each decision case in this collection, the author(s)
provided teaching notes. However, these notes are available
only to social work instructors. The notes help instructors
select particular cases for classroom use and, subsequently,
prepare for leading case discussions. The teaching notes
include several components: case summary, suggested
educational level and courses, potential learning
objectives, discussion questions, teaching suggestions, and
Case authors identify
the educational level (e.g., BSW or MSW) and particular
courses for which the case may be most appropriate. With
regard to educational level, a case is usually most
appropriate for students preparing to work at the level
of the case’s protagonist (i.e., a case having a
BSW-level practitioner will work best for BSW students).
With regard to particular courses, most cases can be
used across multiple courses because they depict
problems that involve overlapping content domains (e.g.,
a single case may involve direct practice with a client,
policy issues, and religion/spirituality). Depending on
how their curriculum is organized, instructors may
select cases by primary practice method, field of
practice, or other content area. Furthermore, most
decision cases lend themselves to discussion from
multiple theoretical perspectives.
Given the potentially
diverse uses of particular cases across and within
courses, case authors suggest possible learning
objectives. Of course, a single case discussion will not
accomplish all or even most of the objectives listed for
the case. But the listed objectives help instructors
decide which cases may support their course objectives,
and begin to suggest areas for class discussion.
help instructors plan for leading a case discussion.
Because case authors attempt to provide one or more
discussion questions related to each of the learning
objectives, instructors should select discussion
questions related to their learning objectives. Further,
instructors will seldom use the discussion questions
verbatim or in the exact order provided because
questions must be selected and formulated to fit the
flow of a particular discussion. The suggested
discussion questions are organized into three sequential
categories: facts, analysis, and intervention.
help to clarify important but potentially overlooked
or confusing aspects of the case data for students.
help students to think more systemically and
critically. Specifically, these questions help
students identify and gain deeper understanding of key
factors in the cases and how these factors are
interrelated. Case authors provide brief responses to
the questions that highlight the issues and possible
relationships. These responses are not so much
“right answers” as suggestions for what to
consider and explore.
questions shift the focus from case assessment and
analysis to decision making for action. As in actual
practice, case data may be incomplete, ambiguous, and
contradictory. Nevertheless, social workers must
decide how to proceed. Intervention questions help to
explore possible courses of action and their possible
In addition to
extensive discussion questions, case authors provide
teaching suggestions. These include supplementary
learning activities that may be: assigned to students in
advance of the discussion, implemented within the
classroom (often inside the case discussion), or
assigned as follow-up. Such activities may enrich and
reinforce the learning associated with case discussions.
teaching notes are available only for social work
instructors to preserve the full challenge for students
of understanding and resolving the case dilemmas, the
distinguishing feature of the case method of learning.