What is the Case Study Method of Learning?
The case study method (or case method) of learning is a powerful tool for you to learn and apply concepts introduced in courses to real-life situations, strategies, and dilemmas faced by professionals and companies in the fashion industry. As an outcome of analyzing fashion business cases, you will practice problem-solving and communication skills necessary for your future success. You will be exposed to a variety of issues and problems within the fashion industry, understanding such dilemmas are not unique to a particular company or organization but are part of working within the fashion industry.
The power of learning from case studies comes not only from your analysis of the case study but also from written assignments and group/class discussions. As such, you may be required to complete written analyses and/or oral presentations around the case study. The case study method of learning is inductive and experiential; often with no single “correct” answer. In fact, you may disagree with conclusions or recommendations made by others in your class. These assignments and activities will provide you with an opportunity to express, support, and defend your conclusions and recommendations as well as learning from others in your class.
Learning Objectives of Fashion Business Cases
Case studies provide the opportunity to apply and practice analytic, evaluative, and communication skills. As a result of the Case Study Method, you will demonstrate your ability to:
- Diagnose and articulate a problem or issue related to the fashion industry.
- Analyze and critically evaluate alternative solutions to the particular problem or issue.
- Present (in written and oral formats) ideas/solutions and justifications for those ideas/solutions.
- Listen and express and defend thoughts to others.
- Think like a fashion industry professional.
Approaches to Fashion Business Cases
Although individuals vary in their approaches to fashion business case analyses, below are general guidelines that may inform the approach that will work best for you. Depending on the length and complexity of the case study, you will want spend necessary time in reading, researching, and writing notes about the case. In general, you will need a minimum of two hours preparing a response to a 1,000-word case study and a minimum of four hours for longer cases. (Your instructor can provide specific timing guidance about individual case studies and associated assignments.)
- Read through the entire case study including the Business Questions. Think broadly about the concepts and issues introduced in the case study. From whose perspective (decision-maker) will the case study analysis be written/communicated? Put yourself in the shoes of this individual.
- Review relevant readings and/or background information related to the case study. Become familiar with terminology introduced in the case study.
- Read the case again; this time identifying key facts relevant to the issue as you go along. Take notes about areas of analysis that you will need to conduct. Refer to the Business Questions at the end of the case as guidance for the topics you will need to address.
- Reflect on the areas of analysis, study relevant information, and begin noting your responses to each of the areas, weighing advantages and disadvantages of solutions/conclusions you are considering. Note facts and relevant research used to inform these advantages and disadvantages (and used to inform your final justifications). Be sure you are approaching the conclusions and recommendations from the perspective of the decision-maker in which the case analysis is being written/communicated.
- Review your conclusions and formulate a set of recommendations along with justifications for the conclusions.
Preparing Your Analysis of Fashion Business Cases
To achieve the greatest learning from fashion business cases you should follow a systematic approach when communicating your analysis. In general, you should address the following areas; although the Business Questions may ask you to address specific aspects included in the case study.
- Presentation of facts surrounding the case. Provide background of the situation, including organizational factors, context, and the external environment.
- Identification of the various concerns, issues, and problems evident in the situation. What is the issue? What key facts should be considered?
- Listing of alternative solutions to the problem(s) and alternative courses of action (e.g., Business Questions will give direction).
- Evaluation of the alternative solutions based upon the criteria selected for this purpose; arguments must be supported with evidence.
- Recommendation of the best solution/course of action and plans for implementing the course of action.
- Identification of possible follow-up issues.
Tips for Success
As you prepare cases for class discussion and for written assignments, you should consider the following:
- Carefully evaluate all information presented in the case,
- List all possible problems and concerns, being sure to look at causes of the problem area, not symptoms,
- Use textbook material, current articles, and other resources (library materials, websites, interviews, field observations) to research the situation, problem, and alternatives,
- Use your own personal experiences around the topics that may inform your conclusions and recommendations,
- Be creative in developing alternative courses of action,
- Assess each alternative based on the information in the case and the criteria established, and
- Be ready to defend the selected course of action.
Written Case Study Analysis
If written assignments are required, case study analyses should be typed. Include headings if they assist the reader with the organization of the case analysis. Supporting evidence must be included. This may be textbook, journal articles, and/or appropriate website information. Cite all work using the preferred formatting for citations within the written document and in the Bibliography.
If class participation/presentations are required, you may be asked to take on the role of one of the following:
- Case Opener – you will summarize the key issues of the case.
- Action Plan Presenter – you will describe a solution and justification or present a response to one of the discussion questions.
- Participant – you will ask questions, provide alternative perspectives, and defend those perspectives.
Presentations may be made in small groups or to the entire class. If small groups are used, conclusions drawn by the group will be expected for several cases and presented to the entire class.
Ground Rules for Discussion
There is generally more than one “correct” answer to the case study issues, problems, and questions. In fact, you may find that you disagree with the conclusions or recommendations made by others in your class. This can/should result in lively discussion. However, to get the most out of these discussions:
- No one will be humiliated for anything they say – personal attacks will not be tolerated. However, if you are not prepared, your comments are careless, or your thoughts are not clear, you may feel embarrassed. Embarrassment and humiliation are not the same thing.
- Rude or offensive comments or class behavior, including bigotry of any kind, will not be tolerated. Your discussions are to be civil, with every student showing proper respect for the beliefs and the dignity of every other student.
Case Study Analyses will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Care with which facts and background knowledge are used.
- Demonstration of the ability to clearly identify and state problems and issues.
- Use of appropriate analytic techniques in identifying feasible solutions/plans of action.
- Evidence of sound logic/argument.
- Consistency between analysis and recommendations.
- Ability to formulate reasonable and feasible recommendations for action.
Looking for additional guidance? If you would like us to create further student resources to support the case study method of learning in fashion please contact Holly Shore to discuss your needs and resources we can develop to support them.