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What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
Deep Dive into a Topic
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Strengths and Weaknesses of Case Studies
There is no doubt that case studies are a valuable and important form of research for all of the industries and fields that use them. However, along with all their advantages, they also have some disadvantages. In this article we are going to look at both.
Advantages of Case Studies
Case study method is responsible for intensive study of a unit. It is the investigation and exploration of an event thoroughly and deeply. You get a very detailed and in-depth study of a person or event. This is especially the case with subjects that cannot be physically or ethically recreated.
This is one of the biggest advantages of the Genie case. You cannot lock up a child for 13 years and deprive them of everything. That would be morally and ethically wrong in every single way. So when the opportunity presented itself, researchers could not look away. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about feral children.
Genie was a feral child. She was raised in completed isolation, with little human contact. Because of the abuse she withstood, she was unable to develop cognitively. From infancy she was strapped to a potty chair, and therefore never acquired the physicality needed for walking, running and jumping.
If Genie made a noise, her father beat her. Therefore, she learned to not make a noise. Once she was found, researchers studied her language skills, and attempted to find ways to get her to communicate. They were successful. While she never gained the ability to speak, she did develop other ways to communicate. However, the public soon lost interest in her case, and with that, the funds to conduct the study.
However, her case was extremely important to child development psychology and linguistic theory. Because of her, we know that mental stimulation is needed for proper development. We also now know that there is a "critical period" for the learning of language.
Developing New Research
Case studies are one of the best ways to stimulate new research. A case study can be completed, and if the findings are valuable, they can lead to new and advanced research in the field. There has been a great deal of research done that wouldn't have been possible without case studies.
An example of this is the sociological study Nickel and Dimed. Nickel and Dimed is a book and study done by Barbara Ehrenreich. She wanted to study poverty in America, and did so by living and working as a person living on minimum wage.
Through her experiment, she discovered that poverty was almost inescapable. As soon as she saved a little money, she was hit with a crisis. She might get sick, or her car might break down, all occurrences that can be destructive when a person doesn't have a safety net to fall back on.
It didn't matter where she lived or what she did. Working a minimum wage job gave her no chances for advancement or improvement whatsoever. And she did the experiment as a woman with no children to support.
This study opened a lot of eyes to the problem of the working poor in America. By living and working as the experiment, Ehrenreich was able to show first-hand data regarding the issues surrounding poverty. The book didn't end with any solutions, just suggestions for the reader and points for them to think about.
Using this case study information, new studies could be organized to learn better ways to help people who are fighting poverty, or better ways to help the working poor.
Contradicting Established Ideas or Theories
Oftentimes there are theories that may be questioned with case studies. For example, in the John/John case study, it was believed that gender and sexual identity were a construct of nurture, not nature.
John-John focused on a set of twin boys, both of whom were circumcised at the age of 6 months. One of the twin's circumcisions failed, causing irreparable damage to the penis. His parents were concerned about the sexual health of their son, so they contacted Dr. John Money for a solution.
Dr. Money believed that sexuality came from nurture, not nature, and that the injured baby, Bruce, could be raised as a girl. His penis was removed and he was sexually reassigned to become a girl. Bruce's name was changed to Brenda, and his parents decided to raise him as a girl.
In this case, Dr. Money was dishonest. He believed that gender could be changed, which has since been proven false. Brenda's parents were also dishonest, stating that the surgery was a success, when in fact that wasn't the case.
As Brenda grew up, she always acted masculine and was teased for it at school. She did not socialize as a girl, and did not identify as a female. When Brenda was 13 she learned the truth, and was incredibly relieved. She changed her name to David, and lived the rest of her life as a male.
This case proved that the general theory was wrong, and is still valuable, even though the study author was dishonest.
Giving New Insight
Case studies have the ability to give insight into phenomena that cannot be learned in any other way. An example of this is the case study about Sidney Bradford. Bradford was blind from the age of 10 months old, and regained his sight at the age of 52 from a corneal transplant.
This unique situation allowed researchers to better learn how perception and motion changes when suddenly given sight. They were able to better understand how colors and dimensions affect the human process. For what it is worth, Bradford continued to live and work with his eyes closed, as he found sight too stimulating.
