Professor Jack Little, CFE, CPA
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
The days of the traditional college classroom, where the professor lectures on a topic and later gives exams on that material, are gone forever. The preferred style today, both by the professor as well as the student, is case-based learning. Students are expected to do the relative background reading beforehand and come to class ready to take on a case study, laser focused on the topic. Faculty spend their time doing the research and writing the case study for use in the classroom. This is a lot more interesting for all involved, students and faculty alike. It drives home the salient points of the subject matter and gives the students more real-world experience.
In this semester’s Fraud Examination class in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, we took it a step further. We flipped the classroom. Instead of the professor doing the research and writing the case study to be used in the class, we had the students investigate the fraud and write the case study. Students found this approach interesting, gratifying and occasionally terrifying!
The class was broken into teams of three individuals. Each team was tasked with finding a fraud to investigate. They collected news articles, dug out the investigative reports and court documents, interviewed law enforcement officials, victims and perpetrators. They wrote up their case, tying key concepts back to a relevant chapter of the fraud textbook used in the class. They posed end-of-case questions to challenge the reader’s knowledge of the aspects of the fraud as well as the material covered in the text. They created an “Instructor’s Resource” — essentially an answer key to their case questions and implementation guidance for its use.
By the end of the semester, each group presented their case to the rest of the class, highlighting what they had found and what they had learned. The cases were well done, and some were outstanding enough that they could easily be used in future case-based classes.
The best case, at least in this professor’s opinion, covered a payroll fraud that occurred at a small company in Rochester, New York, Nordon, Inc. With permission of my student authors as well as the Norton Company, I share it with you here.
If you are interested in the Instructor Resource, reach out to me at email@example.com.