2 THE BOSTON COLLEGE MATHEMATICS CASE STUDIES PROJECT
Manage a classroom of students with a wide range of background knowl-
edge and of ability? Balance teaching and other responsibilities, such as
completing one’s dissertation?
Finally, just what is a Case Study, and what does one do with it? A
Case is an excerpt from a teaching situation, described from the perspective
of various students and of the instructor. The Case raises a variety of ped-
agogical and communication issues, to be explored and analyzed in group
discussion, for example by a group of graduate teaching assistants together
with a faculty facilitator. Group consideration of a Case offers the advan-
tage of drawing upon collective experience and diverse perspectives, and
allows different issues, ideas, and strategies to be considered and discussed.
The methodology of Case Studies is widely used in this way in areas such as
business and law, and also in teacher development, both university-level and
precollegiate, in diverse subjects from the humanities to accounting. Alter-
natively, a reader working independently may take each Case as an exercise,
thinking about the situation, asking what the different issues are, what he
or she would do next or would have done differently, what can be learned.
We hope that the consideration of these mathematics Cases, in either
a group or an individual setting, will be thought-provoking, and will help
each reader to develop high-quality teaching skills for use in his or her own
classroom.
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