Case study research is “the study of an issue explored
through one or more cases within a bounded system”
(Creswell, 2007,p. 73).
"This method is appropriate when
the researcher wants to answer a
descriptive question or an
(Gay, Mills & Airasian ,2009,p. 427)
How or why
Merriam, as cited in Gay, Mills & Airasian (2009), in
explaining a bounded system said, “I can fence in what I
am going to study” (p. 426).
In education for example, the bounded system might be a
teacher, classroom or school.
“Case study research often explores a bounded system (a
case) or multiple bounded systems (more than one
case) over a period of time” (Creswell, 2007, p. 73).
“Case study research can be presented as a strategy of
inquiry, a methodology or a comprehensive research
strategy”(Creswell, 2007, p. 73).
It can often be difficult for
researchers to identify a
suitable case or cases
(Creswell, 2007, p. 75).
Creswell (2007) identifies the different
types of case studies as:
• The collective or multiple case study in
which “one issue or concern is selected,
but the inquirer selects multiple case
studies to illustrate the issue” (p. 74).
• The intrinsic case study in which case
focuses on itself. (p. 74).
1) Determine if a case study method is suitable
to the research problem.
2) Ascertain suitable case or cases.
3) Collect extensive data relying on numerous
sources of information, such as “observations,
interviews, documents, and audiovisual
materials” (Creswell, 2007, p. 75).
4) Analyse data in either a holistic or embedded
5) Report on the meaning or implications of the
case or cases. (Creswell, 2007, p. 74-75)
SAMPLE CASE STUDY – Campus
response to a Student Gunman
By: K.J. Asmussen & J.W. Creswell,
The incident – A forty-three year old
gunman attempts to open fire on a class
of his peers in a university setting. His
weapon malfunctions and after fleeing
he is captured by police (p. 338).
• Researchers first “drafted a research protocol for
approval by university administration and the
Institutional Review Board” (p. 340).
• Researchers then limited their study to responses
to on campus groups (p. 341).
• Researchers widened the study to incorporate “the
paradigm assumptions of an emerging design, a
context- dependent inquiry and an inductive data-
analysis (p. 341).
• Researchers bounded the study in a time frame of
eight months and by the campus community, a
single case (p. 341).
Researchers found that in developing a campus-wide plan
for future incidents might be categorized into two groups:
“a psychological or socio-psychological response of the
campus community to the gunman incident” (p. 348).
Issues that were outlined during the case analysis were:
leadership, communication and authority (p. 348).
The case study outlined the need for organizational
change that “would require cooperation and coordination
among units” (p. 348).
Asmussen, K.J., & Creswell, J. (1995). Campus response to a student gunmen. In J.
Creswell (Ed.), Qualitative inquiry & research design: choosing among five
approaches (pp. 337-353). Ohio: the Ohio State University Press.
Action research is described as “critical research dealing with
real-life problems, involving collaboration, dialogue, mutual
learning , and producing tangible results” (Denzin and Lincoln
2008, p. 643)
Two main types of action research:
Critical action research – “the goal is
liberating individuals through knowledge
gathering; also known as emancipatory
action research” (Gay, Mills, Airasian, 2009 p. 488).
Practical action research – emphasizes more
of a “how to” approach to the processes of
action research and has a less philosophical
bent (Gay, Mills, Airasian, 2009 p. 488).
Characteristics of action
research (Gay, Mills, Airasian, 2009 p. 486).
Persuasive and authoritative – action research is done
by individuals interested in solving every day problems they encounter in their
job, data sources are identified that provide persuasive insights into the
possibility and impact of an intervention.
Relevant – to the participants and researcher in their particular context
because researcher identifies the area of focus based on specific problems
Accessible – not tied to the rigorous methods of other research
approaches. Action researchers challenge their own assumptions, and are
willing to reflect on and change their thinking and practice
The basic steps in the action
research project (Mills, G, 2000)
Identify an area of
Analyze and Interpret
Develop an action
Action research in action
*open link and scroll down to page 178 for example of action
COME TO MY WEB (SITE) SAID THE SPIDER TO
THE FLY: REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE OF A
VIRTUAL PROFESSOR (Mills, G, 2000 p.
