Higher Education Students Place Third in National Case Study Competition

Team members Glen Edward (far left), Hayley Landers (second to left), Emily Hayhurst (second to right), and Sarah Langguth (far right) snap a photo with their friend Jack Ellis while preparing a video for their Case Study Competition entry.

Students in the Master of Education in Higher Education program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education won third place in the 20th annual Student Affairs.com Virtual Case Study Competition.

The team beat out 71 other submissions for 48 different universities—the most ever in the competition’s history.

For the competition, Sarah Langguth, Emily Hayhurst,  Glen Edward, and Hayley Landers created a student affairs program called “The Oakland Challenge.” The program was designed to foster positive peer socialization for students who were transitioning to the remote higher education landscape.

The students drew inspiration for their project from the hit TV show, “The Amazing Race,” where contestants compete in fast-paced challenges around the world. The students put a higher-education spin on the concept. They designed fun challenges to help first-year college students build connections, practice teamwork, and learn about campus resources.

“We thought through every step in detail,” says Hayhurst. “Someone could actually put on this program. We have lots of little details sprinkled through, from t-shirts to team assignments.”

The student’s project addressed the reality that many college students are facing amid the global pandemic.

“We wanted to make it a fun experience, and show that you don’t have to give covid the ability to take away students’ experiences,” says Edward.

For the case competition, a panel of anonymous judges selected winners. The judging criteria included innovation of approach, educational value to student affairs, and use of literature both within and outside student affairs. The selection was approved by the co-chairs of StudentAffairs.com, who are all higher education professionals.

Clinical Assistant Professor Maximilian Schuster, the coordinator of the school’s higher education MEd program, served as the team’s faculty advisor.

“Gaining a national accomplishment like this so early in their careers really speaks to this team’s abilities to ignite learning as student affairs professionals,” says Schuster.

The team members currently have Schuster as a professor in the course Student Development Theory.

“The case competition showed that what we’re learning in class and in our internships is recognized as valuable at a national level. We are in the right field!” says Langguth.

Landers agreed that the project connected what she is learning in her master’s program to a real-life application.

“It was fun to see how we could put theory into practice,” says Landers.

The students all said that the experience gave them the chance to bond with each other as classmates. They are already making plans to compete again next year.

Learn More

The Pitt School of Education Higher Education programs are currently accepting applications. Apply here.