Using Context-Rich Problems with Other Innovative Pedagogies
Context-rich problems can easily be used in conjuction with several other innovative pedagogies.
With cooperative learning
Group work is particularly appropriate for more complex context-rich problems. Group work will be more effective and efficient if it is based on cooperative learning structures and guidelines. In particular you will want to pay attention to the set up and grading of group work to make sure your students are doing more than just working in groups.
With just-in-time teaching
Context-rich problems can be used as a student assignment before a topic is introduced in class. Such just-in-time problems require students to read and think about topics before coming to class. For example, in a principles of microeconomics course, prior to a class on monopoly market structure you could ask your students to answer:
A friend is writing a science fiction novel and she hires you to be the economics consultant. (You remember that's how Alan Greenspan got his start, so you agree.) In this novel set in the future, the air is so polluted that people must buy it like they buy water or gasoline today. The author wants a conflict to arise in which one company has a monopoly on air. Based on your reading in chapter 9, provide advice to the author about what might happen. She has told you that she wants to write an interesting and complex novel in which outcomes aren't simple or predictable.
Student answers can be used in class to illustrate concepts discussed in the chapter such as price discrimination, or the ways in which monopoly power may be limited in the long run.
Although case problems usually are much more extensive than context-rich problems, requiring students to work over several class sections, and to use outside reference materials, parts of a case problem may be written in a context-rich format, and the use of context-rich problems is likely to help students build up to using cases. For example, part of a case may state that "You are . . ." and ask students to write a memo or short position paper on a topic.
With quantitative writing
If a context-rich problem requires significant calculations to be solved, the response to the problem can be structured as a quantitative writing assignment. For example a context-rich problem requiring students to calculate various types of costs and make a production decision (see example about Perfect Competition) would work well as a quantitative writing assignment.