case studies
Case Studies
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  • fully depict client’s experience in program, input process and results
  • powerful means to portray something to outsiders
  • often done to make practical improvements
  • usually quite time consuming to collect, organize and describe
  • represents depth of information, rather than breadth
  • It cannot, however, allow the researcher to generalize, that is, to argue that from one case-study the results, findings or theory developed apply to other similar case-studies
  • The case looked at may be unique and, therefore not representative of other instances
  • Not beneficial in reaching rigorous conclusions or determining precise relationships between variables

What is a Case Study?

  • usually based in social science
  • in-depth longitudinal (over a long period of time) investigation of a single individual, group, or event
  • systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information and reporting results
  • can lend themselves to generating and testing hypotheses
  • investigating a phenomenon within its real-life context
  • can be qualitative or quantitative

Why choose a Case Study?

  • seeks reasoning from specific events to generalization
  • usually offers new variables and further questioning

Designing a Case Study

  • determine goals of study
  • select subject
  • select appropriate method of gathering data


  • usually kept to only one participant or a small group
  • should be provided with background or history of participant (may be needed to analyze or draw conclusions)

Data Collection (could be any or all):

  • documents
  • archival records
  • interviews
  • direction observation
  • participant observation
  • artifacts


  • more valid if information gathered from more than one source
  • can lead to more questions (further research ideas)

To Justify Validity and Reliability

  • may need extensive time on site
  • use a variety of data collection sources
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