10.4 Case Studies

What is a Case Study?
It is an in-depth investigation of human experience whose aim is to describe, understand, and often explain a psychological or social phenomenon from the participant’s perspective.

How Are Case Studies Used?
They are particularly useful to investigate sensitive topics such as poverty, health issues, and domestic violence, and are also useful to investigate social processes in groups, such as team cohesion or conflicts.

What are the Strengths of the Case Study?
It is well-suited to investigate sensitive and complex issues in areas that could not be studied otherwise. It is also useful for studying group processes with a social group (beliefs, norms, and communication patterns). Results of acase study may generate entirely new knowledge, challenge preconceived notions, and contradict established theory

What are the Limitations of the Case Study?
Researcher bias could influence data collection. It is not always possible to generalize from a case study. May lead to participant expectancy or research bias, since researchers and participants work closely over a long period of time

How Could a Case Study be Used to Investigate Low Achievement by Minority Students in Inner City Schools?
Researchers must first determine why minority children have motivational problems and a slow learning curve, and then hey must determine how social and psychological processes may prevent these children from learning.

What Design Would Such A Case Study Use, and Why?
Might choose single case study because the aim is to describe the problem in this particular group, but also to suggest possible strategies to change it.

What Would Be the Research Question in the Case Study?
The main research question would be: “Can specific teaching strategies used by a classroom teacher promote motivation and learning in minority students in a class?”

What Would be the Role of Participant Observation in the Case Study?
It would be used to understand viewpoints of teachers and students; researchers might acts a co-teachers for a year, observing classes.

What Would be the Purpose of the Focus Groups in the Case Study?
The focus groups would putstudents in groups of 5 to discuss how they perceive the situation. It would want to learn 1) why they are not motivated to learn; and 2) what kind of learning they prefer and why.

What Would be the Purpose of Student Writing in the Case Study?
To write freely once a month to write about expectations; such accounts could give insight into individual student’s perceptions, beliefs, dreams, or other factors that could help explain the problem.

What Types of Data Would Be Gathered in the Case Study?
Researchers would have multiple data for analysis, including notes from field observations, and transcripts from focus groups interviews and free writings.

How Would the Data be Qualitatively Analyzed in the Case Study?
Inductive content analysis could be used to analyze the data; findings from the case study could be used to implement new teaching strategies in the school. Perhaps it would generate a new theory about effective teaching methods for less motivated students.

Can Findings from a Single Case Study be Generalized?
Normally it is not possible to generalize from a study with few participants. However, qualitative researchers argue it may be possible if it is applied in other settings that are very similar. This requires rich description of the case study in order to do this. The data might suggest that the teaching strategies found to be effective in teaching minority children could be transferred to similar settings to see if the findings could be corroborated.

Explain the Principle of Theoretical Generalization: Yin 1984
Argued results from one study can be generalized to an existing theory (theoretical generalization) if the patters from one case study can be repeated.If this happens, the theory is robust.