Using Interrupted Case Studies Can Increase Student Learning and Critical Thinking

Using Interrupted Case Studies Can Increase Student Learning and Critical Thinking


What is this Research About?

Research shows that case studies can help students learn how to apply theories and generate practical solutions to problems. Interrupted case-based instruction refers to providing case study information to students in small parts, separated by time. Studies receive information presented in a logical sequence, and they are instructed to ask questions, examine the evidence, and make predictions about what will happen next. Students then receive more information and re-examine their predictions. In this study, the researcher examined whether using an interrupted case study presented through a series of video documentaries would increase students’ critical thinking in a human development course.

What did the Researchers Do?

The researchers tested the effectiveness of using the Up series of documentaries as an interrupted case study. Students watched the documentaries and completed tests and essays. The researchers analyzed the test scores, essay responses, and self-reported learning to evaluate the effectiveness of the interrupted case studies for student learning.

What did the Researchers Find?

The researchers determined that using the Up documentary as an interrupted case study improved the students’ ability to think critically about human development theories. Students’ test scores increased from the beginning to the end of the semester. Student essays written later in the semester contained more examples of higher-order thinking. Students self-reported that they were better able to analyze and critically evaluate ideas than students who took the course in previous semesters (and did not complete the interrupted case study assignments). Interrupted video case studies can be used to improve critical thinking skills.

→ How to Implement this Research in Your Classroom

Case-based learning is an effective method for helping students learn to apply theoretical information to real-life scenarios. Interrupted case studies involve providing students with information in small doses, to give students time to make predictions about the case. Effective interrupted case studies possess the following characteristics:

  • relevant to the course outcomes

  • connect theory and practice

  • allow the student to make meaning of theories presented in class

  • presented as stories and include detail about the person in context

  • are realistically ambiguous


→  Citation

Anderson, B. (2019). Teaching developmental theory with interrupted video case studies. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19 (5), 123 – 136. doi: 10.14434/josotl.v19i5.25385

→  Keywords

  • Case-based instruction
  • Developmental theory
  • Video
  • Teaching tip

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Snapshot Writer: Jennifer Reniers

Snapshot Publication Date: 2020