"Experience keeps a dear school," said Benjamin Franklin. "A fool can learn in no
other." Learning from experience is often very costly to a facility: in terms of injured
personnel, damaged equipment, and wasted manhours. Learning from the experience gained
at the facility and from industry can prevent repeating costly mistakes. This guide contains a
method for learning from experience to prevent mistakes from occurring. That method is the
case study. This guide describes how to develop and present case studies. This guide should
give the instructional developer some ideas on the best kind of case study to use as well as
providing examples of the various types of case studies.
Training on industry and inhouse operating experiences should occur throughout the
training program to help prevent recurring unsafe events and to curb dangerous trends.
Experiences from the facility or from other industries should be incorporated in a manner
that is systematic and timely in conveying useful information. Case studies provide a means
to organize this information and present it to the trainees in a systematic way. By having
trainees analyze and discuss case studies, the learning experience is accelerated because the
trainees are actively involved in the learning process.
This DOE Guide to Good Practices for Developing and Conducting Case Studies was
developed on the basis of experience from the nuclear industry and incorporates information
from various resources that include: reports prepared for the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) and the Department Of Energy; information gathered from training
manuals and training handbooks; and methods successfully implemented by DOE and
commercial nuclear facilities.
Case studies have been used for many years as an alternative to the lecture method.
The first case studies were developed on the Harvard University campus. The Harvard
Method has been used to report actual situations and analyze case reports since the 1880s.
This nondirective way of helping students to think for themselves has won acceptance in law,
medicine, business administration, and social work.
One of the lessons learned from the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident was that
personnel in the nuclear industry did not have a means to share information learned from