Another famous study was the sociological study of Milgram.
Stanley Milgram did a study from 1960 to 1974 in which he studied the effects of social pressure. The study was set up as an independent laboratory. A random person would walk in, and agree to be a part of the study. He was told to act as a teacher, and ask questions to another volunteer, who was the learner.
The teacher would ask the learner questions, and whenever he answered incorrectly, the teacher was instructed to give the learner an electric shock. Each time the learner was wrong, the shock would be increased by 15 volts. What the teacher didn't know was that the learner was a part of the experiment, and that no shocks were being given. However, the learner did act as if they were being shocked.
If the teachers tried to quit, they were strongly pushed to continue. The goal of the experiment was to see whether or not any of the teachers would go up to the highest voltage. As it turned out, 65% of the teachers did.
This study opened eyes when it comes to social pressure. If someone tells you it is okay to hurt someone, at what point will the person back off and say "this is not ok!" And in this study, the results were the same, regardless of income, race, gender or ethnicity.
This study opened up the sociological world of understanding the divide between social pressure and morality.
Disadvantages of Case Studies
Inability to Replicate
As demonstrated with the Genie case study, many studies cannot be replicated, and therefore, cannot be corroborated. Because the studies cannot be replicated, it means the data and results are only valid for that one person. Now, one could infer that that results of the Genie study would be the same with other feral children, without additional studies we can never be 100% certain.
Also, Genie was a white, American female. We do not know whether someone with a different gender, race or ethnicity would have a different result.
Key Term! Hawthorne Effect
The effect in which people change their behavior when they are aware they are being observed.
When conducting a case study, it is very possible for the author to form a bias. This bias can be for the subject; the form of data collection, or the way the data is interpreted. This is very common, since it is normal for humans to be subjective. It is well known that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, was often biased in his case histories and interpretations.
The researcher can become close to a study participant, or may learn to identify with the subject. When this happens the researcher loses their perspective as an outsider.
Any classification is not possible due to studying a small unit. This generalization of results is limited, since the study is only focusing on one small group. However, this isn't always a problem, especially if generalization is not one of the study's goals.
Case studies can be very time consuming. The data collection process can be very intensive and long, and this is something new researchers are not familiar with. It takes a long period of time to develop a case study, and develop a detailed analysis.
Many studies also require the authors to immerse themselves in the case. For example, in the Genie case, the lead researchers spent an abnormal amount of time with Genie, since so few people knew how to handle her. David Rigler, one of the lead researchers, actually had Genie live with him and his family for years. Because of this attachment, many questioned the veracity of the study data.
Possibility of Errors
Case study method may have errors of memory or judgment. Since reconstructing case history is based on memory, this can lead to errors. Also, how one person perceived the past could be different for another person, and this can and does lead to errors.
When considering various aspects of their lives, people tend to focus on issues that they find most important. This allows them to form a prejudice and can make them unaware of other possible options.
With small studies, there is always the question of ethics. At what point does a study become unethical? The Genie case was riddled with accusations of being unethical, and people still debate about it today.
Was it ethical to study Genie as deeply as she was studied?
Did Genie deserve to live out her life unbothered by researchers and academics trying to use her case to potentially further their careers?
At what point does the pursuit of scientific knowledge outweigh the right to a life free from research?
Also, because the researchers became so invested in the study, people questioned whether a researcher would report unethical behavior if they witnessed it.
Advantages and Disadvantages in Real-Life Studies
Two of these case studies are the Tylenol Scandal and the Genie language study.
Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of these two studies.
Genie – Advantages
Uniqueness of study – Being able to study a feral child is a rare occurrence.
Genie – Disadvantages
Ethics - The lead researcher David Rigler provided a home for Genie, and was paid for being a foster parent. This is often seen as unethical, since Rigler had a financial interest in Genie and her case.
Tylenol – Advantages
Uniqueness of study – What happened to Tylenol was very unique and rare. While companies face crisis all the time, a public health crisis of this magnitude is very unique.
