Sample Scenarios

The scenarios below illustrate some of the most common situations students find themselves in with regards to plagiarism, academic integrity, and misuse of sources. Clicking on any scenario below will reveal a short analysis that connects that scenario to the general principles and best practices detailed elsewhere on this site.

The analysis provided here reflects the most common rules and practices in academic coursework, but it’s possible that a given instructor might approach similar situations differently in their courses. Therefore, you should keep the most fundamental lesson of this site in mind as you read these scenarios: The specific rules governing plagiarism and the use of sources vary from one situation to the next. As a student, it’s your responsibility to know your instructors’ expectations regarding the use of sources, and to ask for clarification any time you’re uncertain.

1. General Use of Sources

Scenario 1.1: a student in a literature course is working on an analysis of the depiction of gender in shakespeare’s king lear . the student has some difficulty getting started, so they go to a website that offers “sample essays,” and read several essays that analyze king lear in a variety of different ways. when the student proceeds to write their paper, they include several points and observations they read in the sample essays. in retrospect, the student can’t recall which ideas came from which sample essay, and everything is written in the student’s own words, so they decide not to cite the sample essays in the final draft of the essay..

Analysis: This student has committed plagiarism.

Though it’s entirely possible that this student had perfectly innocent intentions when they chose to review sample essays on the topic they intended to write about, in the end they knowingly submitted a paper in which part of the intellectual work was done by someone else, and they didn’t cite these sources to make that contribution visible. It doesn’t matter that the student put the ideas from the sample essays into their own words; the fact remains that the student took credit for someone else’s ideas, and that’s plagiarism.

Scenario 1.2: Students in a Math class are assigned to complete a certain number of problems out of the textbook for each class session. One week, a student is working on their homework the night before it’s due, and they get stuck on a problem halfway through. Since it’s too late to go to the Math Skills Center or even to ask a classmate for help, the student finds a site online that posts solutions to problems in college textbooks. Using this site, the student is able to see a solved version of the problem they were stuck on, and this allows them to figure out what they were doing wrong. It’s now very late, and the student feels that they have achieved the purpose of this minor homework assignment (i.e. they now understand the core concept behind these problems). So, the student copies the solutions for all the remaining homework problems. The next day in class, they submit the problem set to their instructor, as usual.

Analysis: This student has most likely committed plagiarism.

This student took credit for someone else’s intellectual efforts: they did not solve the homework problems themselves, but they led their instructor to believe that they had. This student may feel that they learned what they were meant to learn from the exercise, but that doesn’t entitle them to commit academic dishonesty or to circumvent part of the work that will determine their course grade.

Furthermore, it’s irrelevant that the assignment in question was “just” a routine homework assignment, since the principles that define plagiarism apply just as much to small-scale assignments as they do to large essays and projects. Any time you present someone else’s intellectual labor as your own, you commit plagiarism, and you risk the penalties associated with plagiarism, regardless of the value of the assignment.

The only way this would be acceptable would be if the student’s instructor explicitly told students that it was okay to consult answer sets for their homework. As we note many times on this site, different instructors have different standards, and sometimes instructors genuinely don’t care if students receive this kind of assistance on homework assignments. You should never assume this, though.

Scenario 1.3: A student in an Educational Studies class is working on a literature review summarizing different approaches to cultivating diversity in higher education. The student happened to write an essay on this subject in a previous class, and so they copy the majority of their previous essay into a new document, modify a few details to fit the current assignment, and submit it to their instructor without mentioning that most of the text came from a previously completed essay.

Analysis: This student has almost certainly committed plagiarism. 

It doesn’t matter that the text was originally written by this student, because it does not represent the student’s intellectual work for this assignment. By submitting work that was originally written for a previous course, the student has defeated the purpose of the current assignment—to learn more about the approaches to diversity in higher ed.The only way this reuse of old writing would be acceptable would be if the student received explicit approval from their instructor before they submitted the assignment. Instructors will sometimes allow this kind of repurposing, but students should never assume that this is acceptable and do it without asking the instructor.

2. Citations and Paraphrasing

View specific examples of correct and incorrect ways to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and cite sources.

3. Collaboration

Scenario 3.1: students in a sociology class are assigned to write short weekly papers in response to the course reading. these papers are individually written, but two students in the class, student o and student p, get together each week to discuss the readings and brainstorm ideas. one week, student o falls behind on the reading, and so they ask student p to summarize it for them and describe what they plan to write their response paper about. student o writes their own paper based on this conversation, which allows them to skip the reading for that week and catch up on their other homework..

Analysis: Student O has definitely committed plagiarism, and Student P may have committed an academic integrity violation as well.

It wasn’t necessarily wrong for these students to meet outside of class to discuss the reading and share ideas about their essays, as long as both students were contributing ideas equally and making an effort to write papers that reflected their own ideas and work.

In this case, though, Student O used Student P’s work in place of their own. It doesn’t matter that Student P technically hadn’t written the essay yet or that the ideas Student M used came out of an oral conversation, not a written text. The fact is that Student O wrote an essay based on Student P’s reading and ideas but presented it as their own work, and that’s plagiarism.

Furthermore, if Student P knowingly helped Student O to claim credit for work they didn’t do, then Student P also committed an academic integrity violation and could face penalties as well. In effect, this would be no different than allowing Student O to copy their answers on an exam.

Scenario 3.2: Students in a Psychology class are tasked with creating an experimental design. This is a group assignment, and students are allowed to form their own groups outside of class. Three of them, Student A, Student B, and Student C, decide to work together and agree to meet in the library to work out their design. While this group is meeting, Student D, who is also in the class, comes by and joins the group’s conversation. Over the next hour, Student D contributes several ideas to the group’s design. However, Student D has already completed the assignment with another group, so when Students A, B, and C turn in their assignment the next day, they only put their own names on it and do not mention Student D.

Students A, B, and C have committed an academic integrity violation, and Student D probably has as well.

It’s entirely possible that Students A, B, and C didn’t think they were doing anything wrong here–after all, they didn’t invite Student D to join their group; Student D just happened to see them in the library and join their conversation. However, the students’ intentions don’t change the facts of the situation. Student D contributed to their project, and by turning in the assignment without acknowledging Student D’s contribution, Students A, B, and C took credit for Student D’s work.

Furthermore, if Student D knew that his classmates intended to submit their assignment without acknowledging their assistance, then Student D has also committed an academic integrity violation. They may have seen this as nothing more than a friendly conversation between classmates, but as soon as it became clear that Students A, B, and C were actually working on an assignment, Student D should have left, or Students A, B, and C should have asked Student D to leave so they could complete the assignment on their own.

Scenario 3.3: Three students in a Classics course, Student L, Student M, and Student N, are completing a collaborative essay on Silk Road trading in the Fourth Century. Each student writes a section of the essay, which they compile on a Google Doc and revise together. For their section, Student L copies several paragraphs from an online article, which they paste into their work without citing their source or informing Student M or Student N. Once all three group members have uploaded their sections, the group members revise and edit the essay together and submit it to their instructor. The assignment did not require the student to indicate which of them wrote which sections, so the entire assignment is submitted under all three students’ names.

Analysis: Student L has definitely committed plagiarism. Student M and Student N have also committed plagiarism, even though they didn’t intend to.

The issue with Student L is obvious–by taking text from another author without crediting it, they presented someone else’s work as their own.

Student M and Student N are in a more complicated position. Strictly speaking, they didn’t know that part of Student L’s section was written by someone else, and thus they did not knowingly commit plagiarism. Nevertheless, they did technically take credit for someone else’s work by submitting an assignment that was partially plagiarized. This means that, at the very least, Student M and Student N might be called upon to prove that they didn’t know what Student L was doing, which might be difficult if Student L isn’t willing to take full responsibility for their actions. If they couldn’t prove their innocence, it’s possible that Student M and Student N would face the same consequences as Student L.

As this scenario illustrates, it’s important for every member of a group to keep track of how sources are used throughout a project and to make sure their group members are maintaining academic honesty. When you put your name on an assignment and submit it, you take responsibility for the entire content of that paper, even the parts that were written by your collaborators.

Scenario 3.4: Four students in a Biology class are assigned to gather experimental data and write a collaborative lab report. One of the students, Student J, does very little work in the lab, mostly watching while his group members run the experiment and record the data. When it comes time to write the lab report, Student J agrees to write the methods section, but when the deadline that the group sets for themselves rolls around, Student J only has a vague outline completed. Not wanting the assignment to be late, the other students in the group complete the methods section themselves. The group revises and edits the whole document together, though Student J doesn’t contribute significantly to this process, either. When the report is complete, the group submits to the instructor with all group members credited equally.

Analysis: Student J did not treat their group members fairly, but they probably did not commit plagiarism.

In a collaborative project, it’s ultimately the collaborators’ responsibility to divide the labor up in a way that everyone can live with. When people don’t fulfill their assigned duties, the responsibility falls on the other group members to deal with that as well. If the students in this group felt that Student J wasn’t doing their share of the work, they should have found a way to take that up with Student J directly or asked their instructor to step in. Either way, though, they would need to address this before they turned in the final version of the document. Since they didn’t do that, and since Student J did contribute something to the final project (no matter how slight that contribution may have been), then it’s not technically plagiarism for Student J to claim credit for the assignment alongside their group members. 

There is one important qualification to this, though. Sometimes, when instructors assign group projects, they will explicitly stipulate how much work each group member must do (e.g. “each student is responsible for writing one section of the final document”), or they will require students to describe in detail what each group member contributed to the final product. If that were the case in this scenario, the students would be obligated to point out that Student J did not complete their portion of the work, and failure to do so would constitute academic dishonesty (though not technically plagiarism).

Scenario 3.5: Two students in a Psychology class are conducting an empirical investigation for a final paper/project, which the professor has agreed will be written jointly. Student A really enjoys statistics, so they volunteer to do all of the data analysis and write up the results section of the paper. Student B is less of a stats fan, so they volunteer to find and read more of the background literature and draft the introduction section of the paper. The students agree to both work on the method section and the discussion section together. Moreover, each one reads and comments on the other’s drafted sections before they turn in the final version of the paper together.

Analysis: These students have not committed plagiarism.

Since this was a collaborative assignment, there’s nothing inherently wrong with dividing up the labor according to each collaborator’s interests and abilities. In professional scholarship, collaborative papers are typically written in just this way, and as long as each student does some of the writing and has the opportunity to comment/edit all sections, this is a perfectly fine way to approach the project.

Scenario 3.6: A student in a Geology course is working on a lab report. The assignment calls for an extensive Discussion section in which the student is expected to choose a few articles from the course reading and connect them to the data from their experiment. The student has never written this kind of report before, and isn’t sure what articles they should use or how they should cite them. Fortunately, one of their roommates took the same course the previous year and completed the same assignment. With the roommate’s permission, the student reads over their roommate’s Discussion section. When the student writes their own report, they cite the exact same sources that their roommate used, but they connect them to their results in their own words.

This student has committed plagiarism, and the student’s roommate has probably committed an academic integrity violation as well.

Choosing and citing secondary sources was part of the intellectual work for this assignment. In this case, though, the student used their roommate’s lab report as a kind of map, which allowed them to avoid this part of the assignment by simply using the sources that the roommate had already chosen. Thus, the student used their roommate’s intellectual work, but presented it as their own.

Furthermore, by providing their old lab report for the student to use, the roommate enabled the student to commit plagiarism, which is also an academic integrity violation. There are many ways the roommate could have helped this student without doing part of their work for them; providing the student with a completed version oof the very assignment they were working on was not an appropriate form of assistance.

4. Using Code

Scenario 4.1: a student is working on their final project in a computer science course and encounters a coding problem that they’re not sure how to solve. after a bit of internet research, the student finds a solution to the question on the student copies the solution into their program without citation and submits it to the instructor..

Analysis: This student may have committed plagiarism.

As we noted elsewhere in this guide, the rules for when you can use and how you should cite code written by someone else vary significantly, depending on the course and the assignment. The short answer is that, just to be safe, you should always treat code as an outside source that needs to be cited, unless your instructor explicitly says otherwise

Scenario 4.2: Another student in a Computer Science class is working on their final coding project for the term. The student has been struggling all term, and they don’t believe they’ll be able to complete the project on time. Desperate, they go to a freelancing site and use the assignment guidelines to write a job ad for a freelance programmer. Receiving a quick response, the student hires a freelancer to complete the project for them, then submits the freelancer’s program as their own.

Analysis: Desperate or not, this student has certainly committed plagiarism.

Not much analysis should be required here–hiring someone else to do your college coursework for you is the very definition of an academic integrity violation. The noteworthy thing about this case is the feeling of desperation that drove the student to such a poor decision. 

It’s worth remembering that we often make our worst errors in judgment when we’re under significant pressure, since pressure and anxiety make it easier to convince ourselves that we have no better alternatives. In reality, though, this student might face much more significant penalties than failing a single class, possibly including suspension or expulsion.

