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Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide
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Case study is a research method that involves an in-depth, detailed examination of a single unit, such as an individual, family, group, organization, community, or event. Case studies are usually conducted by sociologists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, or researchers from other social science disciplines.
Case studies are used to provide a rich and detailed account of a particular social phenomenon. They are often used to generate new hypotheses or to test existing theories. In some cases, case studies are also used to evaluate programs or interventions.
Types of Case Study
There are three types of case study research:
Exploratory Case Studies
Descriptive case studies, explanatory case studies.
Exploratory case studies are conducted when little is known about a phenomenon. They are used to generate hypotheses and gather preliminary data.
Descriptive case studies describe a phenomenon in detail. They are used to develop an understanding of a complex issue.
Explanatory case studies explain why or how something happens. They are used to test theories and identify cause-and-effect relationships.
Case Study Data Collection Methods
There are a variety of case study data collection methods, including:
- Document analysis
Interviews are perhaps the most common type of data collection in case studies. They allow researchers to collect detailed information about individuals’ experiences and perspectives.
Observations can also be useful in case studies, particularly if the researcher is interested in studying how people interact with their environment.
Document analysis is another common data collection method in case studies; it involves examining documents such as policy records, media reports, and demographic data.
How to conduct Case Study Research
Conducting case study research is a complex process that requires both scientific and methodological rigor. Follow the steps below:
- Define the research question or questions to be addressed.
- Determine if there is enough information available about the case or cases you want to study
- Consider your budget and time Constraints.
- Select the appropriate methodology and design.
- Decide if there is an existing theoretical framework that can be applied to your case or cases.
- Collect data, which can be done through interviews, focus groups, surveys, or observation.
- Analyze the data and draw conclusions.
- Communicate the findings.
Advantages of Case Study Research
There are several advantages of using case study research.
- It allows for a close examination of the context within which the phenomenon under investigation occurs.
- It provides rich data that can be analyzed in depth.
- It allows for the development of theory from data.
- It can be used to test hypotheses.
- Case studies can help to refine existing models.
- It can be used for descriptive purposes.
- It promotes reflexivity on the part of the researcher.
Also see Focus Groups in Qualitative Research
Disadvantages of Case Study Research
There are also a number of drawbacks to using this approach.
- It can be difficult to generalize from the case study to other situations. Because the focus is on a single case.
- it can be more difficult to determine the impact of the factors being studied.
- Case study research can be time-consuming and expensive.
About the author
I am Muhammad Hassan, a Researcher, Academic Writer, Web Developer, and Android App Developer. I have worked in various industries and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In my spare time, I enjoy writing blog posts and articles on a variety of Academic topics. I also like to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the IT industry to share my knowledge with others through my writing.
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The case study as a research strategy
- 1 Centre for Health Promotion Research, Halmstad University, Sweden.
- PMID: 9275815
- DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.1997.tb00423.x
A research strategy seldom used in the caring sciences is the case study. A case study is an empirical in-depth inquiry about an individual, family, group or organization. It is preferable when 'how' and 'why' questions are asked. The case study is mainly used to explain those causal links in real-life intervention that are too complex for either the survey or experimental strategies. Like other research strategies, its design includes questions or propositions, units of analysis, the logic linking the data to the questions or propositions, and the interpretations of the outcomes. A case study can be reported as a single case or as a compilation of a series of cases. In conclusion, a case study is a simple and excellent way for a care professional to present him or herself to the scientific world.
- Understanding the 'how' and 'why' of our choices. Serrant-Green L. Serrant-Green L. Nurse Res. 2008;16(1):3. Nurse Res. 2008. PMID: 19025101 No abstract available.
- Means, motive, and opportunity: case study research as praxis. Muscari ME. Muscari ME. J Pediatr Health Care. 1994 Sep-Oct;8(5):221-6. doi: 10.1016/0891-5245(94)90065-5. J Pediatr Health Care. 1994. PMID: 7799190
- Case and grounded theory as qualitative research methods. Jacelon CS, O'Dell KK. Jacelon CS, et al. Urol Nurs. 2005 Feb;25(1):49-52. Urol Nurs. 2005. PMID: 15779692 Review.
- The problem of bracketing in phenomenology. LeVasseur JJ. LeVasseur JJ. Qual Health Res. 2003 Mar;13(3):408-20. doi: 10.1177/1049732302250337. Qual Health Res. 2003. PMID: 12669340
- Exploring caring using narrative methodology: an analysis of the approach. McCance TV, McKenna HP, Boore JR. McCance TV, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2001 Feb;33(3):350-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2001.01671.x. J Adv Nurs. 2001. PMID: 11251722 Review.
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What Is a Case Study?
An in-depth study of one person, group, or event
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.
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Benefits and Limitations
Types of case studies, how to write a case study.
A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.
The purpose of a case study is to learn as much as possible about an individual or group so that the information can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.
While case studies focus on a single individual or group, they follow a format similar to other types of psychology writing. If you are writing a case study, it is important to follow the rules of APA format .
A case study can have both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers must consider these pros and cons before deciding if this type of study is appropriate for their needs.
One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:
- Allows researchers to collect a great deal of information
- Give researchers the chance to collect information on rare or unusual cases
- Permits researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research
On the negative side, a case study:
- Cannot necessarily be generalized to the larger population
- Cannot demonstrate cause and effect
- May not be scientifically rigorous
- Can lead to bias
Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they are interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. The insights gained from such research can help the researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.
However, it is important to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause and effect relationships between variables. However, case studies may be used to develop hypotheses that can then be addressed in experimental research.
Case Study Examples
There have been a number of notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:
- Anna O : Anna O. was a pseudonym of a woman named Bertha Pappenheim, a patient of a physician named Josef Breuer. While she was never a patient of Freud's, Freud and Breuer discussed her case extensively. The woman was experiencing symptoms of a condition that was then known as hysteria and found that talking about her problems helped relieve her symptoms. Her case played an important part in the development of talk therapy as an approach to mental health treatment.
- Phineas Gage : Phineas Gage was a railroad employee who experienced a terrible accident in which an explosion sent a metal rod through his skull, damaging important portions of his brain. Gage recovered from his accident but was left with serious changes in both personality and behavior.
- Genie : Genie was a young girl subjected to horrific abuse and isolation. The case study of Genie allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed. Her case also served as an example of how scientific research may interfere with treatment and lead to further abuse of vulnerable individuals.
Such cases demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers could not replicate in experimental settings. In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development.
This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.
There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:
- Collective case studies : These involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community. For example, psychologists might explore how access to resources in a community has affected the collective mental well-being of those living there.
- Descriptive case studies : These involve starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed, and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
- Explanatory case studies : These are often used to do causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at factors that may have caused certain things to occur.
