Case Study Research Edwin D. Bell Winston-Salem State University
Why Case Study Research? • It is one of several ways of doing research. • “In general, case studies are preferred when (a) “how” and “why” questions are being posed, (b) the investigator has little control over events, and the focus is on contemporary phenomenon within a real-life context” (Yin, 2009. p. 2).
Definition of a Case Study is Two-Fold • A case study is an inquiry that • investigates a contemporary phenomenon in depth and within a real-life context, especially when • the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not really clear
Definition of a Case Study is Two-Fold (continued) • The Case Study inquiry • Copes with the technically distinctive situation in which thee are many variables of interest than data points, and as one result • Relies on multiple sources of evidence, with data needing to converge in a triangulation fashion and as another result • Benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions to guide data collection and analysis. • (Yin, 2009. 18).
Triangulation • It is generally accepted in action research “that researchers should not rely on any single source of data, interview, observation, or instrument” (Mills, 2003, p. 52) • “In research terms, this desire to use multiple sources of data is referred to as triangulation.” ( Mills, 2003, p. 52)
Types of Triangulation • Yin (2009) describes four types of triangulation • Data source (multiple data sources) • Investigator(multiple investigators) • Theories (see Essence of a Decision) • Methodological (multiple data collection methods) (We will use multiple data sources and multiple data collection methods in our case studies)
Data Sources • Yin (2009) Recommends six sources of data for case studies (see Figure 4.1 on p. 102) • Documentation • Archival Records • Interviews (or surveys) • Direct observation • Participant observation • Physical artifacts
Data Collection methods • Creswell and Clark (2007) recommend mixed method data collection, i.e., using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to strengthen the validity of the conclusions that you reach. • (see Research design and mixed methods approach: A hands on experience)
Theoretical Propositions • Literature Review (LR) • Analysis of your environment (AN) • Concept Map (CM) is a function of the literature review and your analysis of your environment, i.e., CM = f (LR*AN)
Validity • Validity – generally there are four types • Construct validity – identifying correct operational measures for the concepts being studied • Internal validity – does your concept map work the way you predicted • External validity – does your study add to the theoretical understanding of the concepts • Reliability – demonstrating that the operations of the study can be repeated with the same results (Yin, 2009).
References • Creswell, J. W. & Clark, V. L. P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand oaks, CA: Sage. • Mills, G. E. (2003). Action research: A Guide for the teacher researcher, 2nd Edition, Merrill/Prentice-Hall: Upper saddle River, NJ.
References (continued) • Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods, 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.