A much better alternative would be for the student to discuss their problems in the course with their professor and/or an academic counselor or class dean. If the student was really that far behind, it’s possible that none of these people will be able to help the student get the grade they want in this class, but they might be able to help the student assess their situation more rationally and find a viable path for success in future terms.

5. Data, Charts, and Visual Resources

Scenario 5.1: while writing her comps paper, a student finds a graph in an article they are reading that perfectly captures an important idea in their literature review. the student “snips” the graph and pastes it into their paper, citing the source in the note section below the graph..

Analysis: This student has not technically committed plagiarism, but their use of another scholar’s graph is problematic.

For professional scholarship in most disciplines, a graph is generally viewed as too large a contribution to “quote,” even with attribution, without the author/copyright holder’s written consent. Since graphs and data visualizations represent the culmination of a significant amount of intellectual labor, using someone else’s graph is, in effect, the same as quoting several pages of another author’s text: even if you give the original author their due credit, you’re simply using too much of their work to do so without asking the author directly.

However, in some departments at Carleton, it is acceptable to use a graph in your comps project with the understanding that comps is a work in progress. The time available for you to complete your project is simply too short for you to ask authors individually for permission to reproduce their graphs, and so your department might accept a project with a reproduced draft (assuming you clearly cited the original author). But this practice isn’t acceptable in every department, and it’s not always acceptable outside of a comps project. So, once again, the best practice is to ask your instructor or advisor what practices you’re expected to follow.

Scenario 5.2: A student in a lab course makes a mistake in their procedure that invalidates all the data they gathered from an experiment. The student quickly realizes what they did wrong and how the experiment should have gone. Not wanting to write a lab report based on flawed data, the student copies the data from a friend in another lab section, whose experiment went the way it should have. Using this data, the student writes their own lab report and submits it.

It’s easy to see, from the student’s point of view, why this might have seemed acceptable. After all, the student knows what their data “should” have looked like, and they wrote the lab report themselves, even if the data they used wasn’t technically from their own experiment. However, this logic only holds if the student assumes that the purpose of the assignment was to get the “right” result and that the intellectual work involved in running the experiment and recording the data don’t count. 

This is not the case, though. Running the experiment was part of the assignment, and it was the student’s responsibility to record their own data accurately and analyze their own results, whatever they may be. Thus, by using someone else’s data, this student took credit for someone else’s work and defeated the purpose of the assignment.

Scenario 5.3: A student in another lab course is running an experiment that requires them to monitor a reaction and record data every fifteen minutes. The student also has a Calculus exam coming up, and so they use the time between recordings to study. As the lab goes on, the student gets distracted by their Calculus and forgets to record several data points. Since the data is fairly linear and the experiment otherwise went as expected, the student can easily calculate what the results should have been at each of the points they skipped. Using these calculations, the student fills in the missing data and submits their lab report.

Analysis: This student has not technically plagiarized, but they have committed an academic integrity violation.

The term plagiarism doesn’t apply to this scenario, since the student is not taking credit for another person’s work (or for their own work in a different course). However, the student is certainly taking credit for work they did not do . Their assigned task was to record a specific set of data points, but they failed to do that, and by presenting calculated results in place of observed data, they have misrepresented the extent to which they completed this assignment. This is an academic integrity violation, and the student could face significant penalties for it.

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Assignment writing guides and samples

If you're looking for useful guides for assignment writing and language skills check out our range of study skills resources

Essay writing

  • Writing essays [PDF 240KB] . Tips on writing a great essay, including developing an argument, structure and appropriate referencing. 
  • Sample essay [PDF 330KB] . A sample of an essay that includes an annotated structure for your reference.  

Writing a critical review

  • Writing a critical review [PDF 260KB] . Tips on writing a great critical review, including structure, format and key questions to address when writing a review. 
  • Sample critical review [PDF 260KB] . A sample of a critical review that includes an annotated structure for your reference.  

Writing a business-style report

  • Writing a business-style report [PDF 330KB] . A resource for business and law students Find out how to write and format business-style reports.
  • Sample of a business-style report [PDF 376 KB] . A resource for business and law students. A sample of a business-style report with an annotated format.  

Investigative report sample

  • Sample of an investigative report [PDF 500KB] . A resource for science, engineering and technology students. How to write an investigative report, including an annotated format.  

Assignment topics and editing

  • Interpreting assignment topics [PDF 370 KB] . Find out how to interpret an assignment topic, including understanding key words and concepts. 
  • How to edit your work [PDF 189KB] . A guide for all students about how to edit and review their work.   

Language skills

  • Building your word power (expanding your knowledge of words) [PDF 306KB]. A guide to expanding your knowledge of words and communicating your ideas in more interesting ways.
  • Handy grammar hints [PDF 217KB] .  A guide to getting grammar and style right in your assignments.

Resources relevant to your study area

Science, engineering and technology.

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  • Sample critical review [PDF 260KB] . A sample of a critical review that includes an annotated structure for your reference. 
  • Sample of an investigative report [PDF 500KB] . A resource for science, engineering and technology students. How to write an investigative report, including an annotated format. 
  • How to edit your work [PDF 189KB] . A guide for all students about how to edit and review their work.  
  • Building your word power (expanding your knowledge of words) [PDF 306KB]. A guide to expanding your knowledge of words and communicating your ideas in more interesting ways. 
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  • Sample critical review [PDF 260KB]. A sample of a critical review that includes an annotated structure for your reference. 
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Business and Law

  • Sample essay [PDF 330KB]. A sample of an essay that includes an annotated structure for your reference. 
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  • Sample of a business-style report [PDF 376 KB]. A resource for business and law students. A sample of a business-style report, with an annotated format. 
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5 Scenario Examples to Engage Learners and Build Confidence

Senior Strategist

by Kathleen Matyas, Senior Strategist

Feb. 8, 2022 / Learning-experience design

assignment scenario examples

Think back to the last time you learned a new skill. How much of your preparation came from simply reading training materials? How much of it came from trying it out for yourself and learning by doing?

Learning is a process , and the application and reflection phases are key to cultivating prepared, confident learners. But it’s not always realistic, or even safe, to teach new skills in the actual environments in which they’re applicable.

That’s where scenario based training comes in. Scenario-based learning is an interactive instructional strategy that uses real-life situations and narratives to actively engage learners. It’s hard to beat the engagement quotient of scenarios, and they’re a proven strategy for boosting learning outcomes. Think about your own approach to scenarios. Are you making the most of scenario-based learning?

We love using scenarios in our learning experiences—they’re a great solution for all kinds of industries and learning objectives. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite scenario based training examples to inspire you to take your learning even further. Let’s take a look at five scenario examples and how they elevated the learning experience.

1. Scenario example for safety and emergency procedures

Need to train team members on how to keep themselves and others safe? Telling them what to do in an emergency or crisis situation usually isn’t enough. People often learn best by doing, but how can you put their safety and emergency procedure skills to the test without putting them or others at risk?

Scenario-based learning is a great way to immerse learners in a realistic yet controlled environment where they can practice skills, play out different situations, and build their confidence. When a crisis occurs in actuality, they’re better prepared to respond without making critical mistakes.

Barton Health safety training

Barton Health needed to train team members on Fire Safety, Medical Equipment Safety, and Radiation Safety. Rather than create a standard compliance course that simply tells the learner how to behave safely, we created an interactive experience where they could identify and manage risks in a simulated healthcare environment.

In this learning experience, users are introduced to a realistic situation at the Barton Health campus: an electrical issue is causing problems in key areas of the hospital. They must make a series of decisions to prevent damage to the building and its equipment by stabilizing two key rooms in the building: the Operating Room and the MRI Room. Each room in the scenario is depicted by illustrations.

In the Operating Room, the learner is prompted to review the fire safety procedures and then identify the items in the room that are fire hazards (while the clock is ticking!). If they identify all items in the room before time runs out, they’ve successfully stabilized the Operating Room and can move on to the MRI Room. If they run out of time, they restart the room and try again. That’s the beauty of a scenario—failing is risk-free and you learn from the consequences.

Before moving on to the MRI Room, the learner is instructed to select the items on their person that need to be removed—all metal objects need to be removed before entering. They then need to select the MRI Technician to gain approval for entry.

Once in, they’re told that the machine is malfunctioning and are challenged with taking the proper steps to safely resolve the situation. If the user completes the required steps in the right order and before the clock runs out, they’ve stabilized the room and won the game. If not, they’re back to the beginning to give it another try.

Like all good scenarios, these scenario examples focus on application. Learning with context often yields much better outcomes, especially when the stakes are high. Setting your scenario in a simulated real-world environment makes it that much more memorable and relatable for learners.

2. Scenario example for social media conduct training

Global brands almost always have a strong presence across social media platforms, and even something as simple as liking a post on social media can have an enormous effect on the business they do.

Scenarios can help team members feel confident about what they can and can’t post on social media, whether they’re representing the brand or on their personal accounts. You could equip team members with a lengthy social media handbook and trust that they’ll review and retain it on their own—but learning by doing is a better way to translate those practices into real-world situations.

Here’s an example of a scenario for sharing smart social media practices with employees.

Social media best practices training

We partnered with a global hospitality brand to create a social media best practices training that would empower team members to maximize their engagement on social media and avoid unanticipated negative outcomes.

We designed scenario-based training that would inform team members of the brand’s social media best practices and give them an opportunity to practice their knowledge in a low-stakes simulated environment. We created two Articulate Rise modules that explained principles and policies and three Articulate Storyline modules that allowed learners to practice and demonstrate their mastery of the content through challenging and realistic scenarios.

To accomplish this, we replicated the experience of a social media platform. Learners interacted with the modules by liking, commenting on, or sharing posts—the same way they would on social media—and then learned from the immediate consequences of their actions.

Learners began each lesson by adding their name and favorite brand, and these items were featured throughout the training to increase the personalization of the training. As the training progressed, learners navigated complex branching scenarios, with the option to repeat scenarios and choose different responses to understand the downstream impacts of their choices.

3. 3D scenario for lab safety training

Safety is top priority in lab settings—is sharing a handbook with employees enough? Often, safety training is stickier when you give learners the chance to apply safety protocols in a realistic yet safe simulated environment.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use scenario learning to build confidence around lab safety.

Cubist lab safety training

Cubist needed to train employees on how to identify hazards and address them in the appropriate manner. Instead of having learners simply read up on the potential hazards and proper responses, we created an Articulate Storyline course with 3D-rendered cut-scenes that required the learner to apply their knowledge in a simulated lab environment.

Here’s how it works. Learners enter a biology lab and move their cursor over any object or area where they observe a possible safety hazard, selecting anything they believe to be unsafe. If something is in fact unsafe, learners are given several options and choose the best way to correct it. Each option has feedback so they can learn more about each hazard and how to respond. Once they’ve identified and corrected all five hazards, they move on to the chemistry lab to repeat the exercise, with an emphasis on chemical safety.

This is one of our favorite scenario based elearning examples because it requires learners to go beyond acquiring knowledge and apply what they’ve learned. Plus, the 3D renderings in this scenario help to create a true-to-life representation of the lab and actual issues that learners might find themselves facing on the job.

4. Gamified scenario for exploring career paths

If your top priorities are to motivate and engage learners, try incorporating gamification into your scenario. Gamification uses elements like characters, narrative, and rewards to help immerse learners and capture their interest .

Let’s take a look at an example of a scenario that uses gamification to inspire employees to envision their future career paths.

CSL developing people game

CSL is one of the largest and fastest-growing biotechnology businesses and a leading provider of in-licensed vaccines. CSL came to us looking for a thoughtful eLearning solution that would inspire its workforce to imagine their career paths and the many ways in which they can expand their skill sets and grow their careers within CSL.

We decided to take a unique, gamified approach with a choose-your-own-adventure style game that gets users to explore options for their long-term career path at CSL, based on their perceived strengths, skill sets, and goals. Once we determined the paths and events along their journey, we designed characters, events, and player interactions.

Users start by selecting where they are in their CSL journey. From there, they engage in a 10–15 minute experience, making decisions on interactive career pathways that help them travel through their career lifecycle and visualize their future with CSL. The experience served a global, virtual audience of 27,000 employees and required us to conduct a thorough exploration of roles and pathways within CSL.

The outcome? We were able to leverage gamified scenario learning to immerse learners in a positive vision of their futures with CSL and inspire them to start taking steps to make it a reality.

5. Scenario example for explaining complex processes

Product flow is complicated. In order to get it right, learners need to visualize how goods will move from supplier to consumer and all of the small decisions along the way that impact the journey. When it comes to simplifying complex processes, video-based scenario training is a great way to show and not tell and allow learners to think through real-world decisions.

Take a look at one example for using live videos in a scenario.