- Exploratory case studies : These are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses .
- Instrumental case studies : These occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.
- Intrinsic case studies : This type of case study is when the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget's observations of his own children are good examples of how an intrinsic cast study can contribute to the development of a psychological theory.
The three main case study types often used are intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. Intrinsic case studies are useful for learning about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at an individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collective case study can be useful for looking at several cases simultaneously.
The type of case study that psychology researchers utilize depends on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the case itself.
There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.
Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.
Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individual's life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.
Where to Find Data
There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. Six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:
- Archival records : Census records, survey records, and name lists are examples of archival records.
- Direct observation : This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting . While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
- Documents : Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc., are the types of documents often used as sources.
- Interviews : Interviews are one of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involve structured survey questions or more open-ended questions.
- Participant observation : When the researcher serves as a participant in events and observes the actions and outcomes, it is called participant observation.
- Physical artifacts : Tools, objects, instruments, and other artifacts are often observed during a direct observation of the subject.
Section 1: A Case History
This section will have the following structure and content:
Background information : The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.
Description of the presenting problem : In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.
Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.
Your diagnosis : Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client's symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.
Section 2: Treatment Plan
This portion of the paper will address the chosen treatment for the condition. This might also include the theoretical basis for the chosen treatment or any other evidence that might exist to support why this approach was chosen.
- Cognitive behavioral approach : Explain how a cognitive behavioral therapist would approach treatment. Offer background information on cognitive behavioral therapy and describe the treatment sessions, client response, and outcome of this type of treatment. Make note of any difficulties or successes encountered by your client during treatment.
- Humanistic approach : Describe a humanistic approach that could be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy . Provide information on the type of treatment you chose, the client's reaction to the treatment, and the end result of this approach. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.
- Psychoanalytic approach : Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would view the client's problem. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic approach and cite relevant references. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy would be used to treat the client, how the client would respond to therapy, and the effectiveness of this treatment approach.
- Pharmacological approach : If treatment primarily involves the use of medications, explain which medications were used and why. Provide background on the effectiveness of these medications and how monotherapy may compare with an approach that combines medications with therapy or other treatments.
This section of a case study should also include information about the treatment goals, process, and outcomes.
When you are writing a case study, you should also include a section where you discuss the case study itself, including the strengths and limitiations of the study. You should note how the findings of your case study might support previous research.
In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings might require further exploration? How might researchers go about exploring some of these questions in additional studies?
Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind when formatting your case study:
- Never refer to the subject of your case study as "the client." Instead, their name or a pseudonym.
- Read examples of case studies to gain an idea about the style and format.
- Remember to use APA format when citing references .
A Word From Verywell
Case studies can be a useful research tool, but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.
If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow. If you are writing your case study for professional publication, be sure to check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.
Simply Psychology. Case Study Method .
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By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
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An Introduction to Design Science pp 39–73 Cite as
Research Strategies and Methods
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- Erik Perjons 3
- First Online: 01 January 2014
Researchers have since centuries used research methods for supporting the creation of reliable knowledge based on empirical evidence and logical arguments. This chapter offers an overview of established research strategies and methods with a focus on empirical research in the social sciences. The chapter discusses research strategies, such as experiment, survey, case study, ethnography, grounded theory, action research, and phenomenology. Research methods for data collection are also described, including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observations, and documents. Qualitative and quantitative methods for data analysis are discussed. Finally, the use of research strategies and methods in design science is investigated.
- Focus Group
- Research Strategy
- Discourse Analysis
- Data Collection Method
- Inferential Statistic
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Case Study Research – Everything You Wanted to Know
Case study research remains a controversial data collection approach. However, it is recognized widely in different social studies. That’s because it enables researchers to provide in-depth explanations of different social behaviors.
Perhaps, you’re wondering, what is a case study research? Maybe you want to know what it involves. Well, this is a research method that utilizes reports from past studies. It allows researchers to explore and understand complex issues using those reports. This research method may be considered robust, especially when researchers require holistic, in-depth investigation.
Most social sciences recognize case study research design and methods and their roles have become more prominent. This approach is used to research and write about topics in education, sociology, and community-based issues like drug addiction, poverty, and unemployment.
What is Case Study Research?
In social studies, the case study is a research method in which a phenomenon is investigated in its real-life context. It’s an empirical inquiry and research strategy that is based on an in-depth investigation of a group, event, or individual to explore the underlying principles causes.
Essentially, this study can be defined as an exploratory and descriptive analysis of a case. But, what is a case study in research? Well, a case can be anything that a researcher wants to investigate. This can include a person, a group, an event, a decision, a policy, period, institution, or any other system that can be studied historically.
Methods Used in Case Study Research
This type of research uses the same study methodology with other research types. But, the most common case study research method starts with the definition of a single case. It can also be a group comprising similar cases. These can be incorporated for a multiple-case study.
This is followed by a search to determine what is already known about the case or cases. This search can involve a review of grey literature, reports, and media content. This review plays a critical role in enabling the researchers to understand the case. It also informs researchers when it comes to developing case study research questions.
In most case studies, data is often qualitative, though not exclusively. Thus, researchers engage in case study qualitative research. When researchers use multiple cases, they analyze each case separately. Themes can arise from assertions or analysis about the entire case.
Case study research methodology can include: Personal interviews Archival records Psychometric tests Direct observation
Case studies are more in-depth when compared to observational research. That’s because they use several records or measures while focusing on a single subject. In some cases, a multiple-case design can be used. What’s more, a case study can be retrospective or prospective. A retrospective case study uses criteria to choose cases from historical records. Prospective case studies, on the other hand, uses established criteria while including extra cases as long as they meet the set criteria.
Because case studies use qualitative data like the one collected from interviews, they tend to be more liable. However, quantitative data and questionnaires can also be used. For instance, a case study can be used in clinical research to monitor and determine the effectiveness of treatment.
Types of Case Study Research
When you research case study, you explore causation to identify the underlying principles. But, they can’t be generalized to a larger population the way researchers do when conducting experimental research. They also can’t provide predictive power the same way correlational research can do. Rather, they provide extensive data that can be used to develop new hypotheses that can be used for further research. It can also be used to study rare conditions or events that are hard-to-study.
A case study research paper can fall into any of these categories:
- Illustrative case study- This is a descriptive type of case study. It uses one or two instances to describe an event. The purpose of an illustrative case study is to make what is considered unfamiliar familiar. It also provides a common language for the readers about a subject.
- Exploratory case study- This is also called a pilot case study. It comprises condensed case studies that are performed before a large-scale investigation. Its purpose is to help researchers identify research questions and select the measurement types before the main investigation. The major drawback of this study is that it can make initial findings convincing and lead to their premature release as conclusions.
