Leader: Dr. Mansureh Kebritchi
Case study is a form of qualitative research that focuses on discovering meaning, investigating processes, or gaining deep understanding of an individual, group, or situation. The use of a case study design can be determined by four major factors of the nature of the research questions, the extent of the researchers’ control over research variables, the expected end product of the research, and existence of a bounded system as the focus of the research (Merriam, 1998). The research questions that focus on “how” and “why” are the appropriate questions for a case study as the design helps researchers gain what can be learned from a single case. In many research settings, lack of researchers’ control over the research settings and variables necessitate adoption of a holistic approach to investigate the reality of the situation and deep understanding of the meaning of what is occurring. Case study design is appropriate for such situations as it is built upon tacit knowledge and provides a thick description about the case under investigation. The end product of a case study can be the case itself but often it is used as instrumental way to investigate a broader phenomenon (Stake, 1995). The most critical element of a case study design is identification of the case itself which leads to identification of a bounded system with certain features within boundary of the case and other features outside of the case. To determine whether there is a bounded system, researchers may investigate whether there is a limited number of people involved in the case who could be interviewed or a finite amount of time for observation. If there is no limit to the number of people who could be interviewed or observations that could be conducted, then the phenomenon is not bounded enough to be a case (Merriam, 1998, p.27-28).
Unit of analysis
May include studying an event, a program, an activity, more than one individual
To thoroughly examine and understand the cases, multiple sources of data are used such as interviews, observations, documents, surveys, and artifacts.
Data are analyzed through description of case and themes of the case as well as cross-case themes.
A thick description of detailed analysis of one or more cases should be provided.
Please post your questions and comments regarding Case Study design in this discussion thread.