Product distribution onboarding

As part of onboarding, business analysts and buyers at a regional grocery store chain needed to understand the overall product flow from distribution facility to store. This brand believes in investing in its talent, and they often promote from within. That means people entering these roles are often more junior employees with little experience in distribution facility operations.

It’s a complex undertaking, and it’s critical for new hires to understand how the decisions they make from HQ directly impact the overall product flow. The decisions they make influence which products are available to customers in-store, which ultimately impacts the customer’s overall experience. Those are high stakes, and we knew it would take an immersive and engaging learning experience to help train the company’s BAs and buyers for success.

For this training, we created live-action videos to depict three unique scenarios. Our goal was to show learners how a product moves from distribution to stores and provide examples of critical decisions they’ll face to make the process run more smoothly. We made sure the videos seamlessly represented the store, the distribution facility, and HQ in order to visually show how each one impacts the other.

Nobody likes watching boring videos, so we took a fun and cheeky approach to these scenarios. We used actual company employees as actors (plus some Maestro team members!) to set up three situations, then prompting the learner to choose the best approach to resolve the problem. After the learner makes a decision, a summary video shows the outcome of all three presented options, highlighting which approach is best and why.

Especially when a learner is new to a role, it’s challenging to see the full scope of your decisions and influence. These video-based learning scenarios helped learners to transcend their environment and think beyond the walls of HQ. The training helped them see the big picture and explore why seemingly viable approaches might not be the best choice after all.

Scenarios prepare learners for success

For learning to be effective and really change the way we think and act, it needs to account for the way our brains process and absorb new information. These scenario examples serve as inspiration to show what’s possible in eLearning. Scenario-based learning is powerful: learners can practice their skills, learn from the consequences, and repeat the exercise until they get it right.

There are more scenario examples where that came from.

Our gamified approach to bartender training for Royal Caribbean earned a Brandon Hall Gold Award.

Training the next generation of crypto traders

Our experiential, consumer-grade crypto learning academy is designed to deliver a comprehensive introduction to crypto trading for OKX’s 20 million users.

VetBloom A blockchain-based credentialing platform for veterinary specialties

Acist medical systems lifelike 3d product training to guide service techs on the job, best western hotels & resorts helping transform brand culture with fresh, energizing ilt.

  • The Simplest Way to Avoid the Research Fail of the Yellow Walkman
  • 5 Sets of Tried-and-True Resources for Instructional Designers
  • Are You Skipping the Validation Step? Why Piloting Your Learning Matters

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Assessment by Case Studies and Scenarios

Case studies depict real-life situations in which problems need to be solved. Scenario-based teaching may be similar to case studies, or may be oriented toward developing communication or teamwork skills. Both case studies and scenarios are commonly used methods of problem-based learning. Typically, using these methods, teachers aim to develop student reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Case studies differ from role plays in that in the former, learning takes place largely through discussion and analysis, whereas in the latter, students assume a character or role and "act out" what that character would do in the scenario (The Teaching Gateway page Assessing with Role Plays and Simulations contains more information on using role plays for assessments.) Like role plays and simulations, case studies and scenarios aim for authenticity:  allowing students to get a sense of the situations they might face in the real world upon graduation. Students can see how their learning and skills can be applied in a real-world situation, without the pressure of being actually involved in that situation with the associated constraints on research, discussion and reflection time.

Case studies and scenarios are particularly useful when they present situations are complex and solutions are uncertain. Ideally, their complexity requires group members to draw from and share their experiences, work together, and learn by doing to understand and help solve the case-study problem.

You can present a single case to several groups in a class and require each group to offer its solutions, or you can give a different case to each group or individual.

Case studies' effectiveness comes from their abiliity to:

  • engage students in research and reflective discussion
  • encourage clinical and professional reasoning in a safe environment
  • encourage higher-order thinking
  • facilitate creative problem solving and the application of different problem-solving theories without risk to third parties or projects
  • allow students to develop realistic solutions to complex problems
  • develop students' ability to identify and distinguish between critical and extraneous factors
  • enable students to apply previously acquired skills
  • allow students to learn from one another
  • provide an effective simulated learning environment
  • encourage practical reasoning
  • allow you to assess individuals or teams.

You can use case studies to bridge the gap between teacher-centred lectures and pure problem-based learning. They leave room for you to guide students directly, while the scenarios themselves suggest how students should operate, and provide parameters for their work.

Although some students have reported greater satisfaction with simulations as learning tools than with case studies (Maamari & El-Nakla, 2023), case studies generally require less up-front preparation time, and can be less intimidating for students.

To make case studies an effective form of assessment, instructors and tutors need to be familiar with their use in both teaching and assessment. This applies whether teachers are developing the case studies for their courses themselves or using those developed by others.

Case studies reach their highest effectiveness as a teaching and assessment tool when they are authentic; ensuring that case studies accurately reflect the circumstances in which a student will eventually be practising professionally can require a considerable amount of research, as well as the potential involvement of industry professionals.

Students may need scaffolding as they learn how to problem-solve in the context of case studies; using case studies as low-stakes, formative assessments can prepare them for summative assessment by case study at the end of the course.

Learning outcomes, course outlines, and marking rubrics need to be entirely clear about how case studies will be used in the course and how students will be expected to demonstrate their learning through thee way they analyse and problem-solve in the context of case studies.

Assessment preparation

Typically, the product assessed after case study or scenario work is a verbal presentation or a written submission. Decide who will take part in the assessment: the tutor, an industry specialist, a panel, peer groups or students themselves by self-evaluation? Choose whether to give a class or group mark or to assess individual performance; and whether to assess the product yourself or have it assessed by peers.

Assessment strategies

You can assess students’ interaction with other members of a group by asking open-ended questions, and setting tasks that require teamwork and sharing resources.

Assess the process of analysis

Case studies allow you to assess a student’s demonstration of deeper understanding and cognitive skills as they address the case.  These skills include, for example:

  • identification of a problem
  • hypotheses generation
  • construction of an enquiry plan
  • interpretation of findings
  • investigation of results collected for evidence to refine a hypothesis and construction of a management plan.

During the problem-solving process, you can also observe and evaluate:

  • quality of research
  • structural issues in written material
  • organisation of arguments
  • feasibility of solutions presented
  • intra-group dynamics
  • evidence of consideration of all case factors
  • multiple resolutions of the same scenario issue.

Use a variety of questions in case analysis

The Questioning page discusses in detail various ways to use questions in teaching . If your students are using the Harvard Business School case study method for their analysis, use a range of question types to enable the class to move through the stages of analysis:

  • clarification/information seeking ( What? )
  • analysis/diagnosis ( Why? )
  • conclusion/recommendation ( What now? )
  • implementation ( How? ) and
  • application/reflection ( So what? What does it mean to you?)

Use technology

Learning-management systems such as Moodle can help you track contributions to case discussions . You can assess students' interactions with other members of a group by viewing their responses to open-ended questions or observing their teamwork and sharing of resources as part of the discussion.  You can incorporate the use of various tools in these systems, or others such as Survey Monkey, into students' assessment of their peers, or of their group members' contribution to exploring and presenting case studies. You can also set this peer assessment up so that it takes place anonymously.

Assessing by Case Studies: UNSW examples

These videos show examples of how UNSW faculty have implemented case studies in their own courses.

  • Boston University. Using Case Studies to Teach
  • Columbia University. Case Method Teaching and Learning
  • Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College. Starting Point: What is Investigative Case-Based Learning?

Maamari, B. E., & El-Nakla, D. (2023). From case studies to experiential learning. Is simulation an effective tool for student assessment? Arab Economic and Business Journal, 15(1), Article 2.

Merret, C. (2020). Using case studies and build projects as authentic assessments in cornerstone courses. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education , 50 (1), 20-50.

Porzecanski, A. L., Bravo, A., Groom, M. J., Dávalos, L. M., Bynum, N., Abraham, B. J., Cigliano, J. A., Griffiths, C., Stokes, D. L., Cawthorn, M., Fernandez, D. S., Freeman,  L., Leslie, T., Theodose, T., Vogler, D., & Sterling, E. J. (2021). Using case studies to improve the critical thinking skills of undergraduate conservation biology students. Case Studies in the Environment , 5 (1), 1536396.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that he or she will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove her point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, he or she still has to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and she already knows everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality she or he expects.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

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Do Your Students Know How to Analyze a Case—Really?

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  • Case Teaching
  • Student Engagement

J ust as actors, athletes, and musicians spend thousands of hours practicing their craft, business students benefit from practicing their critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Students, however, often have limited exposure to real-world problem-solving scenarios; they need more opportunities to practice tackling tough business problems and deciding on—and executing—the best solutions.

To ensure students have ample opportunity to develop these critical-thinking and decision-making skills, we believe business faculty should shift from teaching mostly principles and ideas to mostly applications and practices. And in doing so, they should emphasize the case method, which simulates real-world management challenges and opportunities for students.

To help educators facilitate this shift and help students get the most out of case-based learning, we have developed a framework for analyzing cases. We call it PACADI (Problem, Alternatives, Criteria, Analysis, Decision, Implementation); it can improve learning outcomes by helping students better solve and analyze business problems, make decisions, and develop and implement strategy. Here, we’ll explain why we developed this framework, how it works, and what makes it an effective learning tool.

The Case for Cases: Helping Students Think Critically

Business students must develop critical-thinking and analytical skills, which are essential to their ability to make good decisions in functional areas such as marketing, finance, operations, and information technology, as well as to understand the relationships among these functions. For example, the decisions a marketing manager must make include strategic planning (segments, products, and channels); execution (digital messaging, media, branding, budgets, and pricing); and operations (integrated communications and technologies), as well as how to implement decisions across functional areas.

Faculty can use many types of cases to help students develop these skills. These include the prototypical “paper cases”; live cases , which feature guest lecturers such as entrepreneurs or corporate leaders and on-site visits; and multimedia cases , which immerse students into real situations. Most cases feature an explicit or implicit decision that a protagonist—whether it is an individual, a group, or an organization—must make.

For students new to learning by the case method—and even for those with case experience—some common issues can emerge; these issues can sometimes be a barrier for educators looking to ensure the best possible outcomes in their case classrooms. Unsure of how to dig into case analysis on their own, students may turn to the internet or rely on former students for “answers” to assigned cases. Or, when assigned to provide answers to assignment questions in teams, students might take a divide-and-conquer approach but not take the time to regroup and provide answers that are consistent with one other.

To help address these issues, which we commonly experienced in our classes, we wanted to provide our students with a more structured approach for how they analyze cases—and to really think about making decisions from the protagonists’ point of view. We developed the PACADI framework to address this need.

PACADI: A Six-Step Decision-Making Approach

The PACADI framework is a six-step decision-making approach that can be used in lieu of traditional end-of-case questions. It offers a structured, integrated, and iterative process that requires students to analyze case information, apply business concepts to derive valuable insights, and develop recommendations based on these insights.

Prior to beginning a PACADI assessment, which we’ll outline here, students should first prepare a two-paragraph summary—a situation analysis—that highlights the key case facts. Then, we task students with providing a five-page PACADI case analysis (excluding appendices) based on the following six steps.

Step 1: Problem definition. What is the major challenge, problem, opportunity, or decision that has to be made? If there is more than one problem, choose the most important one. Often when solving the key problem, other issues will surface and be addressed. The problem statement may be framed as a question; for example, How can brand X improve market share among millennials in Canada? Usually the problem statement has to be re-written several times during the analysis of a case as students peel back the layers of symptoms or causation.

Step 2: Alternatives. Identify in detail the strategic alternatives to address the problem; three to five options generally work best. Alternatives should be mutually exclusive, realistic, creative, and feasible given the constraints of the situation. Doing nothing or delaying the decision to a later date are not considered acceptable alternatives.

Step 3: Criteria. What are the key decision criteria that will guide decision-making? In a marketing course, for example, these may include relevant marketing criteria such as segmentation, positioning, advertising and sales, distribution, and pricing. Financial criteria useful in evaluating the alternatives should be included—for example, income statement variables, customer lifetime value, payback, etc. Students must discuss their rationale for selecting the decision criteria and the weights and importance for each factor.

Step 4: Analysis. Provide an in-depth analysis of each alternative based on the criteria chosen in step three. Decision tables using criteria as columns and alternatives as rows can be helpful. The pros and cons of the various choices as well as the short- and long-term implications of each may be evaluated. Best, worst, and most likely scenarios can also be insightful.

Step 5: Decision. Students propose their solution to the problem. This decision is justified based on an in-depth analysis. Explain why the recommendation made is the best fit for the criteria.

Step 6: Implementation plan. Sound business decisions may fail due to poor execution. To enhance the likeliness of a successful project outcome, students describe the key steps (activities) to implement the recommendation, timetable, projected costs, expected competitive reaction, success metrics, and risks in the plan.

