Archive for April 19th, 2011

One Difference Between Case Classes and Lectures

If you are in a lecture-based class, for the most part you can sit back and listen. Every now and then you have to chime in and prove you read the book, but generally it doesn’t take much effort. On the other hand, case based classes are different. Especially with more assertive professors. Not only do you have to read the case more thoroughly, but you also have to think about the nuances of the case and consider a wider range of questions the professor might ask you. Well, just today, I went to my case based class and for just a quick second, I forgot that difference.

Just today, I went to my case based class called Entrepreneurial Finance. Entrepreneurial Finance, taught by Professor Steven Rogers, is one class I’ve been excited to take all year now. Not only does it go for a lot of points but it also usually gets great reviews.

The class is known to be intense during the actual class time, meaning that the class moves quickly and the professor does a lot of cold calling.  As one student recently told me, “it’s the one class you have to ALWAYS be prepared for.”  That’s because the professor’s style is to call on a lot of people.  To question their responses. Uncover their assumptions. And make them defend their arguments .. often with numbers.

As students, our job is to to take a stance. To make an argument – hopefully one that we believe in. Leverage data to support our arguments. And if possible persuade the masses, which is no easy feat in a class of 104 second year students that all read and analyzed the case differently

So upon reflection, it often seems like cases aren’t only about the decision, but also about the argument. How you frame your thoughts. How you communicate the message. And how to show the professor you’ve given a well thought-out response. Especially since participation is 50% of your grade in this class.

For just for a few hours, I forgot the importance of making a good argument. And I was not able to make one in class today. And even the arguments I did try to make, I couldn’t back them up with numbers, since I didn’t do the calculations before hand. When the professor asked, I fessed up, and the professor was sure to let me know that I should have done the work, in front of the entire class, not to mention in front of a lady classmate, who I may have been trying to impress recently!

In the end, the class reinforced the idea that cases and lectures are different.

In a lecture, you can prepare before class or after class. So long as you catch some of the salient points before the the next lecture, you’ll be fine.

In a case-based class, you have to prepare before class. Sure you can go under the radar once, maybe even twice. But at some point it will catch up to you. And by not preparing once, and getting called on during that one class, it could seem like you never come prepared at all.

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 Business School 1 Comment

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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