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Case-based learning promotes learning content, the ability to think critically, and clinical reasoning skills for students at any level. Writing cases for online small group discussions or the flipped classroom is often done without a workable framework as guide. A recommended framework from which to develop cases incorporates foreground data, background information, and professional context.1 Foreground information, or the crux of the problem, should include an instance of that problem presented in the same way in which it would present itself in nursing practice. For example, an instance consisting of a chief complaint or signs and symptoms that indicate a change in the patient's status will set the stage for a robust discussion.


Background information, including data necessary to achieve the outcome accompanied by extraneous information, adds messiness to the case that mimics the complexities of nursing practice and promotes the higher-level thinking required to problem solve. This mix creates difficulties that engage students' minds, focus attention on extracting data salient to the dilemma or problem, and promote connections among data resulting in a mental abstraction of a case to be stored in memory with cues amenable to later retrieval. As the backdrop to the case is the professional context, a place relevant to the role students aspire to such as an outpatient facility, acute care hospital, or executive boardroom serves to anchor the case in reality.


By Sally Kennedy, PhD, RN, FNP, CNE, President, Contemporary Curriculum Solutions, Sun Lakes, Arizona (mailto:[email protected]).




Kennedy S. Designing and teaching online courses in nursing. New York, NY: Springer; 2017. [Context Link]