“Students note that using the PACADI framework yields ‘aha moments’—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.”

PACADI’s Benefits: Meaningfully and Thoughtfully Applying Business Concepts

The PACADI framework covers all of the major elements of business decision-making, including implementation, which is often overlooked. By stepping through the whole framework, students apply relevant business concepts and solve management problems via a systematic, comprehensive approach; they’re far less likely to surface piecemeal responses.

As students explore each part of the framework, they may realize that they need to make changes to a previous step. For instance, when working on implementation, students may realize that the alternative they selected cannot be executed or will not be profitable, and thus need to rethink their decision. Or, they may discover that the criteria need to be revised since the list of decision factors they identified is incomplete (for example, the factors may explain key marketing concerns but fail to address relevant financial considerations) or is unrealistic (for example, they suggest a 25 percent increase in revenues without proposing an increased promotional budget).

In addition, the PACADI framework can be used alongside quantitative assignments, in-class exercises, and business and management simulations. The structured, multi-step decision framework encourages careful and sequential analysis to solve business problems. Incorporating PACADI as an overarching decision-making method across different projects will ultimately help students achieve desired learning outcomes. As a practical “beyond-the-classroom” tool, the PACADI framework is not a contrived course assignment; it reflects the decision-making approach that managers, executives, and entrepreneurs exercise daily. Case analysis introduces students to the real-world process of making business decisions quickly and correctly, often with limited information. This framework supplies an organized and disciplined process that students can readily defend in writing and in class discussions.

PACADI in Action: An Example

Here’s an example of how students used the PACADI framework for a recent case analysis on CVS, a large North American drugstore chain.

The CVS Prescription for Customer Value*


Summary Response

How should CVS Health evolve from the “drugstore of your neighborhood” to the “drugstore of your future”?


A1. Kaizen (continuous improvement)

A2. Product development

A3. Market development

A4. Personalization (micro-targeting)

Criteria (include weights)

C1. Customer value: service, quality, image, and price (40%)

C2. Customer obsession (20%)

C3. Growth through related businesses (20%)

C4. Customer retention and customer lifetime value (20%)

Each alternative was analyzed by each criterion using a Customer Value Assessment Tool

Alternative 4 (A4): Personalization was selected. This is operationalized via: segmentation—move toward segment-of-1 marketing; geodemographics and lifestyle emphasis; predictive data analysis; relationship marketing; people, principles, and supply chain management; and exceptional customer service.


Partner with leading medical school

Curbside pick-up

Pet pharmacy

E-newsletter for customers and employees

Employee incentive program

CVS beauty days

Expand to Latin America and Caribbean

Healthier/happier corner

Holiday toy drives/community outreach

*Source: A. Weinstein, Y. Rodriguez, K. Sims, R. Vergara, “The CVS Prescription for Superior Customer Value—A Case Study,” Back to the Future: Revisiting the Foundations of Marketing from Society for Marketing Advances, West Palm Beach, FL (November 2, 2018).

Results of Using the PACADI Framework

When faculty members at our respective institutions at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington have used the PACADI framework, our classes have been more structured and engaging. Students vigorously debate each element of their decision and note that this framework yields an “aha moment”—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.

These lively discussions enhance individual and collective learning. As one external metric of this improvement, we have observed a 2.5 percent increase in student case grade performance at NSU since this framework was introduced.

Tips to Get Started

The PACADI approach works well in in-person, online, and hybrid courses. This is particularly important as more universities have moved to remote learning options. Because students have varied educational and cultural backgrounds, work experience, and familiarity with case analysis, we recommend that faculty members have students work on their first case using this new framework in small teams (two or three students). Additional analyses should then be solo efforts.

To use PACADI effectively in your classroom, we suggest the following:

Advise your students that your course will stress critical thinking and decision-making skills, not just course concepts and theory.

Use a varied mix of case studies. As marketing professors, we often address consumer and business markets; goods, services, and digital commerce; domestic and global business; and small and large companies in a single MBA course.

As a starting point, provide a short explanation (about 20 to 30 minutes) of the PACADI framework with a focus on the conceptual elements. You can deliver this face to face or through videoconferencing.

Give students an opportunity to practice the case analysis methodology via an ungraded sample case study. Designate groups of five to seven students to discuss the case and the six steps in breakout sessions (in class or via Zoom).

Ensure case analyses are weighted heavily as a grading component. We suggest 30–50 percent of the overall course grade.

Once cases are graded, debrief with the class on what they did right and areas needing improvement (30- to 40-minute in-person or Zoom session).

Encourage faculty teams that teach common courses to build appropriate instructional materials, grading rubrics, videos, sample cases, and teaching notes.

When selecting case studies, we have found that the best ones for PACADI analyses are about 15 pages long and revolve around a focal management decision. This length provides adequate depth yet is not protracted. Some of our tested and favorite marketing cases include Brand W , Hubspot , Kraft Foods Canada , TRSB(A) , and Whiskey & Cheddar .

Art Weinstein

Art Weinstein , Ph.D., is a professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has published more than 80 scholarly articles and papers and eight books on customer-focused marketing strategy. His latest book is Superior Customer Value—Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy . Dr. Weinstein has consulted for many leading technology and service companies.

Herbert V. Brotspies

Herbert V. Brotspies , D.B.A., is an adjunct professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University. He has over 30 years’ experience as a vice president in marketing, strategic planning, and acquisitions for Fortune 50 consumer products companies working in the United States and internationally. His research interests include return on marketing investment, consumer behavior, business-to-business strategy, and strategic planning.

John T. Gironda

John T. Gironda , Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research has been published in Industrial Marketing Management, Psychology & Marketing , and Journal of Marketing Management . He has also presented at major marketing conferences including the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing Science, and Society for Marketing Advances.

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Scenario-Based Learning in Higher Ed

  • Storytelling & Scenarios

Scenario-based learning and storytelling can be used a number of ways in higher ed, such as authentic assessment or student-created stories.

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While I mostly write about workplace training, scenario-based learning can also be used in colleges and universities. In fact, I’ve created and seen several good examples of storytelling and scenario-based learning in higher ed.

Scenario-Based Learning in Higher Ed

Authentic assessment

My first ID job was with an online university targeting nontraditional students. They focused on “authentic assessment.” Rather than traditional academic essays and exams, we used simulated work products for assessment. After all, if you’re getting a marketing degree, what’s more valuable–writing an essay or creating a PowerPoint presentation? Those assignments used scenarios to provide context for the work. In some courses, I threaded a single scenario through the whole course, tying multiple assignments back to aspects of that overarching story.

Authentic assessment example

For example, in this social psychology course, students were placed in the role of Director of Operations. Through the course, they helped various departments and teams address specific challenges related to a concept of social psychology. Here’s one of the assignments for that course (trimmed down from the original full case). Instead of writing an essay on the effects of stress and environment on productivity, they made recommendations for solving problems.

The request from HR

The company’s Director of Human Resources, Anevay Woods, has asked you for your opinion concerning a department that seems to have had a turn for the worse. 

Six months ago, the Information Technology department was leading the company in terms of customer service and productivity. 

However, in the last two months, things have gone terribly wrong.  Hardware and software problems are not being addressed in a timely manner, and absenteeism is up and still rising.  Productivity and innovation have decreased.  Many personal and interpersonal issues have been brought to the HR department for resolution.

Woods wants to begin letting some people go and hiring new employees with the “right” attitude.  He’s asked for your opinion before taking this action.

And not a moment too soon…

Possible root causes

You remember something that happened to this department in the recent past.  Based on the increasingly important role that the IT Department has played for your company, construction began on a new building nearby. The entire department was moved into temporary buildings located on the grounds of the corporate office.

It’s likely that the temporary building provides less than ideal working conditions. You recall (from your studies in social and organizational psychology) that temperature, noise, crowding, light levels, the frustration-aggression response, and other issues can impact individuals in organizations in negative ways. You believe that the environment is the most likely source of the problem, not the individuals in the department.

Based on this new interpretation of the causes of this problem, you set forth to create a memo for your Director of Human Resources that will explain the difficulties in greater detail.  Specifically, you set forth to create a 2-3 page report that explains the following points:

  • Definition of current problem
  • Potential causes of that problem
  • Ways in which you might address solving the problem

Branching Scenarios

Angry student expression and happy student expression. An example of scenario-based learning in higher ed

I have created some limited branching scenarios for higher ed courses. The example above was from a course on how to teach online. In this activity, students practiced handling student objections. The student reacts differently depending on how the instructor responds to their complaint. The look and feel of these is a little dated now, but the structure of a series of mini-scenarios is still a solid option for many skills.

Scenario-based discussion questions

In online higher ed courses, discussion forums are a key form of interaction. For in person courses, class discussion can be a way to engage students. Either way, short scenarios can make for more valuable discussion questions.

Give students a scenario (or a few to choose from) and ask them how they’d respond. Scenario prompts for discussions often generate deeper conversations than simple questions.

Consider providing a choice of multiple scenarios makes the discussion less repetitive (a plus for grading as well as for students).

Group activities

I’ve used scenarios with group work too. For example, in one of my older courses for teachers, each group had a different scenario problem to solve related to privacy and social media. One scenario involved high school Spanish students who posted videos of their work on YouTube but received a rude comment. Another scenario involved middle school students who received a request from a teacher in another state to use part of a presentation they posted online. Each group worked together to create a plan of how to respond to the scenario. Scenarios like this can work especially well if your audience has different goals or needs. High school teachers can be grouped together for a high school scenario, while elementary teachers are grouped together for a separate scenario. In a business course, you might have different scenarios for managers and non-managers.

Student-created stories

One really interesting idea for scenario-based learning in higher ed is having students write stories themselves.

I’ve seen this implemented in a course on psychological development over a lifetime. Each week of the course focused on a different time of life, starting from before birth and continuing through aging and death. Every week, the students wrote part of a profile of an imaginary person for that development time, explaining how different factors affected their development (e.g., if their person’s mother drank while pregnant, that affected brain development; if the child had poor nutrition, that affected development).

A number of the students initially resisted that assignment because it really pushed them out of their comfort zones. They said they “weren’t creative writers” or didn’t know how to tell stories. However, by the end of the course, the feedback was very positive. The students had crafted some compelling narratives that helped them connect all the concepts from the course.

Tell me your story

Tell me your own story. Have you seen storytelling used in higher education? Do you have a great example of using technology for digital storytelling, or even of a low-tech story in a classroom? Let me know in the comments or by replying to this email.

Originally published 10/25/2016. Updated 9/3/2021   Save

3 thoughts on “ Scenario-Based Learning in Higher Ed ”

We need more of this for higher ed EMPLOYEES, as well, including in health, safety, clinical… Important topics! Alas, it is difficult to challenge the subject experts. Mostly, the old guard considers any change to their course ‘design’ is threatening their baby. There’s too little appreciation for the expertise of instructional designers and professional training program developers.

Yes, employees in higher ed are in a bit of an odd spot, between the “higher ed” space and “workplace training.” What they often need is workplace training tied to the skills for their jobs, but with a higher ed context.

I have seen some great scenario-based training for university employees. I worked on some professional development training for advisors that used an overall frame story with a conversation between two characters plus small vignettes about helping individual students with issues. The overarching frame story gave the whole series a sense of continuity, and the smaller vignettes provided a lot of opportunity for troubleshooting different types of problems.

However, we were able to do that as an association providing CEUs. If that team had been internal to a particular university, I’m not sure if we would have been able to take that scenario-based approach.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
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  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
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  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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Training design – Cathy Moore

13 Scenario-based Training & Learning Examples (2023)

Training design – Cathy Moore

13 scenario-based training examples (2023)

Branching scenarios help people practice doing what they do on the job and learn from the consequences. Here are several examples from scenario-based training to give you ideas..

The inclusion of an activity on this page doesn't mean, "Hey, you should do exactly this!" I chose these examples because they raise questions that will help you think more deeply about your own scenario design.

1: Steer the client in the right direction

Example scenario for handling client meeting

By Cathy Moore , developed in Twine Carla wants you to create a course about a personality inventory. She says the course will help managers be more empathetic. She's already created a slide deck, so it should be easy!

This project will be another time-wasting information dump unless you steer Carla in a better direction. Try the scenario .

Chapter 3 of my book describes how to start projects right by encouraging clients to analyze the performance problem, not just throw training at it. This scenario helps you practice a small part of that skill.

Questions to consider: This scenario isn't meant to stand alone. It's a small part of the Partner from the Start toolkit. It's preceded and followed by many more activities, all designed to help you practice starting a project right with a client like Carla.

However, it's common for designers to create just one activity for each skill. For example, they present some tips and then have learners practice with one scenario.

How effective would this activity be if it were the only practice you had for managing the handoff conversation? If you used just this scenario, would you be able to manage your next handoff meeting with significantly better results?

