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Case Studies

Case studies require you to analyze and solve real life problems and/or require you to demonstrate a need for research, clinical applications (if you are in health sciences, for example), or theoretical issues. In other words, you are applying what you have learned to a specific and concrete issue. To do so, you will assume a role (i.e. an outside auditor or a consultant) and work alone or in a group to solve a real-world problem using course concepts, while supporting all conclusions with facts and figures.

A similar type of assignment is a policy analysis where you will analyze a policy decision (e.g. a Ministry of Community and Social Services policy) and discuss things such as the implications of the policy on affected groups.

Sometimes, you may be required to develop your own case study based on data that you gather while working with an individual, a group, a community or an organization. If you do so, carefully balance important illustrative material and confidential case material. Confidentiality will be essential.


Carefully follow the directions provided by your instructor.

Define the problem

The first step is to define the problem in the case. Usually, the case will ask you to put yourself in the role of the person assigned to solve the problem (e.g. auditor). It is very important to define your role before conducting any of the analysis as it lays the groundwork for the approach that must be taken to solve the problem.

Audience analysis

For most cases, you need to examine the information provided in the case and determine who will use the information. In other words, who is your audience? Defining the users helps you to understand what role you play in the case. After defining the users, analyze the objectives of the audience. You need to understand why the users are interested in the information provided in the case.


What are the constraints or roadblocks in examining your case? This may include insufficient information, lack of knowledge of co-workers, financial resources, or other items.

Determining priorities

Once the issues have been identified, you must rank them so that the urgency of the issues can be determined. What are the priorities? Spend less time on lower-ranked issues and more time on the higher-ranked ones. Determine which ones must be completed first and which can wait until later.

Issue analysis

This is the most vital part of case analysis. Investigate the issues in the case using the skills learned during your course work and analyze the issues from the perspective of your role. 


Once the analysis of the issues is completed, you must now provide your recommendation(s) for solving the problem(s). Support your recommendation(s) with evidence and a strong rationale. This is where your critical thinking skills are demonstrated.