“Feminist research approaches, center and make
problematic women’s diverse situations and the
institutions that frame those situations” (Creswell 2007, p. 25)
“The aim of feminist research
is to “correct both the
invisibility and distortion of
female experience in
ways relevant to ending
women’s unequal social
position” (Lather as cited in Creswell,
2007, p. 26)
“ In feminist research approaches, the goals are to
establish collaborative and nonexploitative
relationships, to place the researcher within the
study so as to avoid objectification and to conduct
research that is transformative” (Creswell 2007, p. 26)
Click on the link below to hear Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber,
Boston College, talking to Patrick Brindle, Research
Methods Publisher at SAGE Publications, about feminist
research methods. The interview was filmed at the Mixed
Methods Conference in Harrogate, July 2009.
Can men do feminist
Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, responds to this
question. *click on the link below
“Feminist researchers need to look for
what has been left out in the social science
writing, and to study women’s lives and
issues such as identities, sex roles,
domestic violence, abortion activism,
comparable worth, affirmative action, and
the way in which women struggle with
their social devaluation and
powerlessness within their families” (Creswell,
200, p. 26)
To explore feminism and the
complexities of gender as a social
and cultural marker through a visual
medium click on the website below
Identify one of the issues
or problems experienced
by women on the previous
What kind of data could you as
a feminist researcher collect to
lead to insights about the
What insights might the
What plan or process
could you put in place to
remedy the problem?
Using an action research model, identify a problem
experienced by women. Imagine and outline the basic steps
you might take in your own action research project
Focus groups encompass everyday social interactions,
including group discussions, conversations, and
negotiations within a diversity of settings (Bakhtin, 1986,
as cited in Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Focus groups are essentially a community of inquiry in
which pedagogy, politics, and research merge (Kamberelis
& Dimitriadis, 2008).
According to Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2008), Foucault’s
(1984) genealogical approach, which is used to interpret
the various factors that influence people, social
occurrences, and institutions, is useful in deconstructing
focus groups as pedagogical, political, and research
Paulo Freire - through literacy programs, Freire
encouraged people to reflect on their circumstances and to
make an effort to improve their lives, often through political
action. Freire viewed education as a tool for collective
empowerment. In Freire’s view, liberation and
transformation are never fully complete (Kamberelis &
Jonathan Kozol - drew on Freire’s emancipatory work in
literacy programs and advocated for complex and rich
word use in deconstructing meanings within social and
political contexts. His study circles were held in unofficial
locations and facilitated the empowerment of the people
from within (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Consciousness-raising groups (CRGs) served to formulate theory based on the
experiences of women in second and third wave feminism that could lead to
their empowerment (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Esther Madriz (2000) perceived focus groups in feminism as places in which
women could feel safe, share their experiences with one another, and regain
control of their lives within a nurturing environment, enabling them to speak out
against social injustices (as cited in Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Abortion, incest, and sexual and physical abuse were some of the issues that
emerged and were recognized as requiring political and legislative action
(Eisenstein, 1984, as cited in Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Third wave feminism emphasized the involvement of women of different
ethnicities, classes, ages, background, and sexual identities (Kamberelis &
Informal spaces enabled women to freely share their experiences in third wave
feminism, shedding light on social issues and initiating positive change
(Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008).
Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton – conducted focus groups in
1941 to assess people’s perceptions of WWII in order to
continue developing propaganda. These focus groups were
conducted within formal, face-to-face settings with
predetermined themes (expressed content) (Kamberelis &
Janice Radway – held focus groups to interpret the dynamics
surrounding women’s interest in romance novels (socially
constructed audience analysis) (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis,
According to Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2008), focus groups
allow the participants more involvement and in the research
process, decentralizing the role of the researcher and providing
a more democratic style of research.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches
(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln Y.S. (Eds.). (2008). Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (3rded.).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2009). Educational Research: Competencies for analysis and
applications (ninth ed.) Columbia, Ohio: Pearson Education Ltd.
Kamberelis, G. & Dimitriadis, G. (2008). Focus groups: Strategic articulations of pedagogy, politics,
and inquiry. In Denzin, N.K. &Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative
materials (3rd ed., p. 375-402). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mills, G. (2000). Come to my web (site) said the spider to the fly:
reflections on the life of a virtual professor in Loughran, J. & Russell, T. (Eds.).(2000). Exploring
myths and legends of teacher education (pp. 178-182). East Sussex, UK. Retrieved from