its adaptability to certain subjects like management or marketing. harvard, unc, uva have proved that it works. i just don't see the case method used for something as structured as accounting. its just not going to work. btw does anyone know of schools teaching accounting using the case method?? i haven't.