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Case Study. Lisa Hatfield, Kirk Lee, and Marcus Wenzel. What is it?. Qualitative method of research Explores real-life, complex, situated relationships; studies a bounded system over time (this is the case) Uses in-depth data collection with many sources. When should you use it?.

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Case Study

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Case study

Case Study

Lisa Hatfield, Kirk Lee, and Marcus Wenzel


What is it

What is it?

Qualitative method of research

Explores real-life, complex, situated relationships; studies a bounded system over time (this is the case)

Uses in-depth data collection with many sources


When should you use it

When should you use it?

When you’re asking questions of why and how

-provide in-depth exploration of a case

When you want to include context

-focus studies on program, event, or activity

When you may be a participant in the study

-unusual & has merit-ex: bilingual education


Why should you use it

Why should you use it?

Can provide rich information from multiple sources; information can be triangulated

Conclusions may be transferable to other situations


Why should you think twice about using it

Why should you think twice about using it?

If you are asking more “what” questions

If you want only empirical data

If you want to generalize your conclusions


Example of case study used

Example of case study used

  • Clark & Creswell (p. 243)

    • four high school music teachers

    • complicated lives & roles of teachers

    • stressors associated with their different roles

    • researcher spent 1 semester observing teachers at school

      • conduct interviews, collect documents, identify themes that emerged

        • role ambiguity, role conflict, role overload, underutilization of skills, resource inadequacy, and nonparticipation.


A case study debate

A Case Study Debate

Eisenhardt, K. (1989). Building theories from case study research. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532-550.

Dyer, W., & Wilkins, A. (1991). Better stories, not better constructs, to generate better theory: A rejoinder to Eisenhardt. The Academy of Management Review, 16(3), 613-619.

Eisenhardt, K. (1991). Better stories and better constructs: The case for rigor and comparative logic. The Academy of Management Review, 16(3), 620-627.


Key scholars references

Key scholars & references

Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.).

Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA:

Sage Publications.

Plano Clark, V. L., & Creswell, J. (2010). Understanding research: A consumer’s guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Stake, R. E. (2006). Multiple case study analysis. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:

Sage Publications.


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