- Cumulative case study- This is a case study that entails the aggregation of information from different sources that were collected at varying times. The goal is to collect past studies to enhance generalization without spending more time or cost on new and probably repetitive studies.
- Critical instance case study- This examines one or several sites to examine a situation of specific interest with no or little interest in generalizing them. It can also be used to challenge or question universal or highly generalized assertions. This method can be used to answer the cause and effect study questions.
People may define case study research differently based on these major types of this investigation. Nevertheless, it’s an intensive and systematic investigation of a group, community, individuals, or other units where the researchers examine in-depth data that relate to several variables.
Example of Case Study Research
Case study definition in research may vary. However, students should be keen to choose topics they are comfortable researching and writing about. Here are case study research question examples that be used for this kind of investigation.
- How and why are employees abusing drugs at workplaces?
- How is social media influencing modern businesses?
- What are the most effective ways for small businesses to plan their advertising budget?
- How can social media ads help in driving customers?
- How can employees engage during tough times?
- How can a business consider small customers to make bigger profits?
- How good is care quality for complex patients at major Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics?
- How effective are pediatric pain management practices by nurses?
Different data collection methods can be used to assess and understand each case separately. This can lead to a better understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The goal of the case study research design is to provide a framework that can be used to evaluate and analyze complex issues. For instance, in the last two examples above, a case study can be used to shed light on the nursing practice as a holistic approach. It can also provide a perspective that will inform the nurses to give improved care to their patients.
How to Do Case Study Research
When writing a case study paper, follow these steps, suggested by our writing professionals :
- Determine the case to study, data collection methods, and the information to gather.
- Select the subjects or people to participate in the case study.
- Prepare relevant materials like questionnaires to collect relevant information. This should also include your research problem.
- Use the collected data to write your case.
- Add the appendices and references
- Proofread and edit your final case study paper
In a nutshell, a case study entails collecting data that leads to a better understanding of a phenomenon. The methodology of a case study provides a framework that is used to analyze and evaluate more complex issues.
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Definition of Case Study
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- A case study is a research methodology that has commonly used in social sciences.
- A case study is a research strategy and an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context.
- Case studies are based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group or event to explore the causes of underlying principles.
- A case study is a descriptive and exploratory analysis of a person, group or event.
- A case study reserach can be single or multiple case studies, includes quantitative evidence, relies on multiple sources of evidence and benefits from the prior development of theoritical propositions.
- Case studies are analysis of persons, groups, events, decisions, periods, policies, institutions or other systems that are studied holistically by one or more methods.
How to write a case study.
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Case Study Research Method in Psychology
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Case studies are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event, or community. Typically, data is gathered from various sources and by using several different methods (e.g., observations & interviews ).
What are Case Studies?
The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e., the patient’s personal history). In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.
The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual’s past (i.e., retrospective), as well as to significant events which are currently occurring in his or her everyday life.
The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies.
Case studies are widely used in psychology, and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud, including Anna O and Little Hans .
Freud (1909a, 1909b) conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses. Even today, case histories are one of the main methods of investigation in abnormal psychology and psychiatry.
This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist, i.e., someone with a professional qualification.
There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical (i.e., abnormal) behavior or atypical development.
The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior. This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation.
The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view. The researcher then writes up the information from both sources above as the case study and interprets the information.
The research may also continue for an extended period of time, so processes and developments can be studied as they happen.
Amongst the sources of data the psychologist is likely to turn to when carrying out a case study are observations of a person’s daily routine, unstructured interviews with the participant herself (and with people who know her), diaries, personal notes (e.g., letters, photographs, notes) or official document (e.g., case notes, clinical notes, appraisal reports).
The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to or reconstructing ‘the case history’ of a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i.e., the idiographic approach .
The interview is also an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person’s friends, parents, employer, workmates, and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself.
Most of this information is likely to be qualitative (i.e., verbal description rather than measurement), but the psychologist might collect numerical data as well.
The data collected can be analyzed using different theories (e.g., grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, text interpretation, e.g., thematic coding).
All the approaches mentioned here use preconceived categories in the analysis, and they are ideographic in their approach, i.e., they focus on the individual case without reference to a comparison group.
Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always clarify which information is the factual description and which is an inference or the researcher’s opinion.
- Provides detailed (rich qualitative) information.
- Provides insight for further research.
- Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical (or unethical) situations.
Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’.
Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach, case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways.
Research that only looks into the measurable aspects of human behavior is not likely to give us insights into the subjective dimension of experience, which is important to psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists.
Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas (that might be tested by other methods). They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person’s life are related to each other.
The method is, therefore, important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view (i.e., humanistic psychologists ).
- Lacking scientific rigor and providing little basis for generalization of results to the wider population.
- Researchers’ own subjective feelings may influence the case study (researcher bias).
- Difficult to replicate.
- Time-consuming and expensive.
- The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources.
Because a case study deals with only one person/event/group, we can never be sure if the case study investigated is representative of the wider body of “similar” instances. This means the conclusions drawn from a particular case may not be transferable to other settings.
Because case studies are based on the analysis of qualitative (i.e., descriptive) data, a lot depends on the psychologist’s interpretation of the information she has acquired.
This means that there is a lot of scope for observer bias , and it could be that the subjective opinions of the psychologist intrude in the assessment of what the data means.
For example, Freud has been criticized for producing case studies in which the information was sometimes distorted to fit particular behavioral theories (e.g., Little Hans ).
This is also true of Money’s interpretation of the Bruce/Brenda case study (Diamond, 1997) when he ignored evidence that went against his theory.
How to reference this article:
McLeod, S. A. (2019, August 03). Case study method . Simply Psychology. simplypsychology.org/case-study.html
Diamond, M., & Sigmundson, K. (1997). Sex Reassignment at Birth: Long-term Review and Clinical Implications. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine , 151(3), 298-304
Freud, S. (1909a). Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. In The Pelican Freud Library (1977), Vol 8, Case Histories 1, pages 169-306
Freud, S. (1909b). Bemerkungen über einen Fall von Zwangsneurose (Der “Rattenmann”). Jb. psychoanal. psychopathol. Forsch ., I, p. 357-421; GW, VII, p. 379-463; Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis, SE , 10: 151-318.
Case Study Approach Case Study Method
Enhancing the Quality of Case Studies in Health Services Research
“We do things together” A case study of “couplehood” in dementia
Using mixed methods for evaluating an integrative approach to cancer care: a case study
Freud’s Case Studies
Little Hans – Freudian Case Study
H.M. Case Study
Anna O – Freudian Case Study
Genie Case Study – Curtiss (1977)
Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments
- Annotated Bibliography
- Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
- Group Presentations
- Dealing with Nervousness
- Using Visual Aids
- Grading Someone Else's Paper
- Types of Structured Group Activities
- Group Project Survival Skills
- Leading a Class Discussion
- Multiple Book Review Essay
- Reviewing Collected Works
- Writing a Case Analysis Paper
- Writing a Case Study
- About Informed Consent
- Writing Field Notes
- Writing a Policy Memo
- Writing a Reflective Paper
- Writing a Research Proposal
A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.