Tylenol – Disadvantages
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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Case Study
In this article written by our assignment help team, we explore case study strengths and weaknesses across numerous subjects. There are always subject-specific case-study pros and cons that exist for a smaller number of people, but the pros and cons listed in this article span across most types of case study.
A case study is the in-depth analysis and evaluation of a certain issue/person/event or thing. One may do research by collecting samples of data from hundreds of different sources, and one may collect lots of information from one source to create a case study.
Alternatively, somebody may research hundreds of different sources, but focus on a single event/issue/person, and we would still call that a case study. A good case study synonym may be a “ Single-Event examination ” or an “ Individual-person survey .” Another good case study synonym may be a, “ A historical reflection ”, “ A thematic analysis ”, “ A case history ,” “ A study project ” or an “ Empirical study .”
The Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of Case Studies
There are two primary disadvantages of case study exercises.
The first is that they are subject to bias on so many levels that a good argument could be made that all case studies are useless when used as evidence.
Another of the most commonly cited disadvantages of case study work is that the data collected cannot stand on its own if one wishes to make generalizations. There are advantages of case study work, with the most powerful being that people can learn important facts that are not taught in Universities.
A person with years of experience has more of a chance to build one-on-one experience, which may make such a person better at his or her job, but this works the other way too in that people with lots of experience may fall into a rut and become more generalized in their thoughts and approach.
The Unsung Advantages of Case Study Work
By their nature, colleges and Universities will always teach in generalities. That is why it is dangerous when students take what they learn in college or university and take it as the truth. What students are being taught are versions of the truth. If Universities were “able” to teach you the real truth, then words such as “Atypical Symptoms” and “Expected Anomalies” wouldn’t exist.
Take the example of a person studying Schizophrenia. College and university will teach the many symptoms and offer reasons for their causes. Yet, practicing psychologists are going to frequently come up against patients who have Schizophrenia, but who do not demonstrate the symptoms the psychologists were taught in university. Over time, these psychologists will merge what they learn in university with what they learned through experience and build a bigger picture of how Schizophrenia works. A case study may be able to replace some of that experience.
For example, take another psychologist, but this is a young psychologist who has only been practicing for six months. Such a person may know all the generalized symptoms that he or she learned in university but has little experience with the less-typical or atypical symptoms, which makes the young psychologist less effective in the real world.
However, the psychologist one day receives a patient who has symptoms contrary to what was taught in university, such as a patient who is able to effectively “Turn Off” hallucinations and disorganised speech. A young psychologist may be stumped, but this psychologist read a case study in university about another patient who did this very same thing, so the psychologist has a better idea what to diagnose and what to do next.
The Most Dangerous Disadvantages of Case Study Work
The most destructive and damaging disadvantages of case study exercises is bias, and one could blame this type of bias for many misunderstandings and wrong assumptions in the past.
Case studies are damaging when they are undertaken with any form of bias, and the problem is that things such as double-blind experiments and the scientific process are often very difficult/impossible when it comes to case studies. Case studies are damaging when they are used as evidence.
Case Studies Are Limited
People are so hungry to be offended that they honestly think stereotypes are bad things, but the fact is that humans cannot exist in a world where things are not generalized. The advantages of the case study are similar to the advantages of stereotypes. One of the biggest case study strengths and weaknesses revolve around how case studies are used.
It is okay to say that women are stereotypically weaker than men. When a stereotype is used as evidence, then it is damaging, such as if a man was hired over a woman to do the builder’s laboring jobs. Just because the stereotype of men being stronger exists, it doesn’t mean the man and woman going for the laboring job will follow the stereotype. One of the strengths and weaknesses of case studies is that it may expose problems such as this and it may also cause problems like this.
A case study presentation is not like a stereotype , but it is as damaging as using a stereotype when a case study presentation is used as evidence.
