Applying case- based teaching method in current teaching of political theory subjects for students

Abstract. Education and training in today’s era is to provide learners with a learning method to optimize their potential, to build and develop independent and creative thinking ability; and to build self-learning and self-researching methods. In oder to fulfill this role, improving the teaching method is essential, of which case-based teaching method has shown its effectiveness. Cases from practical life or cases are set up by the lecturer helped learners to enhance their problem-solving and collaboration capabilities, and stimulated their thinking. Those types of cases will generate learners’ interest, and the knowledge from solving the problems will be useful companion for them to apply in their future life.

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HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1075.2017-0138 Educational Sci., 2017, Vol. 62, Iss. 6, pp. 138-146 This paper is available online at APPLYING CASE-BASED TEACHINGMETHOD IN CURRENT TEACHING OF POLITICAL THEORY SUBJECTS FOR STUDENTS Le Bao Ngoc1, Pham Viet Thang2 1Faculty of Civic Education – Laws, Can Tho College 2Faculty of Politics - Civic Education, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. Education and training in today’s era is to provide learners with a learning method to optimize their potential, to build and develop independent and creative thinking ability; and to build self-learning and self-researching methods. In oder to fulfill this role, improving the teaching method is essential, of which case-based teaching method has shown its effectiveness. Cases from practical life or cases are set up by the lecturer helped learners to enhance their problem-solving and collaboration capabilities, and stimulated their thinking. Those types of cases will generate learners’ interest, and the knowledge from solving the problems will be useful companion for them to apply in their future life. Keywords: Case, teaching case, case-based teaching method, teaching Political theory subjects. 1. Introduction In nowadays society, robust development of technical and technology science led to rapid increase of human knowledge base as well as the speed of applying knowledge in every area of social life. This resulted in the existance of two education trends: firstly, providing learners with maximum knowledge to lay a firm foundation for future career activities; secondly, providing learners with skills to solve problems occured in their life and work, rather than providing knowledge for learners [1; 237]. During recent years in Vietnam, the second trend has drawn a lot of attention and research from educators, while the key step has been considered in the innovation of teaching method. In this context, the case-based teaching method has been proven to offer various advantages and benefits. Since the past several years, many authors have paid attention, carried out research, and used this teaching method in teaching many different science subjects. Some examples of works include: Some issues in building and suggesting use of legal cases in teaching Introduction to Laws subject of Nguyen Thi Quang Duc [2]; Dang Xuan Dieu with his research: How to create problem cases in teaching Basic theory of Marxism and Leninism subject (section “Theory of Marxism-Leninism about Socialism”) [3]; Vu Thi Thuy with Applying case-based teaching method in Law field education [4]; Case-based teaching and some methods to apply cases in teaching Chemistry for highschools of Pham Vu Nhat Uyen [5] etc. Based on these facts, this article focuses on analysis of applying case-processing method in teaching Political theory subjects at universities to enhance teaching and learning quality of these subjects. Received date: 10/4/2017. Published date: 15/6/2017. Contact: Pham Viet Thang, e-mail: vietthang271077@yahoo.com.vn 138 Applying case-based teaching method in current teaching of political theory subjects for students 2. Content 2.1. Overview of case-based teaching method 2.1.1. Concept According to Trinh Van Bieu: “Case-based teaching is a teaching method organized according to actual life situations, where learners build their knowledge through solving social problems during the learning process” [7; 23]. According to Nguyen Van Cuong: “Case-based teaching is a teaching viewpoint, where teaching is organized accordingly a complex subject related to practical situations of life and work. The learning process is organized in a learning environment, creating favourable conditions for the learners to gain knowledge individually and from social interaction during the study process” [7; 24]. According to Nguyen Huu Lam: “case-based method is a teaching technique where fundamental elements of case research are presented to learners with illustration purposes or experiences in solving problems” [7; 24]. According to Phan Trong Ngo: “In case-based teaching method, lecturer provide learners a teaching case. Learners explore, analyze, and take action within that specific case. As a result, learners gain science knowledge, altitude, and action skills (intellectual and practical skills) after solving the given case” [7; 24]. Therefore, it is understood that: the case-based teaching method is a teaching method organized by associating lesson contents with practical situations. Learners explore, analyze, and take action in the case, and through that, gain science knowledge, altitude, and action skills after solving the given situation. With this method, lecturer introduces a problem to the students, and then clearly shows them the conceptual or practical benefits of solving the problem, while letting them to acknowledge intellectual difficulties due to lack of necessary knowledge. However, this lack of knowledge can be overcome with some cognitive efforts. Characteristics of case-based teaching are listed below: Firstly, lecturers need to generate cognitive conflict, introduce items that the students are not aware of or need to explore. They will find new knowledge, skills, and methods during their search for solutions. Secondly, teachers draw initial attention and base on that to stimulate interest which creates the need for awareness, starting the cognitive progress students. Students will start to accept objective conflict into subjective conflict. Thirdly, the presented cases and problems must be clear and suitable to students’ capability. From familiar, normal and known knowledge to new knowledge (target goal), students will feel that they are capable of solving the problems. Case-based teaching method is one of important requirements of innovating teaching content and method. Case-based teaching method is one of modern teaching methods, or active teaching method. Therefore, this teaching method requires a lecturer to have broad knowledge, both in theory and in practice. 