The educator plans a lesson designed to help students understand a global issue from multiple perspectives. The educator selects an approach and facilitates students in analyzing case studies, discussing new insights, and reflecting on how their exploration of multiple viewpoints impacted their understanding of the global issue.
The case study approach presents students with an array of different cases, or specific examples, of the larger topic being studied. Through various media—including articles, poems, stories, primary source documents, photos, artwork, videos, etc.—case studies provide a concrete illustration of the ideas or issues students are exploring. For example, if students are being introduced to the concept of sustainability, they might examine photographs depicting resources, depletion, consumption, scarcity, abundance, and waste. If students are learning about genocide, they might read first-person accounts from the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, and so on. Through analysis of the details presented in each case, students are able to gain a deeper understanding of the concept and examine specifics that help make an abstract concept more concrete. Case studies can be used as an entry point into a unit of study or as touchstones throughout the unit. Often, it can be effective to present students with a series of case study collections in a purposeful sequence as a way to scaffold the meaning-making process.
The case study approach affords students the opportunity to interact and learn from one another, which requires that they are open to the multiple perspectives of their classmates. In addition, through the analysis of diverse cases illustrating various dimensions of the topic and/or different viewpoints on the issue, students are able to explore a globally significant issue from multiple perspectives. As they examine each case, students discover new perspectives on the global issue and gradually come to understand just how complex the issue is. Students are challenged to grapple with these complexities in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of the global issue.
World events and global issues are complex and multifaceted. Global challenges cannot be fully understood nor solved from a single perspective. Therefore, considering multiple perspectives is essential for global competence (See the Resources section for more information.) As students develop global competence, they gain the skills to recognize, articulate, and apply an understanding of different perspectives, including their own. They are aware of multiple viewpoints, demonstrate openness to new ideas and ways of thinking, and value diverse perspectives, recognizing views beyond their own as valid. They seek out and act on their understanding of different perspectives when making decisions and solving problems.
The case study method is a proven approach that increases student motivation and engagement and deepens student understanding. It builds on several instructional best practices such as active, experiential learning with an emphasis on inquiry and higher-order thinking (Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, 2005). It engages students in the high-yield strategies of identifying similarities and differences and cooperative learning (Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock, 2001). It also employs three strategies that facilitate deeper learning: teaching with examples and cases; encouraging elaboration, questioning, and explanation; and using multiple and varied representations of concepts (Pellegrino and Hilton).
The case study approach helps students develop tolerance for ambiguity as they are actively engaged in constructing meaning from the details of the case through an inductive and experiential learning process. Students offer ideas, raise questions, build on each other’s statements, and learn with and from each other in the process. As a cooperative, inductive, and inquiry-based teaching method, the use of case studies is a demonstrably effective way to increase student learning (Hattie, 2009).
Global competence refers to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions individuals need to be successful in today's interconnected world and to be fully engaged in and act on issues of global significance. The Global Competence Task Force defined globally competent individuals as "those who use their knowledge and skills to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize their own and others' perspectives, communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences, and translate their ideas into appropriate actions" (see link below).
Example Global Competence Frameworks
Example Global Issues
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Please submit a video or audio recording of students participating in the reflective debrief at the end of the case studies lesson (maximum length: three minutes) OR written reflections from three to five different students that demonstrate how the case studies helped them understand the global issue from multiple perspectives (maximum length: three pages).
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