Imagine if you did a case study on the strength of women and you did it on a bodybuilding woman. Imagine if you tried to use that case study to claim that mixed fights were fair, not only would it be a damaging idea in terms of male-female dynamic, it would also cause physical damage when they tried to fight men. There are women who can beat up men easily, but most men are physically bigger than women. In this situation, using a case study as evidence is as damaging and dangerous as using stereotypes as evidence. There is nothing wrong with stereotypes because they are needed, but neither case studies nor stereotypes should be used as evidence to prove a point. You may enjoy the advantages of case study work so long as you do not use case studies as evidence to prove points that may affect other people.
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Case Studies: Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the interactive techniques that have become popular in the UK, USA, Germany, Denmark and other countries is a case study, a method for analyzing situations developed by British scholars.
It is given an important place for solving contemporary learning problems in the world of practice.For the first time, the case-method was applied in 1910 in the presentation of managerial disciplines at the Harvard Business School, which is well-known for innovation, and in non-developed countries, this method began to spread only in the second half of the 90’s of the twentieth century, as cognitive acceleration in the process of studying natural sciences. The basis of the case method is the concept of the development of mental abilities.
Advantages of Case Studies
Case study method, like any other system, has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with its advantages.
The essence of the method is the use of specific cases (situations, stories, texts which are called “case”) for joint analysis, discussion or decision made by students from a certain section of discipline training.The value of the case-method lies:
- it simultaneously reflects not only a practical problem, but also actualizes a certain complex of knowledge that needs to be mastered in solving this problem,
- it successfully combines educational, analytical and educational activities, which is definitely active and effective in realization of modern problems of the education system.
- is not only educational but also has a great educational potential from the standpoint of the formation of personal qualities:
- development of hard work;
- development of creativity;
- formation of ability to compete;
- formation of readiness to assume responsibility for the results of their own analysis of the situation and for the work of the entire group;
- forming self-confidence;
- formation of the need for achievement;
- development of strong-willed qualities, purposefulness;
- forming skills in the group;
- formation of skills of communicative culture;
- the formation of a socially active and vital competent person capable of self-development, self-improvement, and self-realization.
- does not require large material and time costs, and allows variability of training.
Disadvantages of Case Studies
The intensive study can be highlighted as when studying a new topic in the presentation of theoretical material and can be used to generalize and systematize the material. As an interactive learning method, the case-method is effective in using the study of economic, social and social sciences, language and literature and professional disciplines.
But it has some disadvantages as well:
- Cases can be too self-sufficient. Students receive a complete set of information – everything you need to know about the situation in a structured way. In this case, they no longer need to conduct research or find out that the problem. This situation artificially blocks the search for additional information that they may need.
- If students need to teach something really simple, the cases can take too much time.
- The case method is not very suitable for areas where there may be unique correct answers.
Thus, it should be mentioned, that the use of a case study by the teacher, on the one hand, stimulates the individual activity of students, creates a positive motivation for learning, reduces “passive” and uncertain students, provides high efficiency training and development of future specialists, forms certain personal qualities and competence, and, on the other hand, gives the opportunity to the teacher himself/herself: to improve some skills, think differently and act or update teacher’s creative potential.
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The Strengths and Limitations of Case Study Research
In the current educational climate, there is considerable pressure from a variety of sources to develop and emphasize scientific approaches to researching educational practice. Thus, called for a science of teaching, and the evidence-based practice movement appears to regard the ideal form of research as the experiment, or randomized controlled trial . The search is on to discover significant truths about teaching and learning that are 'safe' to share with practitioners, and generalisable across all relevant settings. This dominant approach raises older doubts about the value of qualitative case study research. It is argued that such studies cannot be generalised from, and are unlikely to produce findings that have predictive value.
International studies provide evidence that effective teachers are essential to students' learning success. Research on teacher effectiveness in the United States began in the 1980's, and valid and reliable methods for assessing teacher effectiveness have been developed in its context, research on this topic is still relatively new in German-speaking countries. While effective teaching is a highly complex construct which includes a whole repertoire of skills, there seems evidence that some of these skills play a particularly significant role for effective teaching. The present article will take a close look at these skills from the perspective of two mostly separate discourses: expertise research and the qualities of expert teachers, which are usually discussed in the Anglo-American context, and theories of teacher professionalism which is highly influential in the German speaking countries. The two concepts are explained and it is argued that-interestingly enough-research r...