2: Connect with Haji Kamal

Army training scenario example

By Kinection with Cathy Moore, developed in Flash You’re a US Army sergeant in Afghanistan. Can you help a young lieutenant make a good impression on a Pashtun leader? That’s the challenge behind “Connect with Haji Kamal.” See a video of the activity and learn how it was designed .

This activity is a small part of larger training. It was designed to stimulate discussion in a live session. Soldiers completed the activity the night before a classroom session.

Questions to consider: What kind of feedback does the activity provide? Why didn't we just tell players what they were doing right or wrong? Why did we include two helpers who don't agree?

3: Hana Feels

Screenshot from Hana Feels

By Gavin Inglis , developed in Twine Something is bothering young Hana. Can you figure out what it is and find the best way to help her? You choose what several people say, including a crisis line volunteer, Hana's boss, and a friend. Play it here .

Questions to consider: You don't choose everything that each person says. Instead, you pick a statement that might send the conversation down a different path, and the author fills in the rest of the conversation. How could you apply this to soft skills training, such as an activity on handling a difficult conversation? Or is it better to require the player to choose every statement their character says?

4: Sales simulation with audio

Sales simulation from Elucidat

By Elucidat You sell video editing software, and you know that Leon might need your software. Is he really a good prospect? Try the activity .

Questions to consider:  The activity encourages you to review some basic information before the call, but it's not required. What does this tell you about how the designers view your intelligence? Does that affect your motivation?

You're given only two choices at each point. Does that feel like enough? Would the activity be more challenging with more options, or would the additional choices feel like a burden?

At each decision point, you get instant corrective feedback. How does that affect the "feel" of the simulation? Does it matter?

For the audio, the developers used an actor who sounded natural. Often, voice actors sound like they're reading a script. What made the actor sound more natural? How could you coach a voice actor to sound this way?

5: Costas is HIV positive

Scenario example for diagnosing a problem

Developed as part of the WAVES Network   You've discovered that your patient, Costas, is HIV positive. He doesn't want to tell his wife. What can you do? Try the scenario .

Questions to consider: The scenario has an "old school" look. Many designers invest a lot of effort into making their activities look more slick. How important is a slick look? For example, did you need to see a photo of Costas in order to make your decisions? Did the look and feel of the activity affect your ability to be pulled into the story?

In my scenario design toolkit , I have participants go through a similarly "old school" scenario. Participants often say that they didn't need to see photos of the characters or other bells and whistles -- the story was compelling enough on its own. However, clients and learners may expect a higher level of production.

Your goal is apparently to get the best result for both Costas and his family. How difficult is it to reach that result? Did you want help or hints to make it easier?

6: Medical diagnosis scenario

Scenario example: Medical diagnosis

By SmartBuilder , developed in SmartBuilder Your patient has bruising and swelling on her face. What questions should you ask her to quickly make the right diagnosis? Try the scenario, which is "Patient Management" on this page .

Questions to consider: Compared to the previous medical scenario, this one is more "slick." How does the production style affect your learning? What are some arguments for investing in this level of production?

You'll diagnose the patient by asking questions. The scenario requires you to choose all your questions at once, before you can read the answer to any of them. The patient's answer to one question sometimes makes a question you chose earlier irrelevant.

Why might the designers have chosen this approach? Why don't they let you choose one question at a time and let the patient's response help determine the next question, as happens in the real-world exam? (My guess: Their approach requires less branching, but it means that the scenario isn't as realistic.)

7: Sexual harassment training scenario

Image from scenario-based training video

By Will Interactive You're a manager and need to respond to several situations that might affect the professionalism of the workplace. How should you respond? Try the demo .

Questions to consider: Why did the designers use video rather than text or text with images? What do they gain from video, and what potential problems does the format create?

Why did the designers give you only two options at most decision points? What would be the effect on your decision-making if you had three options instead? What type of feedback did you usually receive? Was it a natural consequence of your choice? Did this affect your motivation in any way?

8: Learn to speak Zeko

Screenshot of scenario example

By  Cathy Moore ; developed in  Twine You’re a journalist rushing to a hot story in Zekonia, but your guide doesn't speak English. Can you learn enough Zeko to follow his directions? Try the scenario

This experimental scenario shows one type of scaffolding: It structures the activity so people learn a bit at a time, building on previous knowledge. In contrast, the traditional approach would be to first present the basic Zeko words and have you memorize them, maybe as a flashcard game that translates from English to Zeko and back again. Only then would you be allowed into a story to "apply what you've learned."

Instead, I throw you directly into the activity. The activity itself teaches you the words, in context, one at a time. This avoids inefficient, in-the-head translation and gives your brain a stickier way to store the information, as visuals or scenes in a story. At least, that's the idea.

9: Set up the laptop technical training scenario

Sample activity for scenario-based training

By SmartBuilder , developed in SmartBuilder You need to help someone set up their laptop for a presentation that starts in a few minutes. Try the original Flash version of the activity , and compare it to the newer version under "Using Computer Ports" on their examples page .

Questions to consider: Why does the designer let you skip the "learn about the ports" section? In the new version of the activity, you have to drag the cable to the correct port. Is this better than just clicking on it? Finally, the new version uses photos that show stronger emotion. What is the effect of this?

10: Residential technician training

Sample from technical elearning

By Allen Interactions Can you find the problems with this equipment and choose the correct replacement? Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC technicians practice realistic tests and make decisions in this activity .

Questions to consider:  The challenges are preceded by cheerful text explanations. Are the explanations helpful? Could they be made more concise, or should they be left as they are? 

Instead of seeing the consequence of our decision, we're given corrective feedback, such as being told we chose the wrong motor. Why did the designers take this approach?

We don't know if the learners were also given references to use in the field. Do you think people will remember what they learned in the interaction, or should they have some job aids to take with them? What information in the activity could be turned into a job aid?

The description of the project doesn't include the business goal. What problems might this type of elearning help solve? How might we measure the success of this project?

11: At-Risk for High School Educators

Scenario example for challenging conversations

By Kognito You're a high school teacher. One of your students, Rene, has been seeming stressed and anxious, and one of her friends told you she might be cutting herself. Can you persuade Rene to go to the school counselor? Click "Access demo" on this page (registration required).

Questions to consider: Like "Hana Feels," this scenario has you choose the direction of the conversation, rather than making you choose everything you say. Unlike "Hana Feels," the designers have you choose your strategy first, such as "Make small talk," and then choose your statement. What's the effect of choosing the strategy first? Will it help you navigate similar conversations in real life?

Like most of the scenarios on this page, your main "feedback" is simply the next scene in the story. However, if you make a poor decision in this scenario, you might receive a hint that explains why Rene reacted as she did and what you might do differently. You might be encouraged to undo your previous choice and try again. Is this intrusive or helpful? Does this help you refine your strategy?

12: Weak example of a branching scenario

Example scenario for training designers

By Cathy Moore , developed in Mac Keynote and Hype Your client wants you to convert her content into an online course. Can you steer her away from that bad idea? Try this simplistic scenario that I created several years ago to test some ideas.

This is a weak scenario. Many scenarios I see are like this one -- the decisions are too easy and the stock photos unnecessary. The idea is solid, but because I spent so long sourcing graphics and building slides, I had little time to write a decent challenge. My slide-based tool (similar to PowerPoint) made extensive branching difficult, so I made the story too simple. For a more realistic scenario on the same topic, see the first example on this page.

13: Example of a "branching" scenario that doesn't branch

Screenshot of example scenario

I like to call this structure the "control freak" scenario. It works like this: You're presented with the first scene of a story and choose an option, let's say B. You see immediate feedback that tells you that you chose incorrectly, and that you should really do what's described in option A. The scenario sends you back to the same scene and this time you obediently choose A.

Now you see the second scene, and the process repeats. If you choose correctly, the story advances. If you choose incorrectly, you have to go back and do it right. There's usually plenty of feedback telling you what you did wrong and what you should do instead.

A lot of designers create this structure as their first scenario. It's easier to manage than full branching, and all the teacherly feedback feels familiar and "helpful." But do adults really learn best when they're constantly interrupted and corrected? How might the structure and feedback affect people's motivation?


Scenario design toolkit

Learn to design scenarios by designing scenarios, on the job. This self-paced toolkit walks you through all the steps, and interactive tools help you make the tricky decisions.


Build your performance consulting skills

Stop being an order taker and help your clients solve the real problem. The Partner from the Start toolkit helps you change how you talk to stakeholders, find the real causes of the problem, and determine what type of training (if any!) will help.

Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates

Instructors have many tasks to perform during the semester, including grading assignments and assessments. Feedback on performance is a critical factor in helping students improve and succeed. Grading rubrics can provide more consistent feedback for students and create efficiency for the instructor/grader.

A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the different criteria relevant to an assignment, assessment, or learning outcome and states the possible levels of achievement in a specific, clear, and objective way. Use rubrics to assess project-based student work, including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations. Rubrics are helpful for instructors because they can help them communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly and efficiently. Finally, rubrics can provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses so that they can reflect on their performance and work on areas that need improvement.

How to Get Started

Best practices, moodle how-to guides.

  • Workshop Recording (Fall 2022)
  • Workshop Registration

Step 1: Define the Purpose

The first step in the rubric-creation process is to define the purpose of the assignment or assessment for which you are creating a rubric. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • What is the assignment?
  • Does the assignment break down into different or smaller tasks?  
  • Are these tasks equally important as the main assignment?  
  • What are the learning objectives for the assignment?  
  • What do you want students to demonstrate through the completion of this assignment?
  • What would an excellent assignment look like?
  • How would you describe an acceptable assignment?  
  • How would you describe an assignment that falls below expectations?
  • What kind of feedback do you want to give students for their work?
  • Do you want/need to give them a grade? If so, do you want to give them a single overall grade or detailed feedback based on a variety of criteria?
  • Do you want to give students specific feedback that will help them improve their future work?

Step 2: Decide What Kind of Rubric You Will Use

Types of rubrics: holistic, analytic/descriptive, single-point

Holistic Rubric. A holistic rubric consists of a single scale with all the criteria to be included in the evaluation (such as clarity, organization, mechanics, etc.) being considered together. With a holistic rubric, the rater or grader assigns a single score (usually on a 1-4 or 1-6 point scale) based on an overall judgment of the student’s work. The rater matches an entire piece of student work to a single description on the scale.

Advantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Place an emphasis on what learners can demonstrate rather than what they cannot
  • Save time by minimizing the number of decisions to be made
  • Can be used consistently across raters, provided they have all been trained

Disadvantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Do not provide specific feedback for improvement
  • Can be difficult to choose a score when a student’s work is at varying levels across the criteria
  • Criteria cannot be weighted

Analytic/Descriptive Rubric . An analytic rubric resembles a grid with the criteria for an assignment listed in the left column and with levels of performance listed across the top row, often using numbers and/or descriptive tags. The cells within the center of the rubric may be left blank or may contain descriptions of what the specified criteria look like for each level of performance. When scoring with an analytic rubric, each of the criteria is scored individually.

Advantages of analytic rubrics:

  • Provide feedback on areas of strength or weakness
  • Each criterion can be weighted to reflect its relative importance

Disadvantages of analytic rubrics:

  • More time-consuming to create and use than a holistic rubric
  • May not be used consistently across raters unless the rubrics are well defined
  • May limit personalized feedback to help students improve

Single-Point Rubric . Similar to an analytic/descriptive rubric in that it breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria. The detailed performance descriptors are only for the level of proficiency. Feedback space is provided for instructors to give individualized comments to help students improve and/or show where they excelled beyond the proficiency descriptors.

Advantages of single-point rubrics:

  • Easier to create than an analytic/descriptive rubric
  • More likely that students will read the descriptors
  • Areas of concern and excellence are open-ended removes a focus on the grade/points
  • May increase student creativity in project-based assignments
  • Requires more work for instructors writing feedback

Step 3: Define the Criteria

Ask yourself: What knowledge and skills are required for the assignment/assessment? Make a list of these, group and label them, and eliminate any that are not critical.

  Helpful strategies for defining grading criteria:

  • Review the learning objectives for the course; use the assignment prompt, existing grading checklists, peer response sheets, comments on previous work, past examples of student work, etc.
  • Try describing A/B/C work.
  • Consider “sentence starters” with verbs describing student performance from Bloom’s Taxonomy  or other terms to indicate various levels of performance, i.e., presence to absence, complete to incomplete, many to some to none, major to minor, consistent to inconsistent, always to usually to sometimes to rarely
  • Collaborate with co-instructors, teaching assistants, and other colleagues
  • Brainstorm and discuss with students
  • Can they be observed and measured?
  • Are they important and essential?
  • Are they distinct from other criteria?
  • Are they phrased in precise, unambiguous language?
  • Revise the criteria as needed
  • Consider how you will weigh them in relation to each other

Step 4: Design the Rating Scale

Most ratings scales include between 3 and 5 levels. Consider the following questions:

  • Given what students are able to demonstrate in this assignment/assessment, what are the possible levels of achievement?
  • Will you use numbers or descriptive labels for these levels?
  • If you choose descriptive labels, what labels are most appropriate? Will you assign a number to those labels?
  • In what order will you list these levels — from lowest to highest or vice versa?

