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									                THE CASE STUDY CASE STUDY:

                                  Wayne Pealo, Ph.D.
                  Department of Recreation and Tourism Management
                            Malaspina University College


Case studies are stories with an educational message. They have been used as parables
and cautionary tales for centuries, yet their formal use in the classroom is recent. So
recent, in fact, that until the early 1990s the case studies literature in science was
virtually non-existent. Until this time, faculty had neither taught with cases, written
cases, nor seen one. This only began to change as more and more faculty realized the
inadequacies of the lecture method and began to seek novel methods of instruction
(Herreid, H. F. 2002). The use of case studies in Tourism Education has become more
popular in the new millennium.

The case study has been long stereotyped as “a weak sibling among social science
research methods. Investigators who use case studies are regarded as having deviated
from their academic disciplines” (Yin, R. K. 1994). However, the continued use of the
case study in the social sciences may suggest that they have a place in the
advancement of Tourism research.

Background Information

The Adventure Tourism course at Malaspina University College was intended to provide
students with an introduction to the adventure tourism sector through a variety of
theoretical and practical applications. Students are introduced to adventure tourism
theory through a variety of methods including lecture, seminar, guest speakers and
small group activities. As well, laboratory sessions are an integral part of the course and
include activities in canoeing, dragon boating, spelunking, ocean kayaking, hiking,
climbing, environmental interpretation and overnight camping.

During the past years course evaluations and student feedback it was discovered that
many of the international students comprehended the course theory and practice, but
struggled with applying the information to their own countries and cultures. As part of
an “internationalizing the curriculum project” at Malaspina, it was decided to explore the
use of international case studies to investigate what impacts, if any, they may have
upon the students understanding and the application of course theory and practice.


The purpose of the research was to examine the redesigning of the TMRT 252,
Adventure Tourism course to incorporate an International Casebook for Adventure and
Eco-Tourism, and investigate what impacts, if any, it may have had on the students
ability to relate course theory to practice and their own culture? As well, would the
implementation of the Casebook provide domestic students with a better understanding
and appreciation of the uniqueness of adventure and eco-tourism in other cultures
around the world?

The student demographics of the Adventure tourism class were comprised of a mixture
of international and domestic students. International students included Japanese,
Chinese, Turkish, Swiss, Nepalese and Mexican cultures. Domestic students were from
urban and rural parts of Canada. The age group ranged from 18 years to 30 years. The
gender composition was approximately seventy per cent female and thirty per cent

The International Casebook For Adventure and Eco-Tourism (Pealo, 2004), was
composed of nine adventure and eco-tourism case studies from around the world
including, Canada, China, Thailand, Nepal, Scotland, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and
the Galapagos. The Casebook was utilized as an integral part of the curriculum
throughout the semester on a regular basis. Students worked in small groups problem
solving each case and then presented their findings to the large group. Each group
provided summary feedback and a Casebook Summary was submitted at the end of the
        Student feedback was also collected after each case implementation and
recorded for analysis. This time series examination allowed for a repeated and cross
sectional approach (Yin, 1994). The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics.


The preliminary results from the research have indicated the following:
       1. The International Casebook for Adventure and Eco-tourism helped students to
          link course theory to different cultures.
       2. The International Casebook for Adventure and Eco-tourism increased the
          international and domestic students awareness of the relationship between
          adventure tourism, eco-tourism and culture.
       3. The International Casebook for Adventure and Eco-tourism assisted students
          to relate course theory to practice.


The use of the case study in Tourism Education has grown over the past decade.
Problem based learning (PBL) and other methods designed to link students with “real
world evidence” are becoming more common in today’s classroom. The reported
benefits of such endeavors may include increasing student awareness, assisting students
to relate course theory to practice and establishing important linkages between course
theory and culture. Perhaps one of the most powerful and rich benefits for international
students is the discussion that accompanies the case study process. The richness of
information provided through feedback from the students was very useful in helping to
identify the benefits of using international cases in the adventure tourism course. The
opportunity for students from different cultures to express their points of view in relation
to a specific issue is powerful! Students reported learning about cultural problems
relating to adventure tourism, such as the impact the growth of tourism in Quepos,
Costa Rica has had on community development and how a sustainable approach has
reduced the impact on the local people.

With the influx of international students in Tourism Education, the case study is quickly
becoming a powerful tool for enhancing the learning process. More research is needed
to further explore this approach to problem based learning with international students.

Herreid, H. F. (2002). The Case Method of Teaching Science. Case Studies In Science.
State University of New York At Buffalo.
Yin, R. K. (1994). Case Study Research. Design and Methods. Applied Social Research
Methods Series, Volume 5, 1994.
Pealo, W. G. (2004). International Casebook For Adventure and Eco-Tourism. Recreation
and Tourism Research Institute, Malaspina University College, Nanaimo.
International Adventure/Eco Tourism Case Studies
   1. Case I: The Treasures of China The Treasures of China. Online available:
   2. Case II: A Cultural Eco-Tourism In Canada Parker, B. (1998). CBMT: A
       Cultural Ecotourism In Canada. A Cultural Ecotourism. A Bridge to the Past
       and to the Future. Community-Based Mountain Tourism Conference,
       Online available:, May 3, 1998.
   3. Case III: Rural Development By Tourism: A Case Study in Northern
       Thailand. Vaugeois, N., Rollins, R., Deardon, P. (1998). Rural
       Development By Tourism: A Case Study In Northern Thailand. Paper
       presented at the 5 World Leisure Conference.
   4. Case IV: Mountaineering in Nepal Gurung, H. (1998). Mountaineering In
       Nepal, Himalaya. Some reflections.
   5. Case V: Do Scottish/British Hill-Walkers Need Farmers Hesp, P. (1997). Do
       Walkers Need Farmers?
   6. Case VI: Punta Cana Beach Resort in Dominican Republic Neri, F., Kelsey,
       K. (1999). Eco-Tourism Punta Cana Beach Resort In Dominican Republic.
   7. Case VII: Tourism and Sport Fishing In Quepos, Costa Rica Mabie, J.S.
       (2004). Tourism and Sport Fishing In Quepos, Costa Rica. Unknown
8. Case VIII: Galapagos Tourism Grall, J. (2004). Galapagos Tourism. TED
    Case Studies, Volume 2, Number 1, September, 1992.
9. Case IX: Adventure Tourism as “Ecotourism” in Quepos, Costa Rica: Is it
    Sustainable? Hallan, C. (2004). Adventure Tourism as Eco-Tourism In
    Quepos, Costa Rica: Is It Sustainable? Unknown Source.
Cases as conduits
between theory and

                                           Nicole L. Vaugeois, Ph.D.

                                 Volume 1
                 11th Canadian Congress on Leisure Research
  May 17-20, 2005 at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, British Columbia
Nicole L. Vaugeois, Editor

Informed Leisure Practice:
Cases as Conduits Between Theory and Practice

Volume 1
11th Canadian Congress on Leisure Research
May 17-20, 2005 at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo, British Columbia

The Recreation and Tourism Research Institute
ISBN: 1-896886-06-X

                          For additional copies please contact:

                     The Recreation and Tourism Research Institute
                              Malaspina University-College
                        900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5S5
                                 Phone (250) 740-6396

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