Case Studies. [email protected] Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.
How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper
General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.
However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:
- The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
- The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
- The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
- The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
- The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].
Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.
Structure and Writing Style
The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.
In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.
As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:
- What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
- Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
- What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
- How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.
Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.
II. Literature Review
The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:
- Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
- Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
- Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
- Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
- Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
- Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
- Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.
In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.
If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.
If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].
If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].
If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.
NOTE: The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.
The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:
Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.
Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.
Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.
Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.
Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .
Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.
As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.
The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.
Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:
- If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
- If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
- Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.
Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.
Problems to Avoid
Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.
Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.
Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.
Case Studies. [email protected] Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009; Kratochwill, Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education . Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.
At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research
Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:
Misunderstanding 1 : General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 : One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 : The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 : The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 : It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].
While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.
Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.
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- Explanatory Research | Definition, Guide, & Examples
Explanatory Research | Definition, Guide, & Examples
Published on December 3, 2021 by Tegan George and Julia Merkus. Revised on January 20, 2023.
Explanatory research is a research method that explores why something occurs when limited information is available. It can help you increase your understanding of a given topic, ascertain how or why a particular phenomenon is occurring, and predict future occurrences.
Explanatory research can also be explained as a “cause and effect” model, investigating patterns and trends in existing data that haven’t been previously investigated. For this reason, it is often considered a type of causal research .
Table of contents
When to use explanatory research, explanatory research questions, explanatory research data collection, explanatory research data analysis, step-by-step example of explanatory research, explanatory vs. exploratory research, advantages and disadvantages of explanatory research, frequently asked questions about explanatory research.
Explanatory research is used to investigate how or why a phenomenon takes place. Therefore, this type of research is often one of the first stages in the research process, serving as a jumping-off point for future research. While there is often data available about your topic, it’s possible the particular causal relationship you are interested in has not been robustly studied.
Explanatory research helps you analyze these patterns, formulating hypotheses that can guide future endeavors. If you are seeking a more complete understanding of a relationship between variables, explanatory research is a great place to start. However, keep in mind that it will likely not yield conclusive results.
You analyzed their final grades and noticed that the students who take your course in the first semester always obtain higher grades than students who take the same course in the second semester.
Explanatory research answers “why” and “how” questions, leading to an improved understanding of a previously unresolved problem or providing clarity for related future research initiatives.
Here are a few examples:
- Why do undergraduate students obtain higher average grades in the first semester than in the second semester?
- How does marital status affect labor market participation?
- Why do multilingual individuals show more risky behavior during business negotiations than monolingual individuals?
- How does a child’s ability to delay immediate gratification predict success later in life?
- Why are teens more likely to litter in a highly littered area than in a clean area?
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After choosing your research question, there is a variety of options for research and data collection methods to choose from.
A few of the most common research methods include:
- Literature reviews
- Interviews and focus groups
- Pilot studies
The method you choose depends on several factors, including your timeline, budget, and the structure of your question. If there is already a body of research on your topic, a literature review is a great place to start. If you are interested in opinions and behavior, consider an interview or focus group format. If you have more time or funding available, an experiment or pilot study may be a good fit for you.
In order to ensure you are conducting your explanatory research correctly, be sure your analysis is definitively causal in nature, and not just correlated.
Always remember the phrase “correlation doesn’t mean causation.” Correlated variables are merely associated with one another: when one variable changes, so does the other. However, this isn’t necessarily due to a direct or indirect causal link.
Causation means that changes in the independent variable bring about changes in the dependent variable. In other words, there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between variables.
Causal evidence must meet three criteria:
- Temporal : What you define as the “cause” must precede what you define as the “effect.”
- Variation : Intervention must be systematic between your independent variable and dependent variable.
- Non-spurious : Be careful that there are no mitigating factors or hidden third variables that confound your results.
Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but causation always implies correlation. In order to get conclusive causal results, you’ll need to conduct a full experimental design .
Your explanatory research design depends on the research method you choose to collect your data . In most cases, you’ll use an experiment to investigate potential causal relationships. We’ll walk you through the steps using an example.
Step 1: Develop the research question
The first step in conducting explanatory research is getting familiar with the topic you’re interested in, so that you can develop a research question .
Let’s say you’re interested in language retention rates in adults.
You are interested in finding out how the duration of exposure to language influences language retention ability later in life.
Step 2: Formulate a hypothesis
The next step is to address your expectations. In some cases, there is literature available on your subject or on a closely related topic that you can use as a foundation for your hypothesis . In other cases, the topic isn’t well studied, and you’ll have to develop your hypothesis based on your instincts or on existing literature on more distant topics.
You phrase your expectations in terms of a null (H 0 ) and alternative hypothesis (H 1 ):
- H 0 : The duration of exposure to a language in infancy does not influence language retention in adults who were adopted from abroad as children.
- H 1 : The duration of exposure to a language in infancy has a positive effect on language retention in adults who were adopted from abroad as children.
Step 3: Design your methodology and collect your data
Next, decide what data collection and data analysis methods you will use and write them up. After carefully designing your research, you can begin to collect your data.
- Adults who were adopted from Colombia between 0 and 6 months of age.
- Adults who were adopted from Colombia between 6 and 12 months of age.
- Adults who were adopted from Colombia between 12 and 18 months of age.
- Monolingual adults who have not been exposed to a different language.
During the study, you test their Spanish language proficiency twice in a research design that has three stages:
- Pre-test : You conduct several language proficiency tests to establish any differences between groups pre-intervention.
- Intervention : You provide all groups with 8 hours of Spanish class.
- Post-test : You again conduct several language proficiency tests to establish any differences between groups post-intervention.
You made sure to control for any confounding variables , such as age, gender, proficiency in other languages, etc.
Step 4: Analyze your data and report results
After data collection is complete, proceed to analyze your data and report the results.
You notice that:
- The pre-exposed adults showed higher language proficiency in Spanish than those who had not been pre-exposed. The difference is even greater for the post-test.
- The adults who were adopted between 12 and 18 months of age had a higher Spanish language proficiency level than those who were adopted between 0 and 6 months or 6 and 12 months of age, but there was no difference found between the latter two groups.
To determine whether these differences are significant, you conduct a mixed ANOVA. The ANOVA shows that all differences are not significant for the pre-test, but they are significant for the post-test.
Step 5: Interpret your results and provide suggestions for future research
As you interpret the results, try to come up with explanations for the results that you did not expect. In most cases, you want to provide suggestions for future research.