2.1.2. Advantages and limitations of case-based teaching method * Advantages of case-based teaching method Being an active teaching method, case-based teaching method offers the following 139 Le Bao Ngoc, Pham Viet Thang advantages: Firstly, case-based teaching helps learners to improve their independent and creative thinking ability in which they are put into a scenario that requires them to make decision in order to deal with the situation, and they must completely apply their thinking ability, combining with their own available knowledge to support their viewpoint. Besides, case-based teaching also helps learners to share knowledge and experiences with each other; and to learn ideas, viewpoints, and information from other learners to enrich their knowledge base. Secondly, case-based teaching helps learners to practise some basic skills such as teamwork, discussion, and presentation skills. These are essential skills for learners to be successful in their future. Learning by dealing with the situation helps learners to easily recognize the advantages and limitations within themselves, especially when they always have a favorable environment to compare with other learners during the process of dealing with the situation. Consequently, they will have the opportunities to learn teamwork, discussion, and presentation skills from other learners. Thirdly, case-based teaching helps learners to possess life-time research and learning abilities, and to strengthen their ability of self-direction in learning, suitable to the needs and preferences of each individual learner. Fourthly, case-based teaching increases learners’ interest with the subjects. Within this teaching method, learners are active in searching for knowledge and in determining which knowledge is needed to be explored and learnt. Discussion also stimulates leaners to actively participate in exploring the issues that they need to research, in finding solution, and in discussing and explaining scientific issues to support their viewpoints. Fifthly, a lecturer, under the role of “coordinators” in a classroom, can base on a case to guide and share knowledge and experiences with students, while they can also learn new experiences, information, and solutions from their students to enrich their knowledge base and lessons, especially when learning from students with fast and creative thinking. Throughout the process of guiding students to explore the cases, the lecturer can also discover unreasonable and incorrect items in the case, and adjust the case content to be more appropriate. * Limitations of case-based teaching method A part from these above advantages, the case-based teaching method owns some disadvantages: Firstly, if the lecturer do not have experiences in coordinating and leading discussion about the case, there exists risks of coming up with bad results that are unexpected by the case writer/editor, especially in classes with students at different levels and coming from different regions. Secondly, in real life, there are many learners who are not familiar with the case-based teaching method. They do not have the teamwork skills, and they are inactive, dependent, and uncooperative. Thirdly, case-based teaching requires a lot of time from learners. With the same amount of knowledge, case-based teaching requires more time for discussion, arguments, presentation, and role-play etc. Therefore, organizing the class, assigning time amount, raising questions, organizing and encouraging learners for discussion, leading the discussion, making comments, making counter-arguments etc. are all significant challenges for lecturers in the process of applying this method. 140 Applying case-based teaching method in current teaching of political theory subjects for students 2.2. Teaching case categories and the need to apply case-based teaching method in teaching Political theory 2.2.1. Types of teaching cases Based on the approach, cases can be divided into different types. According to Phan Trong Ngo, there are two types of cases [6]: - Factual cases: These are teaching cases that can be selected by lecturer from real life situations such as: typical situations in medicine, manufacturing, engineering, and literature etc. - Fictional cases: These are teaching cases that were possibly created by educators. In case of fictional situation, the lecturer need to rely on the development history of scientific fields to “restore” paths and conditions, and events that established the scientific knowledge that needs to be taught. This process is called contextualization, periodization, and personalization of scientific knowledge. In a different approach, Boehrer J. divided cases into six basic types with relatively different characteristics and conducting methods [7, 19]. - Large case (detailed case): This type of cases is normally used in Economics and Laws subjects. They focus on what decisions were made, who made the decisions, and how those decisions affected different social classes, parties, and components of the society. The cases with this type can be written up to more than one hundred pages. The learners would read the complete situation (often individually) and prepare an analysis of possible decisions that can be made. The case will then be discussed among the class in large groups, under the lecturer’s coordination. It is possible that cases can be discussed in one class section or multiple sections, or even during the entire course. - Descriptive case: This type of case is normally used in teaching medicine and normally has no clear boundary between right or wrong answers. The cases under this type can be possibly written up to five pages in which each page includes several paragraphs. This type of case is normally introduced for discussion within several class sections. If discussed in multiple sections, then at each section, the case is presented to the students in different aspects, and the lecturer play the role of guiding and asking students to explain and prove their ideas. The students will first work in small groups to analyze and break down the case to specify known facts and unknown factors. They propose theories as well as goals to explore, regarding to each part of the case. Between classes, students will need to research information to analyze and solve the case; the purpose of class section will be mentioned after the case is solved and discussed. According to this method, the students are highly active and they are not constrained with any group of questions. - Small case: This is a type of short cases that can be presented within one or two paragraphs. This type of case can be used in different situations. It is mainly designed for use within one class section and thus, its content is relatively condensed and concise. It can be used for the lecturer to introduce a lesson, or to help