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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.

Gather Evidence

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.

Present Findings

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.

Draw Conclusions

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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What Is a Case Study?

An in-depth study of one person, group, or event

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

meaning of case study questions

Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.

meaning of case study questions

Verywell / Colleen Tighe

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 .

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011 Jun 27;11:100. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

Gagnon, Yves-Chantal.  The Case Study as Research Method: A Practical Handbook . Canada, Chicago Review Press Incorporated DBA Independent Pub Group, 2010.

Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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meaning of case study questions

Imagine it's your birthday and you come home to find your family has bought you your favourite cake, as they do every year.Now imagine that your neighbour, on their birthday, cuts into a large apple pie instead of a cake. Everyone on your street gets cakes on their birthday except this one neighbour. This intrigues you and you start researching this unusual…

Mockup Schule

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Imagine it's your birthday and you come home to find your family has bought you your favourite cake, as they do every year.

Now imagine that your neighbour, on their birthday, cuts into a large apple pie instead of a cake. Everyone on your street gets cakes on their birthday except this one neighbour. This intrigues you and you start researching this unusual tradition. Why not a birthday cake? Is there some cultural or historical significance behind celebrating with a pie? If so, why is it an apple pie? Would having a cherry pie, for example, hold the same meaning?

The point of this (seemingly random) scenario is to understand why researchers may choose to use case studies in their research. To give you a good understanding of case studies, we will be looking at:

  • In this explanation, we will explore the definition of case study research
  • Next, we'll go over a description of how case studies are used
  • After this, we'll explore the methodology of case studies
  • Then, we'll take a look at some examples of case studies
  • Finally, we'll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the case study method in sociology

Definition of case study research

Case studies are a research method sometimes used by sociologists. Research that takes the form of a case study can also be called a case study design. Let's examine the definition of a case study.

  • Case studies are in-depth investigations focused on an individual person, group, community, organisation, situation, or event.

Description of case studies

Case studies are used in a wide range of academic research areas. For instance, they can be used to study the intricacies of a particular medical phenomenon or to investigate a certain historical event.

In social research, such as in sociology, case studies are a good way to investigate social phenomena or to understand how certain processes and groups within society operate.

A researcher could study the details of a serial killer's deviance (focusing on one individual) or explore the integration of asylum seekers and refugees in a particular neighbourhood (focusing on a specific group of people).

Let's consider some common features or characteristics of case studies.

Methodology of case studies

Case studies can use methodological pluralism (using a wide range of research methods) to achieve triangulation (cross-checking of data to increase validity).

Due to the use of methodological pluralism, case studies can produce both quantitative and qualitative data.

Case studies can sometimes also be longitudinal studies (researchers studying the data at regular intervals over a long period of time).

The sample of the case study (the person, group, event, etc that is being studied) is often chosen because they are unique or exceptional in some way, and researchers want to learn more. For instance, researchers may choose to study a group of 15 delinquent children in a certain school because they deviate from behavioural norms.

Data found from case studies can be used to formulate new social theories or to test the validity of existing theories.

Check out Longitudinal Studies for more information.

Because case studies have a narrow focus , they are not used to make wider claims about populations. However, although the focus is narrow, the scope of the project can be very extensive, e.g. if a researcher is studying a person's social development throughout childhood and adolescence.

Using case studies with other research methods

Case studies can be used to follow up on a survey to provide more depth to the investigation. A case study can also precede a survey to establish whether a phenomenon merits further research.

Methodological pluralism in case studies

Researchers can use methodological pluralism in case studies to obtain a wide range of data using a wide range of research methods. Although the research methods used vary from case to case, they may include the following:

Questionnaires

Observations

Examining videos and photos

Studying documents such as historical records or letters

Examples of case studies

Case studies are relevant not only to sociology but to many different fields, including history, politics, economics, law, and the media . Some well-known examples of case studies include research on:

A community

Karen O'Reilly's (2000) and Michaela Benson's (2011) research of expatriate Briton communities in Costa del Sol, Spain. They examined groups of British people in Spain, who were notorious for being drunkards.

Researchers dove behind the stereotypes of British expatriates in Costa del Sol and studied their everyday experiences. They also studied expats' reasons for migrating to Spain and found complex accounts of expatriate life through interviews .

