What Happens When a Case Study Gets Locked in an Escape Room?

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Case study escape rooms enhance critical thinking, empathy, and applying knowledge in real-world scenarios. Attendees will participate in a case study escape room. In the debrief, attendees will investigate how to construct interactive, synchronous and asynchronous case study escape rooms, discuss the significance of storytelling, and brainstorm scenarios across disciplines.

Extended Abstract

Let’s face it. Escape rooms are fun. But do they dispense educational value? Are escape rooms even possible in an asynchronous online course without expensive and exclusive software? The answer is yes and definitely yes. Escape rooms provide an innovative way of fostering engaging between students and between students and course content. Additionally, well-designed escape rooms, linked to course and department learning objectives, aid students in transferring what they have learned into long-term memory, enhancing critical thinking and leadership skills, and motivating students to apply knowledge in order to solve problems presented in simulated real-world scenarios. While case studies mirror many of the educational benefits found in escape rooms, case studies also give students a safe space in which to explore situations they might not encounter on their own, thereby expanding students’ understanding and, perhaps, empathy. Such responsiveness can lead to a behavioral change, as well as improved situational evaluative and interpretive skills.

Research tells us that game-based learning motivates students by creating an interactive virtual learning environment that promotes situated experiential learning. Gamification challenges students to think outside of the box, to focus on developing solutions, and producing tangible results. The unusual method of combining case studies with escape rooms bursts open the flood-gates of student engagement—cognitive, relational, and behavioral—by fashioning authentic learning communities.

Levels of Participation:

Attendees, divided into breakout escape room teams, will participate in a short unfolding case study escape room. All teams will receive the same case study and will compete against each other. The first team to emerge from the escape room with the best solutions will receive a Gold Level eCertificate. The second team will receive a Silver Level, and the third team a Bronze Level. As part of the game debrief, attendees will sneak a peek behind the curtain to investigate how to construct interactive unfolding case study escape rooms for both synchronous and asynchronous courses, using tools available in the LMS. Along the way we will explore the significance of storytelling, delve into how an appealing narrative attracts and sustains student immersion, and brainstorm scenarios across a variety of disciplines. We encourage attendees to pose questions throughout the session and will include a Q&A at the end.

Session Goals:

Attendees will be able to discuss scenarios for blending case studies with escape room gamification elements. They will also be able to strategize ways to implement an escape room, utilizing the tools available in their institution’s LMS. Additionally, attendees will be able to communicate the benefits of incorporating interactive unfolding case study escape rooms into their courses.


The takeaways for participants in this gamified session include ideas for how to design case study escape rooms without specialized software and suggestions for developing an attention-grabbing narrative.