STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER• What is a case study?• Generalization in case study• Reliability and validity in case studies• What makes a good case study researcher?• Examples of kinds of case study• Why participant observation?• Planning a case study• Data in case studies• Recording observations• Writing up a case study
WHAT IS A CASE STUDY?• A case study is a specific, holistic, often unique instance that is frequently designed to illustrate a more general principle;• The study of an instance in action;• The study of an evolving situation;• Case studies portray ‘what it is like’ to be in a particular situation;• Case studies often include direct observations (participant and non- participant) and interviews.
WHAT IS A CASE?• A person;• A group;• An organization;• An event;
ELEMENTS OF CASE STUDY• Rich, vivid and holistic description (‘thick description’) and portrayal of events, contexts and situations through the eyes of participants (including the researcher);• Contexts are temporal, physical, organizational, institutional, interpersonal;• Combination of description, analysis and interpretation;• Focus on actors and participants;• Let the data speak for themselves (don’t over-interpret).
TYPES OF CASE STUDY• Exploratory (pilot);• Descriptive (e.g. narrative);• Explanatory.• Intrinsic case studies: – (to understand the case in question);• Instrumental case studies – (examining a particular case to gain insight into an issue or theory);• Collective case studies – (groups of individual studies to gain a fuller picture).
DESIGNS IN CASE STUDY• Single-case design – a critical case, an extreme case, a unique case, a representative or typical case, a revelatory case (an opportunity to research a case heretofore unresearched.• Embedded, single-case design – more than one ‘unit of analysis’ in the design, – e.g. a study of school might also focus on classes, teachers, students, parents, and each of these might require different data collection instruments.• Multiple-case design – comparative case studies within an overall piece of research, or replication case studies.• Embedded multiple-case design – different sub-units in each of the different cases, – a range of instruments used for each sub-unit, and each is kept separate to each case.
KEY QUESTIONS IN CASE STUDY• What exactly is the case(s)?• How are cases identified and selected?• What kind of case study is this (what is its purpose)?• What is reliable evidence?• What is objective evidence?• What is an appropriate selection to include from the wealth of generated data?• What is a fair and accurate account?• Under what circumstances is it fair to take an exceptional case or a critical event?• What kind of sampling is most appropriate?
KEY QUESTIONS IN CASE STUDY• To what extent is triangulation required and how will this be addressed?• What is the nature of the validation process in the case study?• How will the balance be struck between uniqueness and generalization?• What is the most appropriate form of writing up and reporting the case study?• What ethical issues are exposed in undertaking the case study?
DATA IN CASE STUDIES• Observations (structured to unstructured);• Field notes;• Interviews (structured to unstructured);• Documents;• Numbers.
TRIANGULATION• Data source triangulation – researcher looks for the data to remain the same in different contexts;• Investigator triangulation – several investigators examine the same phenomenon;• Theory triangulation – investigators with different view points interpret the same results; and• Methodological triangulation – one approach is followed by another, to increase confidence in the interpretation
ROLE OF RESEARCHER (Stake, 1995)TEACHER ADVOCATE EVALUATOR BIOGRAPHER INTERPRETER
STRENGTHS OF CASE STUDIES• Can establish cause and effect;• Rooted in real contexts;• Regard context as determinant of behaviour;• The whole is more than the sum of the parts (holism);• Strong on reality;• Recognize and accept complexity, uniqueness and unpredictability;
STRENGTHS OF CASE STUDIES• Lead to action (link to action research);• Can focus on critical incidents;• Written in accessible style and are immediately intelligible;• Practicable (can be done by a single researcher);• Can permit generalizations and application to similar situations;
GENERALIZATION IN CASE STUDY• From the single instance to the class of instances;• From features of the single case to classes with the same features;• From the single features of part of the case to the whole of the case;• From a single case to a theoretical extension or theoretical generalization.
RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY IN CASE STUDIES• Construct validity• Internal validity• External validity• Concurrent validity• Convergent validity• Ecological validity• Reliability• Avoidance of bias THE NEED FOR A CHAIN OF EVIDENCE
A GOOD CASE STUDY RESEARCHER MUST BE . . .• An effective questioner, listener and prober• An effective observer• Able to make informed inferences• Adaptable to changing situations• Versed in research methods• Able to collate and synthesize data• Able to maintain confidences and to act with discretion and confidentiality• Versed in relevant subject knowledge
WHY PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION?• Observation studies are superior to experiments and surveys when data are being collected on non- verbal behaviour.• Investigators can discern ongoing behaviour as it occurs and are able to make appropriate notes about its salient features.• Researchers can develop more intimate and informal relationships with those they are observing, and in natural environments.• Case study observations are less reactive than other types of data-gathering methods.• Direct observation is faithful to the real-life, in situ and holistic nature of a case study.
