Case Studies

October 23, 2006

"Dissin’ the Prof - From Dilemmas in Teaching"
Facilitated by Bobbi Fox and Kathy Grove

Diversity as a value in higher education brings with it some tricky problems. In this case, a professor is confronted by an ambitious African-American woman who expects university standards to accommodate her life circumstances. Communication is complicated by the student’s open disrespect for the professor and the professor’s alleged racist attitude.

October 9, 2006

"Cross-cultural Encounters: Negotiating Differences in the Classroom"
Created by James Gentile and Jeanine DeRusha
Facilitated by C.K. Pai and Donna DeMarco


A college instructor randomly assigns students into groups to work on a project culminating in a written report and group presentation. The group will be assigned a common grade for each project. After working together several weeks, students from one group approach the instructor with their concerns about working with a non-native speaker. Her portion of the written document contains many grammatical errors and they are afraid her speaking skills will affect their oral presentation. How can this instructor address their concerns? And, how can she determine a fair group grade at the end of the semester?

September 25, 2006

"Too Much Thinking"
Facilitated by Jeanine DeRusha and James Gentile

A student who had passed earlier developmental classes in reading and writing plans to withdraw from a critical writing and thinking course, explaining to her instructor that the course is simply too difficult. Learning that the student is also struggling through her mathematics classes, the instructor questions how and even whether he can help this student develop better critical thinking skills.

April 25, 2006

"Faltering Steps under the Americans with Disabilities Act"
Facilitators: Sandy Jenkins, Eileen Furey, and Joe Navarra

An instructor's feelings swing from anger to compassion to frustration when trying to meet ADA requirements for a student. Issues such as course syllabus, make-up examinations, and incomplete grading will be discussed. This case is being offered by the CFT to provide the campus an opportunity to discuss these multiple issues especially during Diversity Week. from Dilemmas in Teaching

March 27, 2006

"Facing the Reality of Students' Preparation and Research Skills"
Facilitators: C. K. Pai and Sonja Gayles

A communications professor and a university librarian join forces to develop a challenging assignment for a first-year mass communications course. Both are disappointed by students' perception of the assignment as too demanding; they worry that students are unprepared for college-level research and are unwilling to make up the deficit by working hard. from Dilemmas in Teaching

March 13, 2006

"Grade Expectations: What's 'Average' Work?"
Facilitators: Jeanine DeRusha and James Gentile

What does a grade of "C" represent? What does an "A"? In this case, students question the rigorous standards of an instructor who insists "anyone can earn an A . . . if [he or she is] willing to work hard enough to reach true excellence." How can we clearly establish and communicate grading standards to students? How can we address their questions and concerns?

February 27, 2006

"Group Cases: One Professor's Dilemma"
Facilitators: Kathy Grove and Donna Demarco

An instructor randomly assigns students into groups to work on case studies throughout the semester. This project would allow the instructor to realize the objectives of the course which included team work, cooperative learning, and solving unstructured problems. He did not realize that participation in the group would itself prove an opportunity for unstructured problems! As problems arose among group members, especially in terms of the inequitable participation of all members, the instructor was challenged to consider how responsible his students should be in addressing these issues as well as how pervasive his own role should be within the groups. What are the challenges of coordinating collaborative activities? How do students view such work?

November 21, 2005

"Teaching Semantics: Euphemisms, Taboos, and Obscenities"
Facilitators: Jeanine DeRusha and James Gentile

A student complains about a linguistics lesson on the subject of "euphemisms, taboos, and obscenities" during which all three were discussed and illustrated. The dean asks the professor to develop strategies for teaching such material that will not offend students. What happens when we broach subjects or introduce texts which some students might view as offensive? What are the boundaries of academic freedom?

November 7, 2005

"Special Circumstances"
Facilitators: Barbara Fox and C.K. Pai

A professor develops a class plan with a clearly identified schedule which she outlines at the start of the semester. As the semester progresses, a student discovers that conflicts prevent him from participating fully and thus he meets the instructor to see if any accommodations are possible.

October 24, 2005

"Technology Blows a Fuse"
Facilitators: Donna DeMarco and Kathy Grove

A professor finds she is increasingly using technology to conference with students. A student's observation that those with access to computers at home are performing better in the class forces the instructor to explore how technology is impacting student learning and success.

Last Update: October 06 2009
For additional information, contact: Len Dupille