Welcome to the German Unification Case Study. We hope that you will find this site useful as it provides your students with a unique learning opportunity. The activity is intended not only for German students, but also for Social Science students. No German language skills are necessary even though an instructor might opt to have his/her students use German rather than English in the classroom. To provide this site to a broader audience, however, this Web site and its links are completely in English.
The goal of the case study activity is to expose students to a wide range of challenges surrounding German unification and the period from 1990 to 1994. The primary aim of this role play is to gain insight into the complexity and interconnectedness of historical, political and economic issues, not necessarily to come up with viable solutions.
How does the Case Study work?
- Initially, each student is assigned a character by the teacher. Click on Characters in the sidebar, and this will take you to the gateway of the short character descriptions. After scanning the descriptions, decide which character to assign to a particular student. We have had interesting results when assigning characters that did not match the students' gender and/or personality. Since there are only 12 different characters at this time (we intend to add more in the future), you might want to assign a character to teams of two or three students.
- After students have been assigned their characters, direct them to this Web site. (For an overview of all pages on this site, use the Content Page, which also allows for easy navigation). Besides their full character description, students will be introduced to their respective group members and will learn about the Goals and Issues of their respective groups. In the Introduction, students will learn about the Case Study, find Historical Background information and learn about The Situation at the time of German unification. In addition, students are given specific instructions on how to prepare for the classroom discussion (The Discussion). Please advise students who use the Web site for the first time to move through the site in sequential order. This way the students will not get sidetracked (as we hope they will do later) and be able to grasp the full intent of this activity.
The aim of our Web page is to give students a tool which will facilitate the research of the problems their characters need to solve. Through providing extensive links both in the Character description and in the descriptions of the Goals and Issues, students will be able to gain the knowledge necessary to participate in the classroom discussion in a meaningful way.
Since the research part of the Case Study activity is vital to a successful group discussion, we recommend that you give students time to explore the content of this site and the links thoroughly. The degree to which students will exhaust this resource obviously depends on the level of the students and the goals of the course.
To read about further assignments and activities for students in preparation for the Unification Case Study, please click here: Assignments.
- When your students are adequately prepared for the discussion, divide them into their respective groups. You might want to quickly go over rules for the classroom discussion before having the students introduce themselves to the other group members. The time frame in which the actual classroom discussion takes place can range from 45 minutes to two hours. Depending on the time frame, interrupt the students' discussions in regular intervals to read from the Timeline. Remind students that they need to adjust their discussion to incorporate these factual developments into their search for solutions, and that the solutions should be arrived at in a consensual manner. Following the discussion, have the students present their results to the class as a whole. If students were unable to arrive at a consensus, have them present the reasons for their difficulty in doing so. In our experience, presenting the discussion results as a follow-up activity at the next class meeting is generally more successful than having students present their results on the same day.
- Finally, you might want to use the Evaluation to gather students' feedback on the German Unification Case Study. The evaluation form can be accessed as a PDF file for easy printout.
We would appreciate your feedback on using the German Unification Case Study and this Web site. In particular, we are interested in activities and assignments you used to enhance and facilitate the classroom activity. We conceive of this site as a collaborative effort in perpetual development and look forward to your input.