The Role of Case Studies in Global Ethics Education

  • Willem A. Hoffmann
Part of the Advancing Global Bioethics book series (AGBIO, volume 10)


Case studies are widely used in ethics education. This chapter addresses four main areas: (1) Definition of “case study”; (2) Educational value of case studies; (3) Case study content; and (4) Case study scheduling. Various educational aims can be pursued through case studies: facilitation of self-reflection; understanding of ethics principles; appreciation of real-life ethical challenges; and critical reasoning skills. Case study content is guided by educational factors and case study content sources. Five educational factors are considered: (1) Congruence with course learning objectives and unit themes; (2) Congruence with educational objectives; (3) Content fidelity; (4) Contextual focus; and (5) Level of complexity. Various case study content sources can be utilised, namely casebooks, audio-visual material, news reports, formal literature and self-developed material. Some practical considerations are applicable when selecting case study format in a specific context. The first is the case study length, followed by the students’ learning style preferences. The third is case study frequency during a course, while the fourth consideration focuses on using an educator-facilitated approach or a student-based self-guided approach. Case studies can be scheduled at the start of a session where it raises awareness and is useful for educator situation analysis. During a session it illustrates concepts, stimulates reflection and develops analysis skills. At the end of a session it is beneficial for concept integration and formative assessment, while between sessions it is applicable for formative assessment, self-reflection and analysis skill development. At the end of the course it is suitable for summative assessment.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tshwane University of TechnologyPretoriaSouth Africa

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