Magazine Feature

Toolkit for Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education

Apply the seven-step case method to another case—or to a case of your own. 

Paul Gorski and Seema Pothini argue for a “case method” approach to challenging teaching scenarios. The case method uses real-life scenarios to help educators practice seeing student circumstances and behaviors through an equity lens, taking many contextual factors into account. Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education includes 35 school- and classroom-based scenarios that address a variety of issues related to identity and diversity. The book also includes a seven-step process for analyzing these case studies, as identified in this excerpt. This toolkit highlights one scenario and provides a guide to applying the case study-analysis model.


Essential Questions

  1. What is the case method of developing teacher practice?
  2. How does the case-analysis process help us develop our skills when assessing challenging student scenarios?



  1. On your own or with colleagues, read the case study, “(Racist) Terms of Endearment.” In this scenario a high school math teacher overhears a white student calling an African-American classmate the n-word. When the teacher confronts the student who used the n-word, he claims that he was using it as a term of endearment—a claim that is not explicitly contested by the “friend” to whom he’s directing it
  2. Reflect on the scenario or discuss it with colleagues. Use these questions and points for consideration to guide your thinking.
  3. Follow the steps in the Case Study Analysis Worksheet to practice the seven-step approach and develop a plan of action. Refer back to the article to see how each step is applied to the case involving Samantha and Ms. Grady.
  4. Check out the book Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education (Routledge, 2014) for more school- and classroom-based case studies addressing issues like race, class, ability, gender, sexual orientation and religion.