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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploration of the characteristics of case-based learning activities in disaster and emergency management post-secondary programs : what is and what might be Slick, Jean Marie


This study was motivated by my curiosity about what the distinctive characteristics of the use of cases in disaster and emergency management (DEM) post-secondary programs are and might be. DEM is new field of post-secondary study, and as of yet there do not appear to be any signature case-based teaching methods, as there are in other fields of study (e.g., law, business). The goals of this study were to (a) explore how and why faculty members use case in teaching in the DEM field, (b) examine cultural historic factors influencing how and why cases are used, and (c) develop instructional design guidance, based on the study findings, to support the use of cases in the DEM field, considering both what is and what might be. Qualitative case-based research methods were employed to learn about current practices for teaching with cases in the DEM field. Seven faculty members who have contributed to the development of DEM as a field of study participated in this research. The orienting theory for this study, which framed data collection and analysis, was activity theory, which is a recognized variant of socio-cultural learning theory. Data included transcripts from interviews with faculty members, as well as copies of course syllabi and materials used in their case-based learning activities. A total of 37 different case-based learning activity designs were examined in detail. The type of instructional guidance developed from the study findings was informed by practices associated with design-based research methods used in the education field. The findings from the study supported the development of an outcome theory explaining three distinctive reasons for using cases in teaching in the DEM field, as well as how cases support achievement of each of the different types learning outcomes. The findings also informed the development an instructional design framework to support the use of the outcome theory. The outcome theory and design framework demonstrate the value of scholarly inquiry into pedagogical practice in the DEM field, and are meant to spark discussion in the DEM higher education community about current and potential uses of cases in teaching.

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