Case Studies

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Case Studies

The OCKO has developed over 50 case studies to enhance learning at workshops, training, retreats and conferences. Case studies make mission knowledge attractive and engaging by involving people in the decision making process. 

Read more about the Spring 2013 Case Studies Workshop Series.

Key Documents
Case Study Magazine - Click on cover image to open the document.Case Study Magazine
Abstract: This magazine is a collection of case studies put together by the NASA Safety Center and Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer, Goddard Space Flight Center. It includes four decision-oriented case studies, three system failure case studies, two cases of interest as well as a condensed version of the case study methodology. 

Case Study Methodology - click on cover image to open the file in a new window.Case Study Methodology 
Case studies are an integral part of organizational learning at Goddard (and increasingly at other NASA centers), used in workshops, conferences, training programs, and interactive media. This guide examines the rationale for the case-study method and describes the step-by-step methodology the Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer (OCKO) at Goddard uses to develop, publish, and implement cases studies in NASA missions and projects. 

Case Study CatalogCase Study Catalog - Click on cover image to open the document. 
This catalog of NASA-Related Case Studies lists cases from a range of sources, including NASA's APPEL program, NASA/Goddard's Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer, NASA's Safety Center, as well as the Harvard Business Review and the Center for Systems Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology. 

Case Study Collection
The OCKO's collection of cases (accessible through the Goddard Institutional Repository) covers cases of various sizes and covering a wide range of missions and topics, including launch decision making, procurement, instruments, risk management, systems engineering, etc.. Visit the site to learn more. 

Using Case Studies to Learn from Experience (A Video) 
View "Learning from Experience: Using case studies as a learning tool to transfer experiential knowledge," a Masters Forum session led by Ed Rogers. 

Why case studies?
Organizational learning takes place when knowledge is shared in usable ways among organizational members. Knowledge is most usable when it is contextual. Case study teaching is a method for sharing contextual project management knowledge that can help make the reapplication of lessons learned meaningful.

How we develop cases?
Case stories are written by interviewing the key players on a project in addition to collecting historical documents and reports. A professional writer produces a written case story incorporating human elements, technical aspects and lessons learned. From these comprehensive case stories one or more case studies are then extracted. For more details on our approach to case study development, see the Case Study Methodology.

How do we use case studies at NASA?
The case studies are written to allow one or more key players from the case to tell their story and interact with participants in a learning environment. Within Goddard and more broadly, within NASA, the cases are used at knowledge sharing workshops and other forums, including PM Challenge and the APPEL Masters Forum. Whenever possible, the key players from the case are present when a case is being used and are actively engaged in the discussion of the case. 

Who else can use these cases?
A sample of the OCKO case studies is accessible through the Digital Case Study Library. The public collection includes a range of cases that vary in size and topics. Review the Case Study Index for a complete list of the cases currently available or the Case Study Highlights for a sampling of case study abstracts. In the Case Study Collection, a complete case typically includes two separate files: 1) the case itself, distributed to participants; 2) the teaching note, meant to support the facilitator or instructor in guiding the case discussion.

We welcome feedback on the case study methodology and/or any of the individual case studies. 

For questions regarding the OCKO case studies, please contact the Goddard OCKO at 301 286 4467.

Case Study Resources

Page Last Updated: September 30th, 2013
Page Editor: Barbara Fillip