Step 5: Write Descriptions for Each Level of the Rating Scale

Create statements of expected performance at each level of the rubric. For an analytic rubric, do this for each particular criterion of the rubric. These descriptions help students understand your expectations and their performance in regard to those expectations.

Start with the top/exemplary work category –what does it look like when a student has achieved excellence in each category? Then look at the “bottom” category –what does it look like when students have not achieved the learning goals in any way? Then add the categories in between.

Also, take into consideration that well-written descriptions:

  • Describe observable and measurable behavior
  • Use parallel language across the scale
  • Indicate the degree to which the standards are met

Step 6: Create your Rubric

  • Develop the criteria, rating scale, and descriptions for each level of the rating scale into a rubric
  • Include the assignment at the top of the rubric, space permitting  
  • For reading and grading ease, limit the rubric to a single page, if possible
  • Consider the effectiveness of your rubric and revise accordingly
  • Create your rubric in a table or spreadsheet in Word, Google Docs, Sheets, etc., and then transfer it by typing it into Moodle. You can also use online tools to create the rubric, but you will still have to type the criteria, indicators, levels, etc., into Moodle. Rubric creators: Rubistar , iRubric

Step 7: Pilot-test your Rubric

Prior to implementing your rubric on a live course, obtain feedback from:

  • Teacher Assistants

Also, try out your new rubric on a sample of student work. After you pilot-test your rubric, analyze the results to consider its effectiveness and revise accordingly.

  • Use Parallel Language . Make sure that the language from column to column is similar and that syntax and wording correspond. Of course, the words will change for each section or assignment, as will the expectations, but in terms of readability, make sure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right or vice versa. In addition, if you have an indicator described in one category, it will need to be described in the next category, whether it is about “having included” or “not having included” something. This is all about clarity and transparency to students.
  • Use Student-Friendly Language . If students can’t understand the rubric, it will not be useful for guiding instruction, reflection, and assessment. If you want students to engage in using the rubric, they have to understand it. Make sure the language is learning-level appropriate. If you use academic language or concepts, you will need to teach those concepts.
  • Use the Rubric with Your Students . You have to use the rubric with the students. It means nothing to them if you don’t. For students to find the rubric useful in terms of their learning, they must see a reason for using it. Students should understand that the rubric is there to help them learn, reflect, and self-assess. If students use a rubric, they will understand the expectations and their relevance to learning.
  • Don’t Use Too Many Columns . The rubric needs to be comprehensible and organized. Pick the right amount of columns so that the criteria flow logically and naturally across levels.
  • Common Rubrics and Templates are Awesome . Avoid rubric fatigue, as in creating rubrics to the point where you just can’t do it anymore. This can be done with common rubrics that students see across multiple classroom activities and through creating templates that you can alter slightly as needed. Design those templates for learning targets or similar performance tasks in your classroom. It’s easy to change these types of rubrics later. Figure out your common practices and create a single rubric your team can use.
  • Rely on Descriptive Language. The most effective descriptions are those that use specific descriptions. This means avoiding words like “good” and “excellent.” At the same time, don’t rely on numbers, such as a number of resources, as your crutch. Instead of saying, “find excellent sources” or “use three sources,” focus your rubric language on the quality use of whatever sources students find and on the best possible way of aligning that data to the work. It isn’t about the number of sources, and “excellent” is too vague for students. Be specific and descriptive.

Example of an analytic rubric for a final paper

Example of a holistic rubric for a final paper, single-point rubric.

assignment scenario examples

  • Single Point Rubric Template ( variation )
  • Analytic Rubric Template make a copy to edit
  • A Rubric for Rubrics
  • Single Point Discussion Rubric
  • Mathematical Presentations Descriptive Rubric
  • Math Proof Assessment Rubric
  • Kansas State Sample Rubrics
  • Design Single Point Rubric

Technology Tools: Rubrics in Moodle

  • Moodle Docs: Rubrics
  • Moodle Docs: Grading Guide (use for single-point rubrics)

Supplemental Tools with Rubrics in Moodle

  • Google Assignments
  • Turnitin Assignments: Rubric or Grading Form
  • DELTA – Rubrics: Making Assignments Easier for You and Your Students (2/1/2022)
  • DePaul University (n.d.). Rubrics. Retrieved from
  • Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from
  • Goodrich, H. (1996). Understanding rubrics. Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, 54 (4), 14-17. Retrieved from
  • Miller, A. (2012). Tame the beast: tips for designing and using rubrics. Retrieved from
  • Ragupathi, K., Lee, A. (2020). Beyond Fairness and Consistency in Grading: The Role of Rubrics in Higher Education. In: Sanger, C., Gleason, N. (eds) Diversity and Inclusion in Global Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

Writing A Case Study

Case Study Examples

Barbara P

Brilliant Case Study Examples and Templates For Your Help

15 min read

Published on: Jun 26, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 16, 2023

Case Study Examples

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It’s no surprise that writing a case study is one of the most challenging academic tasks for students. You’re definitely not alone here!

Most people don't realize that there are specific guidelines to follow when writing a case study. If you don't know where to start, it's easy to get overwhelmed and give up before you even begin.

Don't worry! Let us help you out!

We've collected over 25 free case study examples with solutions just for you. These samples with solutions will help you win over your panel and score high marks on your case studies.

So, what are you waiting for? Let's dive in and learn the secrets to writing a successful case study.

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What is a Case Study?

A case study is a research method used to study a particular individual, group, or situation in depth. It involves analyzing and interpreting data from a variety of sources to gain insight into the subject being studied. 

Case studies are often used in psychology, business, and education to explore complicated problems and find solutions. They usually have detailed descriptions of the subject, background info, and an analysis of the main issues.

The goal of a case study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Typically, case studies can be divided into three parts, challenges, solutions, and results. 

Here is a case study sample PDF so you can have a clearer understanding of what a case study actually is:

Case Study Sample PDF

How to Write a Case Study Examples

Learn how to write a case study with the help of our comprehensive case study guide.

Case Study Examples for Students

Quite often, students are asked to present case studies in their academic journeys. The reason instructors assign case studies is for students to sharpen their critical analysis skills, understand how companies make profits, etc.

Below are some case study examples in research, suitable for students:

Case Study Example in Software Engineering

Qualitative Research Case Study Sample

Software Quality Assurance Case Study

Social Work Case Study Example

Ethical Case Study

Case Study Example PDF

These examples can guide you on how to structure and format your own case studies.

Struggling with formatting your case study? Check this case study format guide and perfect your document’s structure today.

Business Case Study Examples

A business case study examines a business’s specific challenge or goal and how it should be solved. Business case studies usually focus on several details related to the initial challenge and proposed solution. 

To help you out, here are some samples so you can create case studies that are related to businesses: 

Here are some more business case study examples:

Business Case Studies PDF

Business Case Studies Example

Typically, a business case study discovers one of your customer's stories and how you solved a problem for them. It allows your prospects to see how your solutions address their needs. 

Medical Case Study Examples

Medical case studies are an essential part of medical education. They help students to understand how to diagnose and treat patients. 

Here are some medical case study examples to help you.

Medical Case Study Example

Nursing Case Study Example

Want to understand the various types of case studies? Check out our types of case study blog to select the perfect type.

Psychology Case Study Examples 

Case studies are a great way of investigating individuals with psychological abnormalities. This is why it is a very common assignment in psychology courses. 

By examining all the aspects of your subject’s life, you discover the possible causes of exhibiting such behavior. 

For your help, here are some interesting psychology case study examples:

Psychology Case Study Example

Mental Health Case Study Example

Sales Case Study Examples

Case studies are important tools for sales teams’ performance improvement. By examining sales successes, teams can gain insights into effective strategies and create action plans to employ similar tactics.

By researching case studies of successful sales campaigns, sales teams can more accurately identify challenges and develop solutions.

Sales Case Study Example

Interview Case Study Examples

Interview case studies provide businesses with invaluable information. This data allows them to make informed decisions related to certain markets or subjects.

Interview Case Study Example

Marketing Case Study Examples

Marketing case studies are real-life stories that showcase how a business solves a problem. They typically discuss how a business achieves a goal using a specific marketing strategy or tactic.

They typically describe a challenge faced by a business, the solution implemented, and the results achieved.

This is a short sample marketing case study for you to get an idea of what an actual marketing case study looks like.

 Here are some more popular marketing studies that show how companies use case studies as a means of marketing and promotion:

“Chevrolet Discover the Unexpected” by Carol H. Williams

This case study explores Chevrolet's “ DTU Journalism Fellows ” program. The case study uses the initials “DTU” to generate interest and encourage readers to learn more. 

Multiple types of media, such as images and videos, are used to explain the challenges faced. The case study concludes with an overview of the achievements that were met.

Key points from the case study include:

  • Using a well-known brand name in the title can create interest.
  • Combining different media types, such as headings, images, and videos, can help engage readers and make the content more memorable.
  • Providing a summary of the key achievements at the end of the case study can help readers better understand the project's impact.

“The Met” by Fantasy

“ The Met ” by Fantasy is a fictional redesign of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, created by the design studio Fantasy. The case study clearly and simply showcases the museum's website redesign.

The Met emphasizes the website’s features and interface by showcasing each section of the interface individually, allowing the readers to concentrate on the significant elements.

For those who prefer text, each feature includes an objective description. The case study also includes a “Contact Us” call-to-action at the bottom of the page, inviting visitors to contact the company.

Key points from this “The Met” include:

  • Keeping the case study simple and clean can help readers focus on the most important aspects.
  • Presenting the features and solutions with a visual showcase can be more effective than writing a lot of text.
  • Including a clear call-to-action at the end of the case study can encourage visitors to contact the company for more information.

“Better Experiences for All” by Herman Miller

Herman Miller's minimalist approach to furniture design translates to their case study, “ Better Experiences for All ”, for a Dubai hospital. The page features a captivating video with closed-captioning and expandable text for accessibility.

The case study presents a wealth of information in a concise format, enabling users to grasp the complexities of the strategy with ease. It concludes with a client testimonial and a list of furniture items purchased from the brand.

Key points from the “Better Experiences” include:

  • Make sure your case study is user-friendly by including accessibility features like closed captioning and expandable text.
  • Include a list of products that were used in the project to guide potential customers.

“NetApp” by Evisort 

Evisort's case study on “ NetApp ” stands out for its informative and compelling approach. The study begins with a client-centric overview of NetApp, strategically directing attention to the client rather than the company or team involved.

The case study incorporates client quotes and explores NetApp’s challenges during COVID-19. Evisort showcases its value as a client partner by showing how its services supported NetApp through difficult times. 

  • Provide an overview of the company in the client’s words, and put focus on the customer. 
  • Highlight how your services can help clients during challenging times.
  • Make your case study accessible by providing it in various formats.

“Red Sox Season Campaign,” by CTP Boston

The “ Red Sox Season Campaign ” showcases a perfect blend of different media, such as video, text, and images. Upon visiting the page, the video plays automatically, there are videos of Red Sox players, their images, and print ads that can be enlarged with a click.

The page features an intuitive design and invites viewers to appreciate CTP's well-rounded campaign for Boston's beloved baseball team. There’s also a CTA that prompts viewers to learn how CTP can create a similar campaign for their brand.

Some key points to take away from the “Red Sox Season Campaign”: 

  • Including a variety of media such as video, images, and text can make your case study more engaging and compelling.
  • Include a call-to-action at the end of your study that encourages viewers to take the next step towards becoming a customer or prospect.

“Airbnb + Zendesk” by Zendesk

The case study by Zendesk, titled “ Airbnb + Zendesk : Building a powerful solution together,” showcases a true partnership between Airbnb and Zendesk. 

The article begins with an intriguing opening statement, “Halfway around the globe is a place to stay with your name on it. At least for a weekend,” and uses stunning images of beautiful Airbnb locations to captivate readers.

Instead of solely highlighting Zendesk's product, the case study is crafted to tell a good story and highlight Airbnb's service in detail. This strategy makes the case study more authentic and relatable.

Some key points to take away from this case study are:

  • Use client's offerings' images rather than just screenshots of your own product or service.
  • To begin the case study, it is recommended to include a distinct CTA. For instance, Zendesk presents two alternatives, namely to initiate a trial or seek a solution.

“Influencer Marketing” by Trend and WarbyParker

The case study "Influencer Marketing" by Trend and Warby Parker highlights the potential of influencer content marketing, even when working with a limited budget. 

