Managing Case Discussions in Introductory Business Statistics Classes: Practical Approaches for Instructors

Smith, Marlene A. and Bryant, Peter G.
American Statistician, Vol. 63 Issue 4,  pp. 348-355

Case discussions have become an integral component of our business statistics courses. We have discovered that case discussion adds enormous benefits to the classroom and learning experience of our students even in a quantitatively based course like statistics. As we read about discussion-based methods, we discovered that the literature is mostly silent about the specific challenges of case teaching in statistics courses. This article is an attempt to fill that void. It provides a “how-to” starter’s guide for those interested in incorporating case discussions in statistics courses. It includes resources for background reading, tips on setting up a statistics case discussion course, and examples of four specific case discussions involving statistics topics. An illustrative case and instructor’s notes that can be used on the first day of class are provided as well. Because we have had mixed reactions to conducting case discussions online, we believe that the use of case discussion in distance education statistics courses is a fruitful area for experimentation and research. Although our experience is in the business statistics classroom, this article is also applicable to statistics courses in other disciplines.