Applying case-based method in designing self-directed online instruction: a formative research study

  • Heng Luo
  • Tiffany A. Koszalka
  • Marilyn P. Arnone
  • Ikseon Choi
Development Article


This study investigated the case-based method (CBM) instructional-design theory and its application in designing self-directed online instruction. The purpose of this study was to validate and refine the theory for a self-directed online instruction context. Guided by formative research methodology, this study first developed an online tutorial based on 13 design assumptions synthesized from the CBM literature. The researchers then formatively evaluated the online tutorial as a design instance of CBM through two iterations of design, evaluation, and revision. The major findings included: (1) perceived value of various CBM design features, (2) benefits and limitations of applying CBM in the tutorial design, and (3) validation and revision of a set of generic and context-specific CBM design assumptions. These findings extend our understanding of CBM to the context of self-directed online instruction and provide useful insights and practical guidance to inform instructional design practices.


Case-based method Formative research Self-directed online learning Instructional design theory 



This study was self-funded, based on the dissertation work of its first author.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

The research protocols has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Syracuse University on September 10th, 2013. IRB # 13-257. Informed consents have been obtained from all participants of the study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Educational Information TechnologyCentral China Normal UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Instructional Design, Development and EvaluationSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.School of Information StudiesSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.Learning, Design, and Technology ProgramThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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