Facilitating Case Discussion: Initiating Case Discussion
After setting some “ground rules,” distribute Part I of the case and ask a volunteer to read it aloud. Sometimes it is helpful to ask each participant to read one paragraph as you go around the room. The theory is that the sooner you get participants to speak, the more likely they are to become active participants. Most of our case guides will ask you to briefly state the specific goal(s) of the session.
Next, we suggest that you ask participants to help focus your time for case discussion by asking the group, “Given our goal(s) and the case as it has unfolded thus far, what questions or topics would you like to focus on during today’s session?” Eliciting a group learning agenda can help you quickly assess the level of the participants (if unknown) and help focus goals for the group. This is especially critical when time is limited and there is only one session planned for the case. Plan to spend no more than 2-3 minutes doing this with most groups.
While asking the group what issues they would like to discuss, write them on a board or flip chart. You might consider using a scribe to diminish the focus on you and to improve your ability to listen for common themes. This agenda will give the group and facilitator a reference point and a list to review/summarize at the end of the case. As the discussion proceeds, you might check off the items covered.
It can also be helpful to identify two participants (usually with anticipated alternative points of view) and forewarn them that you will ask them to give their opening analysis of the case to the group to begin the discussion. Providing even a few minutes for them to collect their thoughts while eliciting the group’s agenda for example would be called a “warm call.” A “cold call” would be asking a group member to respond without any forewarning.