Appropriate Terminology - case study? scenario? quiz?

Mar 06, 2014


I'm creating a course to show learners how to navigate several aspects of a performance management system. They can watch tutorials as they go through the topics, or continue ahead if they know the topic already. The course ends with two "Case Studies" which the learner has to navigate accurately on the screen to advance, and ultimately get credit. My question is: is this what a Case Study is? Or is there a better term? It's basically a scenario (someone emails the manager) and then the manager (the learner) has to navigate on screen what he should do -- let me know if that makes sense! Any help is greatly appreciated!

Stephanie Mahoney

4 Replies
Suraj Karakulath

I think 'Scenario'is a better term than Case Study. Case Study usually is usually a presentation of information - events, actions taken, consequences, inference from the events- which the user has to absorb in order to further understand a topic. It also is more ''passive''

What you are attempting involves the user to actively make some choices (click options, answer etc.) to proceed through the screen so a 'Scenario' is a more suitable term. But Scenarios usually have more than one or two 'branches'  leading to different conclusions based on the users' choices.  If there is only one main flow of events, maybe it's an 'Activity' instead of a 'Scenario' ?

I faced a similar situation in an elearning course I developed recently - I wanted to create a 'Scenario' with multiple branches leading to different conclusions but the SMEs wanted to keep it small so I had to eliminate all the other branches and just stick with the main one - the correct series of steps - so then it became more of an 'Activity'

Nicole Legault

Hey Stephanie!

Great question and very interesting topic!! Great feedback from Suraj and Sergey. 

I looked up a few definitions on the Merriam-Webster dictionary site:

  • Case Study:  "a published report about a person, group, or situation that has been studied over time"; also : "a situation in real life that can be looked at or studied to learn about something".

  • Scenario: "a description of what could possibly happen", and "an account or synopsis of a possible course of action or events". 

  • Activity: "something that is done as work or for a particular purpose"

I think that given these three official definitions, you could feel comfortable using any of the three terms for your project. I initially agreed with Suraj that it's not exactly a case study, but after looking up the definition of case study and seeing how broad it is (a situation in real life that can be looked at or studied to learn about something)  then I think it might actually work if you really wanted to use that terminology, although I think it would work best when you're illustrating or demonstrating a proper process.

That being said, I agree with the Sergey that "Scenario" would work best. This is just personal opinion. I don't think there's any rules or guidelines that say that a scenario should have multiple branches. In the past most of the scenarios I create simply follow one branch, but the feedback and character facial expressions do adjust accordingly to the answer, and the final result/score is adjusted based on their decisions and culmination of answers.  I like the term "Scenario" because I think it infers people, decision-making and context about a specific workplace situation a bit more than the other two terms. 

Again, interesting topic! And I look forward to hearing more opinions

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