PLANNING A CASE STUDYCONSIDER:• The particular circumstances of the case: – The possible disruption to individual participants that participation might entail; – Negotiating access to people; – Negotiating ownership of the data; – Negotiating release of the data.
PLANNING A CASE STUDYCONSIDER:• The conduct of the study including: – The use of primary and secondary sources; – The opportunities to check data; – Triangulation; – Peer and respondent validation; – Reflexivity; – Data collection methods; – Data analysis and interpretation; – Theory generation; – Writing the report• Consequences of the research (and for whom).
STAGES IN CASE STUDY• Start with a wide field of focus;• Progressive focusing;• Draft interpretation/report (avoid generalizing too early).
CONTINUA OF DATA IN CASE STUDIES QUALITATIVE QUANTITATIVE NATURAL ARTIFICIALUNSTRUCTURED STRUCTURED NARRATIVE NUMERIC JOURNALISTIC STATISTICAL
DATA TYPES IN CASE STUDY• Documents• Archival records• Interviews• Direct observation• Participant observation• Physical artifacts• Actual data gathered, recorded and organized by entry, and the researcher’s ongoing analysis/report/comments/narrative on the data.
RECORDING OBSERVATIONS• Record the notes as quickly as possible after observation.• Discipline yourself to write notes quickly.• Dictating rather than writing is acceptable.• Word-processing field notes is vastly preferable to handwriting.• Keep backup copies of field notes.• The notes ought to be full enough adequately to summon up for one again, months later, a reasonably vivid picture of any described event.
WRITING UP A CASE STUDY• Executive summary followed by detail.• A prose account is provided, interspersed with relevant figures, tables, emergent issues, analysis and conclusion.• Examine the same case through two or more lenses (e.g. explanatory, descriptive, theoretical).• Follow a simple sequence or chronology, interspersed with commentaries, interpretations and explanations.• Have a structure that follows theoretical constructs or a case that is being made.• Order by main issues.• Consider rival explanations.
PROBLEMS WITH CASE STUDIES• Difficult to organize;• Limited generalizability;• Problems of cross-checking;• Risk of bias, selectivity and subjectivity;
AN EXAMPLE OF A CASE STUDY: LEARNING TO LABOUR Willis, P. (1977) Purpose: to find out how working class kids get working class jobs and others let themConsiderations:• the need to link macro and micro sociology;• The need to analyze schooling in terms of macro-constraints and human agency• The need to see schools as sites of contestation, resistance and struggle in both a micro and macro sense.
PROCEDURE(a) Ethnographic study of a group of males in their final year of school and then in their first year beyond school, working in factories and other short-term, manual employment(b) Study of their behaviour in school and how it feeds into their choice of post-school occupations
ELEMENTS OF LADS’ CULTURE• Opposition to authority and rejection of conformity: clothing; smoking and lying; drinking;• Celebration of the informal group;• Excitement is out of school;• Rejection of the literary tradition;• Sexism;• Racism.
SHOP-FLOOR CULTURE• Masculine chauvinism – sexism;• Attempt to gain informal control of the work process;• Rejection of the conformists in the factory;• Rejection of ‘theory’ and certification;• Rejection of the coercion which underlines the teaching paradigm;• Shirking work/absenteeism/taking time off;• No break on the taboo of informing;• Speaking up for yourself;• Present oriented;• Rejection of mental labour and celebration of manual labour.
MAIN FINDINGS• The behaviours and values which the lads sought and practised in school lead them into choosing deliberately and positively those post-school occupations that reinforce and let them practise these behaviours and values;• There is a continuity between the lads’ life styles at school and their life styles out of school and post- school;• The need for immediate cash, immediate gratification, anti-authority behaviour, chauvinism, rejection of mental labour, and celebration of the informal group find expression in school and post- school.
CONCLUSIONWorking class kids get working class jobsbecause that is what they choose and whatthey are driven to choose by the values thatthey hold.