However, this difference is only significant after the intervention (the Spanish class.)
You decide it’s worth it to further research the matter, and propose a few additional research ideas:
- Replicate the study with a larger sample
- Replicate the study for other maternal languages (e.g. Korean, Lingala, Arabic)
- Replicate the study for other language aspects, such as nativeness of the accent
It can be easy to confuse explanatory research with exploratory research. If you’re in doubt about the relationship between exploratory and explanatory research, just remember that exploratory research lays the groundwork for later explanatory research.
Exploratory research questions often begin with “what”. They are designed to guide future research and do not usually have conclusive results. Exploratory research is often utilized as a first step in your research process, to help you focus your research question and fine-tune your hypotheses.
Explanatory research questions often start with “why” or “how”. They help you study why and how a previously studied phenomenon takes place.
Like any other research design , explanatory research has its trade-offs: while it provides a unique set of benefits, it also has significant downsides:
- It gives more meaning to previous research. It helps fill in the gaps in existing analyses and provides information on the reasons behind phenomena.
- It is very flexible and often replicable , since the internal validity tends to be high when done correctly.
- As you can often use secondary research, explanatory research is often very cost- and time-effective, allowing you to utilize pre-existing resources to guide your research prior to committing to heavier analyses.
- While explanatory research does help you solidify your theories and hypotheses, it usually lacks conclusive results.
- Results can be biased or inadmissible to a larger body of work and are not generally externally valid . You will likely have to conduct more robust (often quantitative ) research later to bolster any possible findings gleaned from explanatory research.
- Coincidences can be mistaken for causal relationships , and it can sometimes be challenging to ascertain which is the causal variable and which is the effect.
Explanatory research is a research method used to investigate how or why something occurs when only a small amount of information is available pertaining to that topic. It can help you increase your understanding of a given topic.
Exploratory research aims to explore the main aspects of an under-researched problem, while explanatory research aims to explain the causes and consequences of a well-defined problem.
Explanatory research is used to investigate how or why a phenomenon occurs. Therefore, this type of research is often one of the first stages in the research process , serving as a jumping-off point for future research.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.
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Encyclopedia of Case Study Research
- Edited by: Albert J. Mills , Gabrielle Durepos & Elden Wiebe
- Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc.
- Publication year: 2010
- Online pub date: December 27, 2012
- Discipline: Anthropology , Business and Management , Criminology and Criminal Justice , Communication and Media Studies , Economics , Education , Geography , Health , Marketing , Nursing , Political Science and International Relations , Psychology , Social Policy and Public Policy , Social Work , Sociology
- Methods: Case study research
- DOI: https:// doi. org/10.4135/9781412957397
- Print ISBN: 9781412956703
- Online ISBN: 9781412957397
- Buy the book icon link
Entries a-z, subject index.
Case study research has a long history within the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, dating back to the early 1920's. At first it was a useful way for researchers to make valid inferences from events outside the laboratory in ways consistent with the rigorous practices of investigation inside the lab. Over time, case study approaches garnered interest in multiple disciplines as scholars studied phenomena in context. Despite widespread use, case study research has received little attention among the literature on research strategies.
The Encyclopedia of Case Study Research provides a compendium on the important methodological issues in conducting case study research and explores both the strengths and weaknesses of different paradigmatic approaches. These two volumes focus on the distinctive characteristics of case study research and its place within and alongside other research methodologies.
Presents a definition of case study research that can be used in different fields of study; Describes case study as a research strategy rather than as a single tool for decision making and inquiry; Guides rather than dictates, readers understanding and applications of case study research; Includes a critical summary in each entry, which raises additional matters for reflection; Makes case study relevant to researchers at various stages of their careers, across philosophic divides, and throughout diverse disciplines
Academic Disciplines; Case Study Research Design; Conceptual Issues; Data Analysis; Data Collection; Methodological Approaches; Theoretical Traditions; Theory Development and Contributions
From Case Study Research
Types of Case Study Research
- Editorial Board
- List of Entries
- Reader's Guide
- About the Editors
- Selected Bibliography: Case Study Publications by Contributing Authors
- Case Study Research in Anthropology
- Before-and-After Case Study Design
- Action-Based Data Collection
- Activity Theory
- Case Study and Theoretical Science
- Analytic Generalization
- Case Study Research in Business and Management
- Blended Research Design
- Bayesian Inference and Boolean Logic
- Analysis of Visual Data
- Actor-Network Theory
- Chicago School
- Case Study as a Teaching Tool
- Case Study Research in Business Ethics
- Bounding the Case
- Authenticity and Bad Faith
- Anonymity and Confidentiality
- Case Study in Creativity Research
- Case Study Research in Education
- Case Selection
- Author Intentionality
- Case-to-Case Synthesis
- Anonymizing Data for Secondary Use
- Concatenated Theory
- Case Study Research in Tourism
- Case Study Research in Feminism
- Causal Case Study: Explanatory Theories
- Archival Records as Evidence
- Base and Superstructure
- Critical Realism
- Conceptual Argument
- Case Study With the Elderly
- Case Study Research in Medicine
- Case Within a Case
- Contentious Issues in Case Study Research
- Chronological Order
- Audiovisual Recording
- Case Study as a Methodological Approach
- Critical Theory
- Conceptual Model: Causal Model
- Collective Case Study
- Case Study Research in Political Science
- Comparative Case Study
- Cultural Sensitivity and Case Study
- Coding: Axial Coding
- Dialectical Materialism
- Conceptual Model: Operationalization
- Configurative-Ideographic Case Study
- Case Study Research in Psychology
- Critical Incident Case Study
- Dissertation Proposal
- Coding: Open Coding
- Case Study Database
- Class Analysis
- Conceptual Model in a Qualitative Research Project
- Critical Pedagogy and Digital Technology
- Case Study Research in Public Policy
- Cross-Sectional Design
- Ecological Perspectives
- Coding: Selective Coding
- Case Study Protocol
- Conceptual Model in a Quantitative Research Project
- Diagnostic Case Study Research
- Decision Making Under Uncertainty
- Cognitive Biases
- Case Study Surveys
- Codifying Social Practices
- Contribution, Theoretical
- Explanatory Case Study
- Deductive-Nomological Model of Explanation
- Masculinity and Femininity