The “Wearing Warby” campaign involved influencers wearing Warby Parker glasses during their daily activities, providing a glimpse of the brand's products in use. 

This strategy enhanced the brand's relatability with influencers' followers. While not detailing specific tactics, the case study effectively illustrates the impact of third-person case studies in showcasing campaign results.

Key points to take away from this case study are:

  • Influencer marketing can be effective even with a limited budget.
  • Showcasing products being used in everyday life can make a brand more approachable and relatable.
  • Third-person case studies can be useful in highlighting the success of a campaign.

Marketing Case Study Example

Marketing Case Study Template

Now that you have read multiple case study examples, hop on to our tips.

Tips to Write a Good Case Study

Here are some note-worthy tips to craft a winning case study 

  • Define the purpose of the case study This will help you to focus on the most important aspects of the case. The case study objective helps to ensure that your finished product is concise and to the point.
  • Choose a real-life example. One of the best ways to write a successful case study is to choose a real-life example. This will give your readers a chance to see how the concepts apply in a real-world setting.
  • Keep it brief. This means that you should only include information that is directly relevant to your topic and avoid adding unnecessary details.
  • Use strong evidence. To make your case study convincing, you will need to use strong evidence. This can include statistics, data from research studies, or quotes from experts in the field.
  • Edit and proofread your work. Before you submit your case study, be sure to edit and proofread your work carefully. This will help to ensure that there are no errors and that your paper is clear and concise.

There you go!

We’re sure that now you have secrets to writing a great case study at your fingertips! This blog teaches the key guidelines of various case studies with samples. So grab your pen and start crafting a winning case study right away!

Having said that, we do understand that some of you might be having a hard time writing compelling case studies.

But worry not! Our expert case study writing service is here to take all your case-writing blues away! 

With 100% thorough research guaranteed, our professional essay writing service can craft an amazing case study within 6 hours! 

So why delay? Let us help you shine in the eyes of your instructor!

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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assignment scenario examples

7 Examples of Problem-Solving Scenarios in the Workplace (With Solutions)

What is problem-solving anyway, problem-solving scenario #1: tight deadlines and heavy workload.

  • Problem-solving Scenario #2: Handling a Product Launch

Problem-solving Scenario #3: Internal Conflicts in the Team

Problem-solving scenario #4: team not meeting targets, problem-solving scenario #5: team facing high turnover, problem-solving scenario #6: team member facing discrimination, problem-solving scenario #7: new manager unable to motivate a team, building an effective problem-solving framework, wrapping up, frequently asked questions for managers.

Other Related Blogs

Problem-Solving Scenarios for Managers

  • Talk to the team members: John begins by asking what’s holding them back. Based on their responses, he realizes that he needs to delegate better. Immediately, John schedules meetings to  clarify each member’s expectations , priorities, and roles and ensure everyone is on the same page. He also makes a note to work on his delegation skills.
  • Plan things: John creates a project timeline or task list that outlines the deadlines and deliverables for each team member and shares this with the team to ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them.
  • Support the team: The team sits together to establish regular check-ins or progress updates to ensure members can ask questions or raise concerns.

Problem-solving Scenario # 2 : Handling a Product Launch

  • Review and redraw plans:  Emily revisited the project plan and identified areas where the team could reduce the scope or prioritize features to meet the budget constraints.
  • Go for alternatives:  The team then explored alternative resources or suppliers to find cost-effective options. Are there any underutilized resources, equipment, or personnel from other projects or departments that can be temporarily assigned to this project? Moreover, they revisited their suppliers and negotiated further.
  • Outsourcing parts of the project:  Emily considered outsourcing some project functions to external contractors or freelancers. Eventually, they outsourced the marketing to another team and continued working on the core features.
  • Upgrade the available capacity:  Emily and her team invested in upskilling the present workforce with additional skills. It allowed some team members to explore exciting areas and supplemented the team.
  • Get both sides onboard: Taylor begins the conflict resolution process by talking to both team members. She recognizes the issue and first goes into individual discussions with both. Later, she sets up a meeting for both to share their perspectives.
  • Mediation:  In the next step, the manager encourages the two team members to talk to each other and resolve the conflict independently. Taylor describes how the optimal contribution can look different for different team members. Additionally, she encourages them to be more open and collaborative so that they understand what the other one does.
  • Preventing mistakes again:  The team holds a meeting to discuss the issue and allow other team members to express their thoughts and feelings. By not hiding the problem that happened in front of everyone, Taylor acknowledges the issues and shows that she cares about the things happening inside the team. Further, by discussing and sharing, they can build a healthy relationship to prevent similar issues in the future. 
  • Use formal tools: Lastly, they establish clear guidelines and expectations for behavior and communication within the team to prevent future conflicts. Training and coaching are also added to help team members improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills.
  • Discussions with the Sales Representatives: Donna starts by having one-on-one conversations with each team member to understand their perspectives on why the targets are not being met. After gathering insights from personal discussions, Donna calls for a team meeting. During the session, she allows team members to share their experiences, challenges, and suggestions openly. 
  • Analysis of Sales Process: Donna conducts a detailed sales process analysis, from lead generation to closing deals. She identifies bottlenecks and areas where the team might be facing difficulties. This analysis helps her pinpoint specific stages that need improvement. 
  • Setting Realistic Targets: Donna understands that overly ambitious targets might be demotivating. She collaborates with her team to develop more achievable yet challenging sales targets based on their current performance and market conditions. She organizes training sessions and workshops to help team members develop the necessary skills and knowledge to excel. 
  • Recognition and Incentives: Donna introduces a recognition program and incentives for meeting and exceeding targets to motivate the team. This helps boost morale and encourages healthy competition within the team. She closely monitors the team’s progress toward the revised targets. 
  • Conduct Exit Interviews:  As the stream of resignation continues, Neil adopts a realistic approach and starts by attempting to understand the issues his former team members face. He conducts exit interviews with the people leaving and tries to determine what’s wrong. 
  • Understand the current team:  In the next step, Neil tries to learn the perspectives of staying people. Through surveys and conversations, he lists the good parts of working in his team and emphasizes them. He also finds the challenges and works on reducing them. 
  • Change and adapt to employee needs:  These conversations help Neil enable a better work environment to help him contain turnover and attract top talent. Moving forward, he ensures that pay is competitive and work is aligned with the employee’s goals. He also involves stakeholders to create development and growth opportunities for his team.
  • Be approachable and open: Erica first ensures she can gather all the details from the team members. She provides them with a safe space and comfort to express their concern and ensures that action will be taken. She supports the targeted team members, such as access to counselling or other resources.
  • Adopt and follow an official policy: Developing and enforcing anti-discrimination policies that clearly state the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is the first step to creating a safe workplace. Erica refers to the policy and takes immediate action accordingly, including a thorough investigation.
  • Reiterating commitment and goals: Providing diversity and inclusion training to all team members to help them understand the impact of discrimination and how to prevent it is essential to create a safe workplace. Erica ensures that the team members are aware of the provisions, the DEI goals set by the organization, and 
  • Connect with the team: Andrew starts by conducting one-on-one meetings with team members to understand their personal and professional goals, challenges, and strengths. Observing team dynamics and identifying any issues or obstacles hindering motivation and productivity also helps.
  • Involving team members in the process: Seeking feedback from team members on what motivates them and what they want to see from their manager to feel more inspired.
  • Enabling and empowering: Offering opportunities for growth and development, such as training, mentoring, or leadership roles, helped Andrew contribute to his team’s development. 
  • Take help from Merlin: Andrew reached out to Merlin, the AI chatbot of Risely, to get tips whenever he got stuck. Merlin sought details about his issues and shared some tips to help out Andrew. Here is what it looked like: 

andrew motivating a new team

  • Develop a problem-solving process: To get problem-solving right for multiple scenarios repeatedly, the key is to remember and set a problem-solving approach that works across the board. A wide-ranged problem-solving process that begins with identification and concludes at the resolution helps managers navigate various challenges the profession throws us. 
  • Learn to identify problems: The key to solving problems is placing them at the right moment. If you let some problems pester for long, they can become more significant issues for the teams. Hence, building the understanding to identify issues is essential for managers.
  • Think from multiple perspectives: As a problem-solver, you must care for various parties and stakeholders. Thus, thinking from numerous perspectives and considering ideas from a broad spectrum of people is a core skill. 
  • Consistently work on skills: Like other managerial skills, problem-solving skills need constant practice and review. Over time, your skills can become more robust with the help of assessments and toolkits. Tools like Risely can help you with resources and constant guidance to overcome managerial challenges. Check out Risely today to start reaching your true potential.

problem solving scenarios

How well do you perform in different problem-solving scenarios?

Learn more about your problem-solving skills with the help of a free assessment now.

What are some problem-solving scenarios?

What are problem scenarios, what is one example of problem-solving.

conflict mediation

Top 15 Tips for Effective Conflict Mediation at Work

Top 10 games for negotiation skills to make you a better leader, manager effectiveness: a complete guide for managers in 2023, 5 proven ways managers can build collaboration in a team.

assignment scenario examples

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Tom DiScipio

By Tom DiScipio

Feb 16, 2023

5 Real-Life Sales Scenarios Where You Need Assignment Selling (+ Templates)

5 Real-Life Sales Scenarios Where You Need Assignment Selling (+ Templates)

For many, assignment selling is a game-changing solution to one of the biggest sales peeves: answering the same customer questions again and again. 

Not only is it monotonous, but it eats up valuable time for both sales rep and buyer. 

That's why it's valuable to use assignment selling — that is assign content to your prospects ahead of a sales call — to set yourself up for more productive conversations with better-fit prospects.

Putting content to work for sales

The more educated the prospect, the faster the sales process, and the higher the close rate.

With this in mind, salespeople ask (or assign ) prospective clients to read or view specific materials so that they can be prepared for a deeper sales conversation once they actually connect.

At IMPACT, we’re able to do this by leveraging our trove of content to educate our prospects and build trust with them. Assignments may include watching videos, reading articles or website pages, or even taking an assessment. 

But how do you actually do assignment selling? What does "assigning" actually look like and when should you do it? 

Below, we'll share five common scenarios where assignment selling can be used and explain how our sales team typically handles them :

  • Qualifying a lead for fit and commitment
  • Ensuring prospects are educated
  • When a prospect doesn't complete the assignment
  • Aligning a new client's team
  • Assignment selling when sponsoring or exhibiting at an event

Scenario 1: Qualifying a lead for fit and commitment

If you're anything like IMPACT, there are likely several ways for a visitor to convert into a lead on your website.

This could be filling out a contact form, downloading an offer, or even directly booking time directly with your sales team.

In the last instance at IMPACT, the next step is a 30-minute conversation to understand two things:

  • How do our service or offerings match with the prospect's needs?
  • How close are they to making a purchasing decision?

However, rather than jumping right into it, we'd use assignment selling prior to our first call to qualify the lead for fit and commitment. 

What does this look like?

Below is an example of an email template we’ll use to prepare prospects for our first call together:

Hi [prospect name], I'm looking forward to connecting with you. To be sure we use our time effectively, here are a few resources that will help you become more familiar with our agency and our approach so you can determine if we're the right fit for your organization. Please take the time to review these before our call. Why We Need to Rethink the Relationship Between Client and Agency What is They Ask, You Answer? Here is a link to my calendar. Please book a time that is convenient for you.

Before you even talk, you need to make sure you and your prospect share the same values.

At IMPACT, for instance, our process is unique, and in our email we make it clear we want our prospects to know as much as possible about this before we meet.

A prospect reading the first article may have some concerns bubble up based on how we work with clients. This might lead them to cancel our meeting, but that's a good thing!

The most precious commodity for businesses and consumers alike is time.

Your sales team's time is better spent speaking with qualified prospects instead of unqualified ones and your buyer's time is best spent with vendors that will actually fit their needs or budget. 

However, should you and a prospect align, you can be sure future conversations will be more meaningful.


Notice that we also hold the prospect accountable to committing to the next stage of the sales process by having them book the meeting. A commitment here ensures follow-through later in the sales process.

Scenario 2: Ensuring prospects are educated

After your first call, you can use assignment selling again.

Before a second call at IMPACT, we send resources that speak directly to the prospect's situation, which we learned more about in our first call.

This way, if one prospect's needs are mostly related to website redesign, while another prospect's needs center around HubSpot workflows, they will each require different content to move them forward.


Note, you might notice a theme here: You can use assignment selling to take advantage of the space between conversations, keeping prospects active and engaged.

This is not only a continual test of their commitment, but it allows them to self-educate along the way.

By this point, you've already established fit and need, using the information from your initial call.

Using that insight, you can use a template like the one below to send more need-specific focused content. In this case, it's HubSpot training:

Hi [prospect name], It was so great speaking with you today! As promised, below are a few specific resources that will be important for you to read prior to our next conversation. How to get your money's worth with HubSpot This is our HubSpot training and implementation page . It dives into the different services we offer. These case studies represent the success other businesses like yours have achieved with IMPACT. Let me know if you have any questions!

