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General Comments for Students on Case Study Assignments
You may be required to undertake a case study for at least one of your assignments. A case study tends to differ from the more traditional accounting exercise in three ways: • • • Cases tend to be longer and more complex than traditional exercises. They also tend to deal with more than one aspect of a business. Cases often contain information that is irrelevant and that needs to be ignored. There is no one single, correct solution. The proposed solution will rely on assumptions and judgements made by the student.
In these ways, case studies reflect real life. In reality, problems are often complicated, multi-faceted and you may have to separate out the relevant from the irrelevant data. Often there is no uniquely correct solution. Thus case studies can provide an opportunity to handle much more realistic and interesting problems than can traditional exercises. A difficulty with case studies is that the problem to be solved is not always obvious or clear-cut. It is therefore a good starting point to try to identify what the problem really is. You must be able to distinguish between the causes of the problem and its symptoms. For example, a fall in profitability may be a symptom of some underlying cause such as a poor pricing policy. Try not to waffle. It is important to get to the point. Marks in an examination when dealing with a case study are usually awarded for a clear and concise explanation of the problems and any proposed solutions; long, tortuous explanations may indicate that you have not got to the heart of the matter. Furthermore, do not include large chunks of the case study in your final report or presentation. This, too, may suggest that you have not grasped the key issues and that you are simply repeating rather than using the information provided. Working in groups is sometimes an effective way to approach solving a case study. This is because people can ‘spark off’ each other to come up with ideas that could help towards a solution. Do not be too quick to dismiss ideas from others that do not run along lines you have already developed, and do not be critical of ideas that come from individuals who are not seen as the academic ‘high flyers’. Good ideas do not always come from expected sources. The more supportive the group is towards all its members, the more likely it is to work effectively and arrive at a feasible solution.
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2 © Pearson Education Limited 2005 . If this is the case. depending on the circumstances. 4e –Case Study Comments Sometimes an assignment involves giving a presentation. This may mean the use of overhead projector slides or even of video. Check with your tutor about the availability of necessary equipment. thought must be given to how the solution is to be presented to make the maximum impact on the audience.Atrill/McLaney: Financial Accounting for Decision Makers.