- Cognitive Mapping
- Consent, Obtaining Participant
- Communicative Action
- Formative Context
- Exploratory Case Study
- Deviant Case Analysis
- Communicative Framing Analysis
- Community of Practice
- Frame Analysis
- Docile Bodies
- Discursive Frame
- Comparing the Case Study With Other Methodologies
- Historical Materialism
- Institutional Ethnography
- Healthcare Practice Guidelines
- Computer-Based Analysis of Qualitative Data: ATLAS.ti
- Consciousness Raising
- Instrumental Case Study
- Pedagogy and Case Study
- Pluralism and Case Study
- Computer-Based Analysis of Qualitative Data: CAITA (Computer-Assisted Interpretive Textual Analysis)
- Data Resources
- Liberal Feminism
- Explanation Building
- Intercultural Performance
- Event-Driven Research
- Computer-Based Analysis of Qualitative Data: Kwalitan
- Depth of Data
- Critical Discourse Analysis
- Extension of Theory
- Intrinsic Case Study
- Exemplary Case Design
- Computer-Based Analysis of Qualitative Data: MAXQDA 2007
- Diaries and Journals
- Critical Sensemaking
- Limited-Depth Case Study
- Extended Case Method
- Computer-Based Analysis of Qualitative Data: NVIVO
- Direct Observation as Evidence
- North American Case Research Association
- Multimedia Case Studies
- Extreme Cases
- Researcher as Research Tool
- Concept Mapping
- Discourse Analysis
- Decentering Texts
- Participatory Action Research
- Congruence Analysis
- Documentation as Evidence
- Paradigm Plurality in Case Study Research
- Participatory Case Study
- Holistic Designs
- Constant Causal Effects Assumption
- Dialogic Inquiry
- Philosophy of Science
- Content Analysis
- Fiction Analysis
- Discourse Ethics
- Integrating Independent Case Studies
- Conversation Analysis
- Field Notes
- Double Hermeneutic
- Processual Case Research
- Cross-Case Synthesis and Analysis
- Macrolevel Social Mechanisms
- Program Evaluation and Case Study
- Longitudinal Research
- Going Native
- Ethnographic Memoir
- Middle-Range Theory
- Program-Logic Model
- Mental Framework
- Document Analysis
- Informant Bias
- Naturalistic Generalization
- Prospective Case Study
- Mixed Methods in Case Study Research
- Factor Analysis
- Poststructuralist Feminism
- Real-Time Cases
- Most Different Systems Design
- Radical Empiricism
- Retrospective Case Study
- High-Quality Analysis
- Iterative Nodes
- Radical Feminism
- Probabilistic Explanation
- Re-Use of Qualitative Data
- Multiple-Case Designs
- Language and Cultural Barriers
- Process Tracing
- Single-Case Designs
- Multi-Site Case Study
- Interactive Methodology, Feminist
- Multiple Sources of Evidence
- Scientific Method
- Spiral Case Study
- Naturalistic Inquiry
- Interpreting Results
- Narrative Analysis
- Front Stage and Back Stage
- Scientific Realism
- Reporting Case Study Research
- Natural Science Model
- Socialist Feminism
- Rhetoric in Research Reporting
- Number of Cases
- Naturalistic Context
- Symbolic Interactionism
- Statistical Generalization
- Outcome-Driven Research
- Knowledge Production
- Nonparticipant Observation
- Substantive Theory
- Paradigmatic Cases
- Method of Agreement
- Grounded Theory
- Theory-Building With Cases
- Method of Difference
- Theory-Testing With Cases
- Participant Observation
- Multidimensional Scaling
- Polar Types
- Institutional Theory, Old and New
- Problem Formulation
- Pattern Matching
- Personality Tests
- Quantitative Single-Case Research Design
- Re-Analysis of Previous Data
- Quasi-Experimental Design
- Regulating Group Mind
- Langue and Parôle
- Quick Start to Case Study Research
- Relational Analysis
- Layered Nature of Texts
- Random Assignment
- Life History
- Research Framework
- Research Objectives
- Rival Explanations
- Repeated Observations
- Management of Impressions
- Research Proposals
- Secondary Data as Primary
- Researcher-Participant Relationship
- Means of Production
- Research Questions, Types of Retrospective Case Study
- Serendipity Pattern
- Situational Analysis
- Sensitizing Concepts
- Modes of Production
- Standpoint Analysis
- Multimethod Research Program
- Socially Distributed Knowledge
- Statistical Analysis
- Subject Rights
- Multiple Selfing
- Theoretical Saturation
- Native Points of View
- Statistics, Use of in Case Study
- Temporal Bracketing
- Negotiated Order
- Textual Analysis
- Use of Digital Data
- Network Analysis
- Thematic Analysis
- One-Dimensional Culture
- Visual Research Methods
- Ordinary Troubles
- Theory, Role of
- Organizational Culture
- Webs of Significance
- Within-Case Analysis
- Practice-Oriented Research
- Qualitative Analysis in Case Study
- Qualitative Comparative Analysis
- Self-Confrontation Method
- Signifier and Signified
- Sign System
- Social-Interaction Theory
- Symbolic Value
- Symbolic Violence
- Thick Description
- Writing and Difference
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SONAC commissioned RAND Europe to refine their working definition of strategic advantage. The team, which also drew in leading UK academics, used a multimethod research approach involving the development of case studies and expert workshops. The study explored the types of advantage held by different actors, the ways in which these can been gained and/or lost, and the ways in which actors seek to maintain and exploit their advantages in practice.
Strategic advantage in a competitive age
Definitions, dynamics and implications
by James Black , Diana Dascalu , Megan Hughes , Benedict Wilkinson , Maeve Ryan , Ahron Bregman , Peter Carlyon , Jennifer Cheung , Lawrence Freedman , Rebecca Lucas , et al.
- Related Topics:
- Geopolitical Strategic Competition ,
- International Economic Relations ,
- Military Strategy ,
- Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy ,
- United Kingdom ,
- Warfare and Military Operations
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Does not include Annexes.
- What are the drivers and dynamics of competition among great powers?
- What are the different dimensions, features, and components of strategic advantage?
- Which characteristics influence an actor's potential for achieving strategic advantage?
Strategic competition and the pursuit of strategic advantage are foundational concepts in UK, U.S. and Allied strategy and policy documents. However, there is no universally agreed definition or theory of strategic advantage, what it comprises, and how it works. This risks strategies, policies, plans, and behaviours being built on faulty assumptions.
Given these conceptual and definitional issues, the Secretary of State's Office for Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC) in the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) commissioned RAND Europe to offer an independent, evidence-based perspective and refine the current working definition of strategic advantage. The RAND-led team, which also drew in leading academics, did so through the application of a multi-method research approach involving the development of a series of twelve historical case studies and a series of expert workshops.
This study explored the types of strategic advantage held by different actors, the ways in which these can been gained and/or lost, and the ways in which nations seek to maintain and exploit their advantages in practice as part of great power competition.
- Strategic advantage is comprised of individual strands of advantage or disadvantage relating to all available levers of power.
- Strategic advantage is time-dependent and context-dependent but can be 'future-proofed' to mitigate the risks of being overtaken by a competitor.
- A position of overall strategic advantage can relate to both adversaries and friendly actors, given competition represents a broad continuum of relations.
