Preparing Special Education Teacher Candidates: Extending Case Method to Practice

Aug. 15, 2010

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, 33 no3, p. 248-256 (August, 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Case methodology is receiving more recognition in the field of education as a viable pedagogy for use in the preparation of future educators.

In this article, the authors explore two examples of case method instruction that extend beyond university classrooms to field sites: case report and case study.
Both examples were used in special education teacher preparation graduate courses.

A case report example is provided to illustrate the methodology used to prepare teacher candidates to teach students with severe and multiple disabilities; the second example illustrates the use of a case study to prepare candidates to teach students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Each example describes the process and content of the case requirement, along with descriptions of candidate outcomes and assessment of the case method learning.


The benefits to using case method instruction are numerous.
In addition to developing collaborative skills that are vital in the profession, cases provide opportunities for rich discussion and feedback. These future special educators understand the concepts of the cases, which facilitates alternative understandings of conceptions that in many instances lead to changed assumptions.
The combination of collaborative and independent activities required for successful completion of the case-based activities allows the instructors to assess candidate performance on many levels.
Finally, an unforeseen benefit to using cases in the special education courses is the development of candidate dispositions toward the special education profession and meeting the individual needs of students with disabilities.
The authors conclude that they found the case-based methods described here to be invaluable in bridging the gap from the university classroom to the school-based classroom, providing rich, authentic, and unique experiences that mirror the requirements of today's special education teachers.

Updated: Jan. 23, 2011