This article presents the case study as a type of qualitative research. Its aim is to give a detailed description of a case study-its definition, some classifications, and several advantages and disadvantages-in order to provide a better understanding of this widely used type of qualitative approac h. In comparison to other types of qualitative research, case studies have been little understood both from a methodological point of view, where disagreements exist about whether case studies should be considered a research method or a research type, and from a content point of view, where there are ambiguities regarding what should be considered a case or research subject. A great emphasis is placed on the disadvantages of case studies, where we try to refute some of the criticisms concerning case studies, particularly in comparison to quantitative research approaches.
Cambridge Journal of Education
Http Dx Doi Org 10 1080 07294360 2014 911253
Case study methodology has long been a contested terrain in social sciences research which is characterized by varying, sometimes opposing, approaches espoused by many research methodologists. Despite being one of the most frequently used qualitative research methodologies in educational research, the methodologists do not have a full consensus on the design and implementation of case study, which hampers its full evolution. Focusing on the landmark works of three prominent methodologists, namely Robert Yin, Sharan Merriam, Robert Stake, I attempt to scrutinize the areas where their perspectives diverge, converge and complement one another in varying dimensions of case study research. I aim to help the emerging researchers in the field of education familiarize themselves with the diverse views regarding case study that lead to a vast array of techniques and strategies, out of which they can come up with a combined perspective which best serves their research purpose.
Case study is believed as the widely used kind of research to view phenomena, despite of some critics on it concerning mostly on its data reliability, validity and subjectivity. This article therefore discusses some aspects of case study which are considered important to be recognized by novice researchers, especially about the way how to design and how to make sure the quality and reliability of the case. In addition, the case studying educational research also becomes the focus to be discussed, completed with some examples, to be able to open our mind to the plenty opportunities for case study in education.
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Exploring the Strengths and Limitations of Case Study Research
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- 🔍 Triangulation, the use of multiple data sources and analysis methods, is considered a strength of case study research design, as it helps strengthen and provide evidence for the explored issue.
- 💪 The design flexibility of case study research allows for adaptation and evolution of research objectives and questions based on increasing insights into the issue.
- 🧠 Case study research allows for the generation of hypotheses and research questions that can be further explored using other research designs.
- 🧩 The use of multiple data collection and analysis procedures, as well as the evolving nature of the sample and research questions, adds complexity to case study research.
- 🌍 "Case study research allows for a deep understanding of complex social phenomena and provides rich and detailed data that can inform theory development and practice."
- 🧠 The more experienced researchers are, the easier it is for them to conduct case study research, suggesting that expertise plays a significant role in navigating the complexities of this research method.
- 💡 Case studies provide insights into similar situations, allowing researchers and readers to gain valuable knowledge and understanding, even if statistical generalization is not possible.
- 🤔 The subjectivity of case study research, where researchers make decisions on data collection, analysis methods, and interpretations, raises questions about the objectivity of the findings.
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- 📚 00:00 Case study research design has strengths including detailed analysis and triangulation, which allows for exploring various aspects of a research issue with multiple data sources and analysis methods.
- 💡 02:06 Case study research offers design flexibility, allowing for adjustments and adaptations based on evolving research objectives and insights into the issue.
- 📚 02:47 Case study research helps us explore and understand specific situations, allowing us to generate hypotheses and research questions that can be further explored using other research designs, while also being more approachable and manageable for junior and student researchers.
- 💡 03:48 Case study research has the advantage of flexibility but is limited by its complex and evolving research designs, data collection and analysis procedures, and research questions.
- 💡 04:23 Case study research has both strengths and limitations.
- 💡 04:22 Conducting case study research becomes easier for experienced researchers compared to junior researchers due to their research experience in dealing with complexity.
- 📝 05:00 The generalizability of findings in case study research is limited because the aim is to understand a specific situation within its context, making it difficult to apply the findings to a broader population.
- 🔍 06:16 Case study research has limitations due to researcher subjectivity, but it is still a popular and enlightening research design for understanding social phenomena in their contexts.
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