- The UK should use strategic partnerships to shoulder the weight of competition and conflict, and to overcome limits on national capabilities.
- The UK should consider new partnerships of convenience to adapt to the changing operating environment and to achieve different goals at different times.
- The UK should better combine all instruments of power to favourably shape public opinion at home and abroad, to enhance power projection abroad, and to enhance and leverage the potential of science and technology.
Table of Contents
Conceptualising strategic advantage in theory
Understanding strategic advantage through history
Defining strategic advantage
Achieving strategic advantage
Conclusions and next steps
Research conducted by
- RAND Europe
The research described in this report was commissioned by the Secretary of State's Office for Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC) within the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and conducted by RAND Europe .
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions .
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.
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Inductive Learning: Examples, Definition, Pros, Cons
Inductive learning is a teaching strategy where students discover operational principles by observing examples.
It is used in inquiry-based and project-based learning where the goal is to learn through observation rather than being ‘told’ the answers by the teacher.
It is consistent with a constructivist approach to learning as it holds that knowledge should be constructed in the mind rather than transferred from the teacher to student.
Inductive Learning Definition
Inductive learning involves the students ‘constructing’ theories and ideas through observation. We contrast it to deductive learning , where the teacher presents the theories then students examine examples.
It is argued that learning with the inductive approach results in deep cognitive processing of information, creative independent thinking, and a rich understanding of the concepts involved.
It can also lead to long memory retention and strong transferability of knowledge to other situations.
Prince and Felder (2006) highlight that this concept explains a range of approaches to teaching and learning:
“Inductive teaching and learning is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of instructional methods, including inquiry learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, case-based teaching, discovery learning, and just-in-time teaching” (Prince & Felder, 2006, p. 124).
Inductive Learning vs Deductive Learning
While both inductive and deductive learning are used in education, they are distinct in terms of their underlying principles and teaching methods.
Generally, inductive learning is a bottom-up approach meaning the observations precede the conclusions. It involves making observations, recognizing patterns, and forming generalizations.
On the other hand, deductive learning is a top-down approach meaning that it involves a teacher presenting general principles which are then examined using scientific research.
Both are legitimate methods, and in fact, despite its limitations, many students get a lot of pleasure out of doing deductive research in a physics or chemistry class.
Below is a table comparing the differences:
Inductive Learning Strengths and Limitations
Inductive learning is praised as an effective approach because it involves students constructing knowledge through observation, active learning and trial and error.
As a result, it helps develop critical thinking skills and fosters creativity because students must create the theories rather than being presented with them at the beginning of the lesson.
However, inductive learning isn’t always beneficial. To start with, students often don’t understand what the end goal of the activity is, which leads to confusion and disillusionment.
Secondly, it can be more challenging for novice learners who don’t have strong frameworks for systematic analysis and naturalistic observation .
Below is a table summary of the strengths and weaknesses:
Inductive Learning Examples
- Mrs. Williams shows her art students a wide range of masterpieces from different genres. Students then develop their own categorical definitions and classify the artwork accordingly.
- Children in third grade are shown photos of different musical instruments and then asked to categorize them based on their own definitions.
- A company has customers try out a new product while the design team observes behind a two-way mirror. The team tries to identify common concerns, operational issues, and desirable features.
- A team of researchers observes the verbal interactions between parents and children in households. They then try to identify patterns and characteristics that affect language acquisition.
- A biologist observes the foraging and hunting behavior of the Artic fox to determine types of terrain and environmental features conducive to survival.
- Researchers interested in group dynamics and decision-making analyze the functional statements of personnel during meetings and try to find patterns that facilitate problem-solving.
- Chef Phillips presents 5 desserts to his students and asks them to identify the qualities that make each one distinct….and tasty.
- Dr. Guttierrez gives each team of students in his advertising class a set of effective and ineffective commercials. Each team then develops a set of criteria for what makes a good commercial.
- The Career Center shows a range of video-recorded job interviews and asks students to identify the characteristics that make some of them impressive and others not.
- Kumar demonstrates different yoga poses in a Far East Religions class and then the students try to identify the areas of the body and problem each pose is meant to address.
Case Studies and Research Basis
1. inductive learning in an inquiry-based classroom.
On the surface, this would appear to be a very straightforward question with a very straightforward answer. Many formal definitions share several common characteristics: existence of a m etabolism, replication, evolution, responsiveness, growth, movement, and cellular structure.
However, Prud’homme-Généreux (2013) points out that in one popular biology textbook there are 48 different experts offering different definitions.
In this inductive learning class activity by Prud’homme-Généreux (2013), the instructor prepares two sets of cards (A and B). Each card in set A contains an image of a living organism; each card in set B contains an image of an object that is not living.
Before distributing the cards, teams of 3 are formed and asked:
Why do we need a definition of life?
Each team then generates a new definition of life. Afterwards, the teams receive 3 cards from both sets.
For class discussion, one characteristic of a team’s definition is written on the board. Teams examine their cards and determine if that characteristic applies.
“…that the approach elicits curiosity, triggers questions, and leads to a more nuanced understanding of the concept…leads to confidence in their ability to think.”
2. Inductive Learning in Peer Assessment
Inductive learning methods can be applied in a wide range of circumstances. One strategy is aimed at helping students understand grading criteria and how to develop a critical eye for their work and the work of others.
The procedure involves having students form teams of 3-5. The instructor then supplies each team with 5 essays that vary in terms of quality and assigned grade.
Each team examines the essays, discuss them amongst themselves, and then try to identify the grading criteria.
Class discussion can ensue with the instructor projecting new essays on the board and asking the class to apply their team’s criteria.
This activity is an excellent way for students to develop a deeper understanding of the grading process.
3. Problem-Based Inductive Learning in Medical School
The conventional approach to teaching involves the teacher presenting the principles of a subject and then having students apply that knowledge to different situations. As effective as that approach is, medical schools have found that student learning is more advanced with a problem-based inductive approach.
So, instead of students being told what the symptoms are for a specific disease, students are presented with a clinical case and then work together to identify the ailment.
Although each team is assigned an experienced tutor, they try to provide as little assistance as possible.
Medical schools have found that this form of inductive learning leads to a much deeper understanding of medical conditions and helps students develop the kind of advanced critical-thinking skills they will need throughout their careers.
4. Inductive Learning in Traffic Management
Traffic management involves controlling the movement of people and vehicles. The goal is to ensure safety and improve flow efficiency. In the early days of traffic management, personnel would monitor traffic conditions at various times of the day, and try to identify patterns in traffic dynamics and the causal factors involved.
Those insights were then extrapolated to the broader city context and various rules and regulations were devised.