Here, assignment selling helps us to address high-level questions we hear in every call before they're even asked. With these out of the way, each subsequent call with a prospect can be more efficient and productive.

Scenario  3: The prospect hasn’t completed the 'assignment'

As you might imagine, there are times when a prospect doesn’t complete the required "assignments" from your sales team. 

When this happens, you have two options:

  • You can choose to move forward with the next sales conversation in hopes that the process will progress as planned.
  • You can postpone the next sales conversation until the prospect can confirm they’ve completed the assignment.

The first option probably sounds like the natural path a sales rep would take, while the other sounds incredibly counterintuitive to closing more sales.

Saying to a prospect “it doesn’t sound like you’re ready to move forward,” might sound absurd — and to organizations with an inefficient sales process, it is.

However, in almost every instance, we’ve discovered that choosing to postpone maximizes a sales rep’s time and leads to more won opportunities .

The following is an actual email exchange between a prospect and myself regarding their "assignment" before a call:

Hi [prospect name], Confirming our 2:45pm EST call today. This is a reminder to make sure you have had time to take a peek at the below resources before we speak. If not, it may make sense to reschedule. I want to ensure we make the best use of our time together. Marcus Sheridan’s free course: They Ask, You Answer Fundamentals What Is a Learning Center and Why Does My Website Need One? If you haven't had time to peruse the above material, here is my calendar to book another time . Keep me posted! Tom

Prospect's response:

Hi Tom, I haven’t even started yet… Very sorry about that! I will reach out once I read through the articles. [prospect name]

One of the main purposes of assignment selling is to help sales reps spend time with the most qualified, committed, and engaged prospects — the ones most likely to become clients.

If a prospect hasn’t completed the assignment selling homework or taken the time to understand who you are, the conversation stays at a very elementary level. This isn’t the best use of anyone's time.

By pushing back the call and allowing the prospect to do much thinking, you save both parties an hour’s worth of unproductive conversation.


(It’s also worth noting that the prospect mentioned above did voluntarily book a new time to speak with us after completing the assignments.)

One might think that pushing the meeting would frustrate the prospect, but on the contrary, we’ve come to find that prospects appreciate the dedication.

Scenario 4: Onboarding a client team

Over the years, we've found the use-cases of assignment selling have extended beyond just the sales process and into the new client onboarding process.

If you’re an agency or you’ve ever worked with one, you’ll know that there’s a lot that needs to be communicated as the relationship gets started. This can include expectations around what’s being done, strategic direction, or outcomes.

For that reason, we use assignment selling as a tool during our onboarding process to align clients, especially teams.

Below is an example email used to support one of our client’s CEOs in creating internal team alignment around our services within their organization. In it, we help set the stage for the rest of our relationship using both written and video content:

Hi [client name(s)], Great meeting with you all today! Please watch the 3-minute video recap of our meeting and, if necessary, share with the rest of your team. Below the video, you'll see some homework with corresponding links and resources that are referenced in the video. [INSERT VIDEO RECAP ] Homework: Course: Self-Selection and the Touchless Buying Experience Article: Virtual Selling: The Essential Video Sales Call Checklist We've got a couple of weeks until we meet again which should be ample time to complete the above homework. Remember that by completing the above, you’ll dramatically improve your internal team’s alignment AND have much more productive conversations with your IMPACT team. Thanks — and as always, let me know if you have any questions. Talk soon! Tom

An email like this gives clients a shared doctrine and understanding that can be distributed beyond your point of influence to the rest of the organization, without risk of losing the impact of the original message.

Scenario 5: Event exhibition or sponsorship follow-up

In the years before the COVID pandemic, IMPACT did quite well at generating sales appointments from events where we exhibited.

Here’s a simplified version of our typical workflow on the trade floor:

  • A prospect comes to the booth.
  • They ask us a series of “so what do you do?” questions.
  • We ask them a series of “needs assessment” questions.
  • If we're aligned, we set up a sales appointment via our calendar links right away.
  • The prospect walks away and we move on to the next conversation.

We saw an opportunity to leverage assignment selling to improve the quality and effectiveness of those post-event follow-up conversations.

To do this, we inserted a couple of actions between steps four and five above.

Instead of allowing the prospect to leave the booth and hoping that they'd remember they'd be having a conversation with us in a week or so, we'd ask them to do something in the meantime.

Below is an email template we'd then send a few days later in advance of the follow-up sales conversation as a check-in to confirm that they didn't forget about the meeting or reading.

Hi [prospect name], Everyone at IMPACT enjoyed meeting you at [event name]! I recorded a quick 1 minute video for you below. [insert video ] As you know, we have a meeting scheduled on [meeting date] to continue to talk about They Ask, You Answer and how you can get started with it at [prospect company]. You also received a copy of the book. During our meeting, we'll discuss how They Ask, You Answer related to your organization, so please come prepared. If you’re not able to get through the reading, please let me know now so we can find a better time to connect. Otherwise, I'd encourage anyone else in your organization (especially in leadership, marketing or sales) who shares your mindset of becoming the most trusted voice in your industry to also attend our meeting. Here are a few additional resources to get your team members up to speed quickly: What is They Ask, You Answer? The Agency Model is broken, here's why. Real results from organizations who've embraced They Ask, You Answer Kind regards, Tom

In this instance, assignment selling helped us turn an event conversation into a real,  effective sales appointment.

Without it, we risk allowing our sales efforts at the event being wasted on no-shows or prospects who aren’t ready for the buying process.

If we go back to what the sales objective really is, it’s about booking the most qualified sales appointments, not the greatest number .

Assignment selling in action

Assignment selling, when done right, is a crucial tool in educating prospects and strengthening the sales process.

If you can educate our prospects about your company, your track record, and our offering, you can move more quickly through the sales process, knowing certain questions were already effectively answered by content.

In turn, your sales process will be shorter, your leads will be more qualified, and your sales reps will be more productive.

What’s more, your prospects will be able to see how committed you are to your central tenets, and this dedication builds trust and demonstrates transparency.

So, don't wait! At every stage of the process, have content specifically designed to assist our sales reps. If they find there’s something they need that doesn’t exist, ask your marketing team to produce it. 

For us, assignment selling is a vital part of what we do, benefiting our team members and our prospects as they move along the path to becoming clients. It can be for your team as well.

To get started, check out our free course, "Assignment Selling: Content Is Your Greatest Sales Tool."

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assignment scenario examples

30-Oct-2023 • Knowledge

Information, related links.

  • What-If Key Feature Video
  • SX Fundamentals Webinar: What-If, Managing cost and FX rate changes automatically in Kantata SX
  • Enhanced What-If Scenarios (1.36+)

Assignment Cost Basis What-If Scenarios

  • Assignment Cost Exchange Rate What-If Scenario The Assignment cost changes because the Exchange Rate changes between the Resource’s currency and the Engagement’s operating currency.
  • Assignment Cost Basis What-If Scenario The Assignment cost changes because the assigned Resource’s cost changes, for example if the Resource was due a new effective Rate Card or if they are promoted or otherwise change grades.
  • Update your Exchange Rates (See  Managing Currencies and Exchange Rates )
  • Run the Assignment Cost Exchange Rate What-If Scenario
  • Run the Assignment Cost-Basis What-If Scenario

Worked Spreadsheet Examples

Assignment cost basis.

  • Resource Cost
  • Resource Currency
  • Base Currency is the Currency of the Proposal, used as the display currency for the Engagement Dashboard as well as for the currency of the costs on Activity Assignments and Cost Milestones.
  • When a Resource is assigned to the Assignment, Kantata SX takes all known Exchange Rates and their Effective Dates between Supplier/Resource and Base Currencies and stamps them against the Assignment. This may mean that multiple Exchange Rates apply to different portions of the Assignment.
  • Usage on the Assignment

Assignment Cost Basis Calculation

  • Maintain the standard cost directly on the Resource record. Note that the Standard Cost field cannot be edited when using Rate Cards.
  • maintain a cost on the Resource record using a Rate Card combination (see  Rate Card Management ) .
  • RateCard (Cost is calculated from an Assignment Rate Card lookup) Used where your Org defines the Cost Rate based on a Rate Card using attributes of the Assignment, with no reference to the Resource record. 
  • NoCost (Assignment is created with 0 Cost - running an Assignment Cost Basis What-If Calculation will not impact NoCost Assignments)


  • the Resource's Supplier Invoicing Currency (if set), or if not set:
  • the Currency set on the Resource
  • Gets all Resource Cost Rate changes from the earliest Unlocked Period (see Time Adjustment in a Closed Period )
  • the Assignment Supplier Invoicing Currency Code
  • Stores Resource Cost Rates in the Resource's Currency Code. Where the Resource’s Currency Code differs from the Supplier Invoicing Currency, Kantata SX performs a real-time exchange rate conversion (using the most up-to-date rates on the most recent date that a Resource was Assigned on the Assignment).
  • Stores Resource Cost Rate changes that are set with future effective dates at the point of Assignment Creation, which can result in several rates with effective dates
  • Sets the default Cost Rate field on the Assignment to be the Cost Rate effective at the Assignment Start Date. This is stored in the Base Currency, so a real-time currency conversion will apply (using the most recent up-to-date rates on the most recent date that a Resource was Assigned on the Assignment) where the Base Currency and Supplier Invoicing Currency are different.

Assignment Cost Basis What-If Scenario

  • Assignments are not Lost
  • Where the Cost Behaviour Rule   is set to Accept Cost Changes = Manual
  • The Assignment End Date exceeds the what if date i.e. some part of the Assignment is after the what if date

Assignment Cost Basis What-If Scenario Calculation

  • Gets and applies the Assignment Cost Basis and new Costs from the What-If Date.
  • Calculates Assignment Costs using previously stored Exchange Rates (see Assignment Cost Basis Calculation ).

Assignment Cost Basis Exchange Rates What-If Scenario

Assignment cost basis exchange rates what-if scenario calculation.

  • Gets the latest known Kantata SX Exchange Rates from the Base Currency to the Assignment Supplier Invoicing Currency and stores this on the Assignment. These are the exchanges rates that will be used for all future cost currency conversions until an AssignmentWhatIfExchangeRate is run for the assignment. See Managing Currencies and Exchange Rates  for more on Kantata SX Exchange Rates)
  • Multiplies each of the Assignment Cost Basis costs by each of the Assignment Cost Basis Exchange Rates to produce a list of Assignment Costs in the Base Currency over time.
  • Calculates Assignment Total Cost: Assignment Total Cost = Sum Of the cost on each day of the Assignment, calculated by multiplying Forecast Time on the Assignment on the day multiplied by the effective Cost Rate on the day. Where Actual Time exists on the day then the Actual Cost Field on the Time Entry is used, catering for Actual Time recorded against different Rate Bands (e.g. overtime).

assignment scenario examples

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synonyms for assignment


See also synonyms for: assignments

antonyms for assignment

Most relevant

  • unemployment

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

How to use assignment in a sentence

Yariel Valdés González and I faced these challenges while on assignment in South Florida and the Deep South from July 21-Aug.

They’re putting time into decoration just as they would in their physical classroom, and students can interact with the space by, say, clicking on a bookshelf to get a reading assignment .

For now, if the district moves to in-person learning, instruction in Carlsbad will take place on campus five days per week and students may engage in additional independent practices and other assignments at home.

The assignments must also respect the relationships between the elements in the group.

It’s very hard, by the way, to do real random assignment studies of couples therapy.

His most recent assignment was the 84th Precinct, at the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge.

When Lewis was shipped off to Vietnam, his son was just three months old, and the timing of the assignment worried Lewis.

When Vial got that first assignment , she was just beginning her photography career, and Cirque du Soleil was only a few years old.

“For our winter issue, we gave ourselves one assignment : Break The Internet,” wrote Paper.

By the 1950s the rapid assignment of gender to an ambiguously gendered infant had become standard.

Consent to an assignment may be given by the president of the company, without formal vote by the directors.

A transfer by the lessee of the whole or a part of his interest for a part of the time is a sublease and not an assignment .

An assignment to one who has an insurable interest as relative, creditor and the like, is always valid.

When an assignment of it is made, the assignee may sue in his own name for rent accruing after the assignment .

In some states statutes forbid the assignment of such policies for the benefit of creditors.

Choose the synonym for draft

Words Related To assignment

  • circumstance
  • office function
  • responsibility
  • transaction
  • undertaking
  • officeholder
  • representative


  • apportionment
  • setting apart
  • stipulation


  • confiscations
  • embezzlements
  • expropriations
  • misappropriations
  • acknowledgment
  • adscription
  • recognition


  • Synonyms For
  • Antonyms For
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