Stephen Ball's (1981) study into underperforming working-class students at Beachside Comprehensive examined in detail why working-class students were not performing well in school. Ball carried out participant observation at the school for three years. Upon observing two groups of students, he found there was some differentiation between students, which harmed working-class students' education.

An organisation

Simon Holdaway's (1982, 1983) study of police service, w hilst serving as a sergeant. Holdaway carried out a covert ethnographic study of police work in the London Metropolitan Police Service.

The study is considered ground-breaking. Holdaway is referred to by some sociologists as a police research pioneer.

Graham Allison's (1971) study of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He wrote the ' Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis ', analysing the historical events of 1962.

It was used as a case study to study governmental and political decision-making in further detail. The book is well-known in the study of international relations.

Advantages and disadvantages of case study method in sociology

Gauging the suitability of a case study for a research project depends on several considerations.

Case Studies, Hand ticking an option on a survey, Vaia

Advantages of case studies

Interpretivist sociologists favour case studies because they generate detailed, qualitative data and bring in-depth insights to the investigation.

Case studies that use methodological pluralism are highly valid as they have achieved triangulation.

Researchers can gather both qualitative and quantitative data.

It is comparably cheaper to study a small sample compared to researching a large sample.

Disadvantages of case studies

Case studies are criticised by positivists for small and unrepresentative sample sizes, meaning that findings cannot be generalised to the wider population.

Positivists also state case studies are difficult to replicate because of the unique circumstances of each case study.

Researcher bias and influence may affect the validity of the findings.

It can still be expensive and time-consuming to carry out a case study.

Depending on the nature of the case study, there may be ethical concerns , especially around sensitive information.

Case Studies - Key takeaways

  • Case studies can use methodological pluralism to achieve triangulation. Methodological pluralism in case studies can include using questionnaires, interviews , observations, photos, videos, and documents to carry out research.
  • Although the focus of case studies is narrow, their scope is extensive.
  • The advantages of case studies include in-depth qualitative data, high validity, and cheaper costs.
  • The disadvantages of case studies include unrepresentative sample sizes, lack of generalisability and replicability, researcher bias, and cost. They can also be time-consuming and potentially unethical.

Frequently Asked Questions about Case Studies

--> what is a case study.

A case study is an in-depth investigation focused on an individual person, group, community, organisation, situation, or event. 

--> What is the purpose of case study research?

Case studies are used in a wide range of academic research areas. For instance, they can be used to study the intricacies of a particular medical phenomenon or to investigate a certain historical event. 

--> What is case study research?

Case study research is research obtained through the case study design. A case study design is a research method.

--> Why is the case study method used in sociology?

--> how do you write a case study.

To write a case study, one must choose a topic, pick a methodology, choose a sample, conduct the study, analyse their data, and write up their findings.

Final Case Studies Quiz

Case studies quiz - teste dein wissen.

What are case studies?

Show answer

Case studies are in-depth investigations focused on an individual person, group, community, organisation, situation, or event.  

Show question

Research that takes the form of a case study can also be called a _____.

Case study design

What is methodological pluralism?

Methodological pluralism is the use of a wide range of research methods.

Why do case studies use methodological pluralism?

To achieve triangulation.

Case studies can only produce qualitative data. True or false?

How can data from case studies be used?

Data found from case studies can be used to formulate new social theories of to test the validity of existing theories.

Case studies have a ____ focus but ____ scope.

Narrow, extensive.

A researcher wants to study 100 delinquent schoolchildren. Why might it not be a good idea to use a case study design?

Any of the following:

  • the sample size is too large
  • data collected may not be extensive
  • costly and time-consuming

Which kind of sociologists favour case studies and why?

Interpretivist sociologists favour case studies because they generate detailed, qualitative data and bring in-depth insights into the investigation. 

Case studies that use methodological pluralism are high in _____ as they have achieved triangulation.

It is often comparably cheaper to study a small sample compared to a large sample. True or false?

What kind of sociologists criticise case studies and why?

Case studies are criticised by positivists for small and unrepresentative sample sizes, meaning that findings cannot be generalised to the wider population. 

According to positivists, why are case studies difficult to replicate?

Positivists state case studies are difficult to replicate because of the unique circumstances of each case study.

What can affect the validity of the findings of a case study?