Today, much of that inductive analysis is conducted through sophisticated software algorithms. Through carefully placed cameras, the software tracks traffic flow, identifies operating paramenters, and then devises solutions to improve flow rate and safety.
For example, the software will monitor average traffic speed, congestion detection, journey times between key locations, as well as vehicle counts and flow rate estimates.
Traffic management is an example of software that is capable of inductive learning.
5. Inductive Learning in Theory Development
Inductive learning is a key way in which scholars and researchers come up with ground-breaking theories. One example is in Mary Ainsworth’s observational research, where she used observations to induce a theory, as explained below.
Although most people mention the Strange Situations test developed by Dr. Mary Ainsworth, she conducted naturalistic observations many years prior to its initial creation.
For two years, starting in 1954, she visited the homes of families in Uganda. She took detailed notes on infant/caregiver interactions, in addition to interviewing mothers about their parenting practices.
Through inductive reasoning and learning, she was able to identify patterns of behavior that could be categorized into several distinct attachment profiles.
Along with her work with John Bowlby, these notes formed the basis of her theory of attachment.
As reported by Bretherton (2013),
“…secure-attached infants cried little and engaged in exploration when their mother was present, while insecure-attached infants were frequently fussy even with mother in the same room” (p. 461).
Inductive learning is when students are presented with examples and case studies from which they are to derive fundamental principles and characteristics.
It many ways, it is the opposite of conventional instructional strategies where teachers define the principles and then students apply them to examples.
Inductive learning is a powerful approach. It leads to students developing a very rich understanding of the subject under study, increases student engagement, prolongs retention, and helps build student confidence in their ability to learn.
We can see examples of inductive learning in the world’s best medical schools, research that has had a profound impact on our understanding of infant/caregiver relations, and even its use by sophisticated algorithms that control traffic in our largest cities.
Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1967). Infancy in Uganda . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Bretherton, I. (2013). Revisiting Mary Ainsworth’s conceptualization and assessments of maternal sensitivity-insensitivity. Attachment & Human Development, 15 (5–6), 460–484. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2013.835128
Prince, M. & Felder, R. (2006). Inductive teaching and learning methods: Definitions, comparisons, and research bases. Journal of Engineering Education, 95 , 123-137. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2006.tb00884.x
Prud’homme-Généreux, A. (2013). What Is Life? An Activity to Convey the Complexities of This Simple Question. The American Biology Teacher, 75 (1), 53-57.
Shemwell, J. T., Chase, C. C., & Schwartz, D. L. (2015). Seeking the general explanation: A test of inductive activities for learning and transfer. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52 (1), 58-83.
Lahav, N. (1999). Biogenesis: Theories of life’s origin . Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
Dave Cornell (PhD)
Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.
- Dave Cornell (PhD) #molongui-disabled-link 18 Guiding Questions Examples
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Chris Drew (PhD)
This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.
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A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research. A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are sometimes also used.
Case study is a research method that involves an in-depth, detailed examination of a single unit, such as an individual, family, group, organization, community, or event. Case studies are usually conducted by sociologists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, or researchers from other social science disciplines.
Although case studies have been discussed extensively in the literature, little has been written about the specific steps one may use to conduct case study research effectively (Gagnon, 2010; Hancock & Algozzine, 2016).Baskarada (2014) also emphasized the need to have a succinct guideline that can be practically followed as it is actually tough to execute a case study well in practice.
current definitions also refer to case study as a method, strategy, research design, or methodology. To call case study a method (a term commonly confused with methodology) would imply that case study is a technique, procedure, or means for gathering evidence or collecting data.
A case study occurs when a researcher investigates an entity or phenomenon (case) using various data collection techniques and collects detailed information during the period (Starman, 2013;...
Although case study methods remain a controversial approach to data collection, they are widely recognised in many social science studies especially when in-depth explanations of a social...
A research strategy seldom used in the caring sciences is the case study. A case study is an empirical in-depth inquiry about an individual, family, group or organization. It is preferable when 'how' and 'why' questions are asked. The case study is mainly used to explain those causal links in real-l …
Research strategy provides the overall direction of the research including the process by which the research is conducted. Case study, experiment, survey, action research, grounded...
A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.
The use of case study as a research strategy is discussed and justified by presenting the ... definition included; case study deals with technically distinctive situation, relies on multiple sources of evidence, and benefits from prior development of theoretical prepositions to guide data collection and analysis. Yin (2003a) identified
A research strategy is an overall plan for conducting a research study. A research strategy guides a researcher in planning, executing, and monitoring the study. While the research strategy provides useful support on a high level, it needs to be complemented with research methods that can guide the research work on a more detailed level.
In social studies, the case study is a research method in which a phenomenon is investigated in its real-life context. It's an empirical inquiry and research strategy that is based on an in-depth investigation of a group, event, or individual to explore the underlying principles causes.
A case study is a research methodology that has commonly used in social sciences. A case study is a research strategy and an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. Case studies are based on an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group or event to explore the causes of underlying principles.
The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior. This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation. The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view.
A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem.
Explanatory Research | Definition, Guide, & Examples. Published on December 3, 2021 by Tegan George and Julia Merkus. Revised on January 20, 2023. Explanatory research is a research method that explores why something occurs when limited information is available. It can help you increase your understanding of a given topic, ascertain how or why a particular phenomenon is occurring, and predict ...
Case study is a research methodology, typically seen in social and life sciences. There is no one definition of case study research.1 However, very simply… 'a case study can be defined as an intensive study about a person, a group of people or a unit, which is aimed to generalize over several units'.1 A case study has also been described as an intensive, systematic investigation of a ...
Presents a definition of case study research that can be used in different fields of study; Describes case study as a research strategy rather than as a single tool for decision making and inquiry; Guides rather than dictates, readers understanding and applications of case study research; Includes a critical summary in each entry, which raises ...
The team, which also drew in leading UK academics, used a multimethod research approach involving the development of case studies and expert workshops. The study explored the types of advantage held by different actors, the ways in which these can been gained and/or lost, and the ways in which actors seek to maintain and exploit their ...
Case study is a research methodology, typically seen in social and life sciences. There is no one definition of case study research.1 However, very simply… 'a case study can be defined as an intensive study about a person, a group of ... nise and data analysis and integration strategies need to be carefully thought through. There is also ...
By Dave Cornell (PhD) and Peer Reviewed by Chris Drew (PhD) / March 6, 2023. Inductive learning is a teaching strategy where students discover operational principles by observing examples. It is used in inquiry-based and project-based learning where the goal is to learn through observation rather than being 'told' the answers by the teacher.
There are multiple definitions of case studies, which may emphasize the number of observations (a small N), the method ( qualitative ), the thickness of the research (a comprehensive examination of a phenomenon and its context), and the naturalism (a "real-life context" is being examined) involved in the research.