Qualitative case study methodology provides the opportunity to conduct an intensive exploration or description and analysis of a situation or social unit, such as an individual, group, institution, or community (Yin, 2009). The benefit of this qualitative approach for the scholar-practitioner is the ability to study contemporary phenomenon in current, applicable real-life context to the researcher (Noor, 2008). A case study method may be used when the type of research question asks a “why” or “how” question. As compared to surveying a few variables across a large number of units, a case study focuses on investigating many, if not all, the interplay of significant factors characteristic of a situation.
The approach for using a qualitative case study design--descriptive, explanatory, exploratory, or embedded—provides novice (Baxter & Jack, 2008) or experienced researchers the opportunity to example complex phenomena within the context of a particular bounded system. The researcher defines this bounded system by identifying the boundaries from which to analyze in depth the complexities or behavioral patterns within the case. Cases may encompass a range of environments or settings including: educational systems, government practices, healthcare systems, private enterprise, nonprofit institutions, or other social settings.