Researcher bias and influence.

In sociology, what are case studies good for?

Case studies are a good way to investigate social phenomena or to understand how certain processes and groups within society operate.

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Methodology

  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 22, 2023.

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 studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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meaning of case study questions

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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100 Best Case Study Questions for Your Next Customer Spotlight

Brittany Fuller

Published: November 29, 2022

Case studies and testimonials are helpful to have in your arsenal. But to build an effective library, you need to ask the right case study questions. You also need to know how to write a case study .

marketing team coming up with case study questions

Case studies are customers' stories that your sales team can use to share relevant content with prospects . Not only that, but case studies help you earn a prospect's trust, show them what life would be like as your customer, and validate that your product or service works for your clients.

Before you start building your library of case studies, check out our list of 100 case study questions to ask your clients. With this helpful guide, you'll have the know-how to build your narrative using the " Problem-Agitate-Solve " Method.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

What makes a good case study questionnaire?

The ultimate list of case study questions, how to ask your customer for a case study, creating an effective case study.

Certain key elements make up a good case study questionnaire.

A questionnaire should never feel like an interrogation. Instead, aim to structure your case study questions like a conversation. Some of the essential things that your questionnaire should cover include:

  • The problem faced by the client before choosing your organization.
  • Why they chose your company.
  • How your product solved the problem clients faced.
  • The measurable results of the service provided.
  • Data and metrics that prove the success of your service or product, if possible.

You can adapt these considerations based on how your customers use your product and the specific answers or quotes that you want to receive.

What makes a good case study question?

A good case study question delivers a powerful message to leads in the decision stage of your prospective buyer's journey.

Since your client has agreed to participate in a case study, they're likely enthusiastic about the service you provide. Thus, a good case study question hands the reins over to the client and opens a conversation.

Try asking open-ended questions to encourage your client to talk about the excellent service or product you provide.

Free Case Study Templates

Tell us about yourself to access the templates..

case-study-questions_3

Categories for the Best Case Study Questions

  • Case study questions about the customer's business
  • Case study questions about the environment before the purchase
  • Case study questions about the decision process
  • Case study questions about the customer's business case
  • Case study questions about the buying team and internal advocates
  • Case study questions about customer success
  • Case study questions about product feedback
  • Case study questions about willingness to make referrals
  • Case study question to prompt quote-worthy feedback
  • Case study questions about the customers' future goals

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customer's Business

Knowing the customer's business is an excellent way of setting the tone for a case study.

Use these questions to get some background information about the company and its business goals. This information can be used to introduce the business at the beginning of the case study — plus, future prospects might resonate with their stories and become leads for you.

  • Would you give me a quick overview of [company]? This is an opportunity for the client to describe their business in their own words. You'll get useful background information and it's an easy prompt to get the client talking.
  • Can you describe your role? This will give you a better idea of the responsibilities they are subject to.
  • How do your role and team fit into the company and its goals? Knowing how the team functions to achieve company goals will help you formulate how your solution involves all stakeholders.
  • How long has your company been in business? Getting this information will help the reader gauge if pain points are specific to a startup or new company vs. a veteran company.
  • How many employees do you have? Another great descriptor for readers to have. They can compare the featured company size with their own.
  • Is your company revenue available? If so, what is it? This will give your readers background information on the featured company's gross sales.
  • Who is your target customer? Knowing who the target audience is will help you provide a better overview of their market for your case study readers.
  • How does our product help your team or company achieve its objectives? This is one of the most important questions because it is the basis of the case study. Get specifics on how your product provided a solution for your client. You want to be able to say "X company implemented our solution and achieved Y. "
  • How are our companies aligned (mission, strategy, culture, etc.)? If any attributes of your company's mission or culture appealed to the client, call it out.

How many people are on your team? What are their roles? This will help describe key players within the organization and their impact on the implementation of your solution.

case-study-questions_5

Case Study Interview Questions About the Environment Before the Purchase

A good case study is designed to build trust. Ask clients to describe the tools and processes they used before your product or service. These kinds of case study questions will highlight the business' need they had to fulfill and appeal to future clients.

  • What was your team's process prior to using our product? This will give the reader a baseline to compare the results for your company's product.
  • Were there any costs associated with the process prior to using our product? