Definitions:A case study is …• an empirical method aimed at investigating contemporary phenomena in their context.• a detailed investigation of a ‘bounded system’—single individual or group (a community, an institution, an individual, an activity or an event) to provide an in-depth understanding of the case(s).• a study of a particular case or set of cases which may rely on quantitative or qualitative data (or both) but usually involves some field-based data and aims to describes or explains the events of the case(s).• a research strategy that aims to understand social phenomena within a single or small number of naturally occurring settings. The purpose may be to provide description through a detailed example or to generate or test particular theories.• an investigation strives to portray ‘what it is like’ to be in a particular situation, to catch the close up reality and ‘thick description’ of participants’ lived experiences of, thoughts about and feelings for a situation.
Distinctive Features• Aims to gain a detailed rich and vivid description of events involved within a setting.• Provides a chronological narrative of events relevant to the case.• Blends a description of events with the analysis of them.• Focuses on individual actors or groups of actors and seeks to understand their perceptions of events.• Uses multiple techniques of data collection, including interviews, observations, field notes, documentary methods, audio or video recording.• Data collection typically continues over prolonged periods.
TYPES• Descriptive Case Study: attempts to provide a full portrayal of the case or cases being studied. It is used to (1) explore subjects about which little is previously known or phenomena in need of an interpretation that sheds new light on known data, and their descriptive aspect is invaluable. In a descriptive case study, events and situations are allowed to speak for themselves, rather than to be largely interpreted, evaluated or judged by the researcher. Thus, this case study is akin to the TV documentary.• Interpretive Case Study: uses theoretical frameworks to provide an explanation of particular cases, which can lead as well to an evaluation and refinement of theories.• Theory-evaluating Case Study: used to assess whether existing theories account for the processes and outcomes of selected cases.
Some Classical Examples• Hakuta (1976) studied the acquisition of English of Uguisu, the 5-year old daughter of a visiting scholar from Japan. Data were collected for a period of 60 weeks, after Uguisu had 5 months of exposure to English. The study reports that four grammatical features are not having been acquired: 3rd persons, irregular past, regular past and plurals.• Warchauer & Kern (1998) studied the use of CMC (computer-mediated Communication) in second language acquisition.• Wegerif (1998) studied the similarities and differences between face to face interaction and CMC and issues of motivation and autonomy in online learning.
Current Examples (1) Mu & Carrington (2007) investigated writing strategies of threeChinese post-graduate students in an Australian higher educationinstitution. The study was prompted by the paucity of secondlanguage writing strategies of Chinese students in an authenticcontext. Data were collected from a semi-structuredinterview, questionnaire, retrospective post-writing discussion, andanalysis on written drafts of papers. The findings indicate that thethree participants employed rhetorical strategies, metacognitivestrategies, cognitive strategies and social/affective strategies in theirwriting practice. This study supports the theory second languagewriting process is strategically, rhetorically, linguistically different fromfirst language (L1) writing process. Data demonstrated thatmetacognitive, cognitive, and social/affective strategies exceptrhetorical strategies (organization of paragraphs) transferred acrosslanguages positively. “An Investigation of Three Chinese Students English Writing Strategies” Published in TESL-EJ vol. 11, no. 1, June 2007
Current Examples (2) Soproni (2008) investigates language teachers’ perceptionon their personal development through the eye of sevenexperienced language learners who have learnt or English andother languages for several years and/or have had or had verymany teachers of languages. Data were collected throughunstructured interviews. Findings indicate that todevelop, language teachers need life-long learning and shouldadapt to student needs. According to experienced languagelearners, teacher education appears to be good enough for entryinto the profession but new motivation and impetus arenecessary for someone to remain a language teacher. “The Way Language Teachers Learn: Professional Development Through theEyes of Experienced Language Learners”. Published in Practice and Theory in Systems of Education, Volume 3 Number 2 2008
Five Major Steps of Conducting a Case Study1. Designing and planning the case study • determining the objective—what to achieve? • determining the case—what is studied? • studying theory—frame of reference • formulating research questions—what to know? • Selecting the site and/or unit of analysis—from what whom the data will be obtained?2. Determining the methods of data collection Try to use not less than the four types of triangulation (data-source triangulation—using more than one data source or collecting the same data at different occasions; observer triangulation—using more than one observer in the study; methodological triangulation— combining different types of data collection methods; or theory triangulation—using alternative theories or viewpoints.3. Collecting evidence4. Analyzing data Qualitative data analysis methods are commonly used.5. Reporting Use Pseudonyms
Proposal OutlineCHAPTER I: INTRODUCTIONA. Background to the StudyB. Reason for Choosing the TopicC. Statement of the ProblemD. The site and/or unit of analysis General profilesE. Objectives of the StudyF. Research QuestionsG. Significance of the StudyH. Scope of the StudyI. Definition of Terms
Proposal Outline (cont.)CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATUREA. Previous StudiesB. Theoretical BackgroundCHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGYA. Research MethodB. Data and Data Collection ProcedureC. Research Population and SampleD. Research SettingE. Data Analysis TechniquesF. Data Triangulation TechniquesG. Research Procedure
SOME SAMPLE TOPICS FOR CASE STUDIES• How three good Indonesian English teachers develop their professional skills• An investigation on the causes of a particular learner’s unwillingness to participate in group work in a junior high school• An evaluation of the use of short story to develop the students’ English vocabulary in grade 10 of a senior high school• Using problem-solving technique to develop students’ speaking skills in a senior high school
ReferencesBurns. A. (2010). Doing action research in english language teaching: A guide for practitioners. New York: Routledge:Creswell, J. W. 2008. Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: PearsonDenscombe, M. (2010). The good research guide for small-scale social research projects. New York: McGraw-HillGillham, B. (2000). Case Study Research Methods. London: ContinuumGerring. J. 2007. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres Gillham, B. (2000). Case Study Research Methods. London: ContinuumGerring. J. 2007. Case study research: Principles and practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University PresGoddard, W & Melville, S. (2006). Research methodology: An introduction. Lansdowne: Juta & Co, Ltd.McKay, S. L. (2006). Researching second language classrooms. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., PublishersMu & Carrington. (2007). “An Investigation of Three Chinese Students English Writing Strategies”. Retrieved on December 8, 2010 from: http://tesl-ej.org/ej41/a1.htmlRoss, Kenneth N. (ed.). (2005). Educational research: Some basic concepts and terminology. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning/ UNESCO.Soproni, Z. (2008). “The Way Language Teachers Learn: Professional Development through the Eyes of Experienced Language Learners”. Retrieved on October 12, 2010 from: http://www.eduscience.hu/index06.html