Multi-university team wins Student Case Competition

Anita Minh, Zahra Remtulla, Michelle Naimi and Clint Thomson

Left to right: Anita Minh (UBC), Zahra Remtulla (UVic Education), Michelle Naimi (University of Melbourne), and Clint Thomson (UVic Education)

The Student Case Competition is a national competition held annually by The Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) in which teams of three to five students analyze a case and present findings and recommendations to a panel of judges and a live audience.

This year, the first multi-university to participate included two UVic Faculty of Education students, Zahra Remtulla (B. Ed. Elementary PDPP) and Clint Thomson (Graduate Certificate in Education). With the help of their teammates, Michelle Naimi, from the University of Melbourne and Anita Minh from the University of British Columbia, the team took home first place in the finals held at this year’s CES conference in Calgary.

The competition starts when all teams are emailed a request for proposals for an evaluation case file. In the first round of the competition, teams were asked to evaluate a program called Forum for Young Canadians, a week-long trip to Ottawa for secondary or Cégep students aged 15 to 19 to learn about federal and provincial politics. The team had five hours to submit their proposal, specifying the methods they would use to evaluate the program. “I was excited to find that I was able to incorporate a lot of the facilitation and instructional strategies I learned in the PDPP program into the approach that we proposed,” says Zahra. “You learn how to work together.”

Some of the elements discussed in the reports include demonstrating an understanding of the program, potential challenges and outcomes that may arise during the course of the program. 

After winning the first round, the team moved to the finals in Calgary, where they competed against two other finalist teams. This time they were asked to help promote the use of a collective impact approach for the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter to other Calgary agencies also involved in dealing with family violence and abuse. The team presented their findings to a panel of judges.

“We also came up with three key messages to persuade other organizations to join a collective impact initiative. These were: Specialize, Be Supported and Learning and Collaboration,” says Zahra.

Zahra and the judges cited their commitment to the client as the key to their success. “We went into it really treating the panel like a client,” she says. “They had somebody from the program there and she apparently was really pushing for us to win because she felt that we really got their program.”

The team’s registration and travel cost were partly funded by the UVic Department of Education. “Thanks again to you, Dr. St. Clair and UVic for supporting me to take part in the case competition,” says Zahra.

Have a look at their presentation.