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Teaching methodology

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Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2008, 09:58
I have been a little confused regarding selecting schools with 100% case study method. On one hand, I like Darden for its strong general management focus, but on the other hand I wonder if I can handle case study method for all subjects.

In general what kind of a person should I be to handle learning thru case studies? Even if I am bold enough to speak in the class, in subject I am not familiar with (such as finance) I feel that I will shy from speaking in front of students who already come from that background and lose out on class participation.

Second, If in the 1st year everyone has to prepare 3-4 cases in a day, how much time can one allocate to a single case? Would it not happen that one will prepare for 3 cases in depth and just peruse over the remaining? If so, what learning would one have on that subjects?

Please answer in detail...

Thank you.
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Re: Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2008, 16:24
This is not the detailed answer you're looking for, but my opinion is that in order to survive in a case-study-only curriculum, you basically have to believe that you can make a game-changing contribution in every class, regardless of your previous expertise in the area. That belief has to come from within yourself, and you should already know if you have that or not.
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Re: Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2008, 20:09
Actually a lot of case classes utilize the "socratic method," I believe - the professor calls on students randomly to comment on the case in every class. So it's not a question of you being shy and losing out on class participation - you will be forced to participate! And that's a good thing because good managers need to be articulate and possess superb communication skills (ha! tell that to my boss).

aakashganga wrote:
Even if I am bold enough to speak in the class, in subject I am not familiar with (such as finance) I feel that I will shy from speaking in front of students who already come from that background and lose out on class participation.


And pelihu has clarified that even at a school as academically "intense" as Darden, the average is really 2-3 cases per day, four days a week. Working in learning teams while preparing for case-oriented classes probably presents an opportunity to divide up portions of the assigned cases efficiently among your team, so it's not really that intensive an exercise as it might sound.
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Re: Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2008, 20:43
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Yes, that is correct. I don't know about other schools, but first year students at Darden have 2 or 3 classes per day, generally 4 days a week often with some type of activity or a reading day on Fridays. Plus, you have a learning team to work with to prepare your cases for each day. It's up to each team how they like to spend their time (or whether to even continue working together). I'd say that 95% of the learning teams stick together at least through the recruiting season in January/February. At that point, some teams meet less frequently as people get the hang of preparing for classes, and because motivation levels go in different directions. In my personal experience, I spent a couple of hours preparing cases in the afternoon, and then an hour and a half with my learning team before each class day. Some learning teams regularly spent much longer together, but the individuals did less preparation on their own. Of course, if you read slowly, you might need more time to get through the material.

I'll try to share a little flavor of how the case method works (at Darden). Most classes begin with some background information - and could start with either volunteers or a cold-call. Anyone who has read the case will be able to handle this portion of the class, so getting cold called at this stage is only nerve-wracking for about 2 days. As the class progresses, you develop background and facts. Then, generally there is a second cold call where a person is asked to present the real meat of the case. Depending on the class, this could be a financial model or a balance sheet or some data analysis or strategic framework. This cold-call is tougher, and more the trickiest cases professors will actually ask for volunteers rather than cold-calling. The thing to remember is that you've already gone over this with your learning team the night before, so it's extremely rare that people will not have anything to present. Certainly, sometimes entire learning teams are wrong, and certain cases are designed to illustrate common mistakes (we have a data analysis case that demonstrates a very common modeling error) so having an incorrect answer doesn't mean that you will be penalized.

I think the Darden admissions process helps to identify people that will succeed in the system; for example I think the interview carries a lot of weight. If you come to Darden, you'll be surprised initially by how much everyone has to contribute - even the ones you think will be extremely quiet. As long as you put in the effort to prepare on your own and with your learning team (admitted students of course), you will not have a problem with class participation. If you get cold-called and didn't prepare anything, that's not good; and if you talk a lot without paying attention to the flow of the discussion or if you take the discussion backwards, that's not good either. But if you put in the effort to prepare, you'll be fine - even if you have more questions than answers.
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Re: Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 03 Aug 2008, 22:11
Wow,Pelihu.

You have ,so far in the two threads ( darden thread and this one), presented Darden much lucidly than the whole school website ( for that matter any school website) could have done.
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Re: Teaching methodology [#permalink] New post 04 Aug 2008, 08:09
aakashganga wrote:
In general what kind of a person should I be to handle learning thru case studies? Even if I am bold enough to speak in the class, in subject I am not familiar with (such as finance) I feel that I will shy from speaking in front of students who already come from that background and lose out on class participation.


I think this is largely up to you and your goals. I have not attended b-school yet, but I have a theory that one should attend the sort of school that will push them out of their comfort zone. My undergrad course of study was in liberal arts and was similar to the case method -- read something and then present your ideas and findings to the class while defending your thesis and debating with others. As such, I think I would probably tear the case method apart and be relatively bored in the program. On the other hand though, if I were to attend a school with a more technical/quant focus like MIT, Chicago, or Wharton, I would probably get owned. I think in the long run, it's better for quant / engineering types to attend a case method school since they tend to be weaker in the skills that the case method helps develop, and likewise, for a more qualitative person to attend to a rigorous technical program to boost that area of their skillset. So on some level, it depends on how hard you want to push yourself.
Re: Teaching methodology   [#permalink] 04 Aug 2008, 08:09
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