Skip to main content

For Educators: Tips on Using Raw Cases

SOM professor Olav Sorenson teaching in the classroom
Teaching the Endesa case study in the Executive class

Instructors can use raw cases in the same way as a paper-based case. However, many raw cases present pedagogical challenges in terms of the amount of material presented and the diverse perspectives considered. Nonetheless, the challenges can become opportunities.

Raw cases generally have more material than cooked cases. In addition to text, a raw case can include videos, links to news articles, reports, and spreadsheets. This overload of materials is a feature, not a flaw. Students will need to determine what is important and prioritize their prep time accordingly. While this is an important skill, instructors face the difficult task of facilitating a class discussion where they and students may have not have all read the same materials.

In addition, raw cases focus on a multiple perspectives and management disciplines. One case may have extensive discussions about a business’s political context, its accounting practices, and its human resource policies. We initially designed raw cases to fit an integrated curriculum, examining organizational dilemmas in relation to one another. But as a practical matter, this can make raw cases difficult to place in a traditional MBA curriculum that follows disciplinary boundaries.

In our years of using raw cases, a number of strategies have emerged to help fit raw cases into the MBA curriculum and ease preparation for students and instructors.

Strategies to Fit Raw Cases into Your Course

Focus the Assignment for a Single Class Presentation

Given the wealth of material in many raw cases, many instructors decide to tailor the assignment to specific sections of the raw case. Since the cases are composed of stand-alone sections, instructors can assign particular tabs or even subtabs to fit a course session's pedagogical goals, leaving the rest of the case for another class or as optional reading.

Spread One Case over Multiple Class Sessions

Many cases contain enough material and diversity of perspective to support several in-class discussions. For example, one instructor used Palm Oil 2016 by dividing the material across an entire semester.

Incorporate Videos in Class

When students are pressed for time, they often skip case videos. Some instructors showcase the video clips in class sessions to spur class discussion.

Use in Multi-Disciplined Capstone Courses

At Yale, raw cases are sprinkled through the curriculum. However, the capstone course, “The Executive,” uses raw cases for the entire syllabus. Raw cases have been extremely useful in capstone courses, because they ask students to integrate material from a variety of perspectives.

Use as a Vehicle for Team Teaching

In “The Executive” course mentioned above, the cases are team taught, allowing two or three faculty members to focus on the case material relevant to their own disciplines. Students have responded favorably to a well-organized “team” approach in which each professor brings a different set of experiences and expertise to resolving a single organization's dilemma. A raw case can be presented by several faculty members in one course session, as in "The Executive" course mentioned above, or it can be used across separate courses, each emphasizing a single aspect.

Incorporate Student Teams

Just as instructors can join forces to teach raw cases, students can be encouraged to team-up to tackle raw cases. The case will serve not only as the vehicle for the discussion of substantive materials, but also as an avenue to practice group coordination skills.

Assign for Projects and Exams

While the longer raw cases may make for a difficult assignment for a single class session, the cases can provide the basis for a final project in a semester-long course, calling on the complete set of skills presented in the course.

Use for Contests

Many raw cases debuted in case competitions. Owing to the rich source material, contest organizers have found that raw cases make excellent source material. The rich material encourages creativity and a wide variety of results.