students to apply theory into practice, or can simply be a short activity before or after the class to “actualize” the theory content that was taught. - Direct case: In this method, the case can be long or short; however, there will be direct questions immediately after the situation to guide students to solve the problem. - Nuclear case: This type of cases only includes two or three sentences intended to deliver the simplest content. This type of case is mainly to stimulate interest and introduce the lesson. - Choice case: This type of case is similar to a multiple choice question type, but it also has specific context and situation. Students’ task is to select the most appropriate method to solve the case, among four-five suggested options. This type of case is not only used in tests, but also 141 Le Bao Ngoc, Pham Viet Thang can be used in discussion. In the discussion, each group must discuss and select a solution, and be ready to defend their group’s theoretical points and selection. In really, they should not debate on “Which is the best type of case?” because there is no optimal case for every situation. Depending on each different situation, lecturer and students can select the most appropriate case for their class section. 2.2.2. Requirements for applying case-based teaching method in teaching Political theory For Political theory subjects, the central goal is to provide learners with basic perception about Marxism – Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought; research of the comprehensive leadership policy of the Communist Party, identification of regularity issues of Vietnam revolution and Vietnam working class, in order to improve ideology perception; build trust in Communist Party’s leadership and guidance during the learning process; train leaners to become the new workers with stable political quality, ethics and working capabilities, who will contribute to the success of Industrialization and Modernization cause of the country. This is the learning subject of social and political knowledge which includes not only theory with high level of abstraction and generalization, but also in-depth level of practical use. As a result, this is a difficult subject for students with abstract theory. Therefore, the case-based teaching is considered to be an active and appropriate teaching method which explores leaners’s practical experiences and knowledge base. The process of case solving will help learners to create the habits of planned and serious work, to improve honesty and courage to defend their viewpoints, and to improve independence and creativity in their study and research. This case-solving process will also help students to learn how to collaborate with each other to accomplish a joined work, to evaluate logic and viewpoints of others and of their own as well, and to build critical thinking. On the other hand, case processing also supports students to perceive and solve a highly abstract and generalized problem in front of the group, eliminating their own disadvantages such as timidity, speaking without basis, and lack of thinking etc. Besides, use of case-based teaching method also enables lecturer to receive quick feedback of students’ level of subject knowledge, and to discover inappropriate opinions and vague understanding of the Communist Party leadership policy, in order to timely guide education of ideology. Therefore, it is possible to say that case-based teaching method actually played a certain role in the system of Teaching Methods within the universities. It is an important tool to improve the quality of teaching in general and the quality of Political theory subjects in particular. 2.3. Principles in applying case-solving method in teaching Political theory subjects - Ensuring subject goal and content Teaching goal is an element to guide and specify teaching content and method. Therefore, selection of cases must meet certain teaching goals. In other hand, case content must include knowledge of political education. The cases must be appropriate with lesson content. By the way, the cases can properly guide teaching and learning. It is important to note that a single case can be used multiple times with additional details to extend related knowledge scope for students to research. Each time, the extended knowledge must be suitable for the lesson’s progress. - Ensuring political and ideology education For Political theory subjects, the central goal is to provide students with basic perception 142 Applying case-based teaching method in current teaching of political theory subjects for students of Marxism – Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought; and comprehensive leadership policy of the Communist Party etc. in order to improve ideology perception; build trust in Communist Party leadership and guidance during the learning process; train students to become the new workers with stable political virtue, who will contribute to the success of Industrialization and Modernization cause of the country. On that basis, design of case must also ensure to deliver content and ideology educating students to have stable political perception and the right world outlook and the right outlook on life. - Ensuring practicality This principle specifies close and practical relationship between the knowledge in the textbook and practical life. The developed cases must closely follow actual situations in manufacturing, economics, politics, and society. If the case is fictional, it will be built to simulate real life, making students believe that they are experiencing a real event and an event that is completely possible in real life in order to stimulate their interest for problem solving and well perform their role-play to solve the problem. Through solving cases, students are provided with basic knowledge to be able to easily confront and adapt to real life situations. - Building the cases in open direction To promote creative thinking and to increase attraction and variety of ways to process case, the case must be built in open direction. It means that students must find the most suitable and attractive way to solve the case. These cases cannot be built before the scenario in case solving which is the continuous association of each student participating in solving a particular case. - Ensuring attractiveness and students’ creativity The purpose of case-based teaching is to stimulate learning interest and creativity of students. Therefore, the designed case must be attractive, lively, friendly, and must arouse students’ interest, in order to develop students’ thinking skills and support them in solving problems in their study. The teaching case can become a tool, condition, and motivation to promote and stimulate active learning altitude of students by analyzing, processing, and solving problems in t
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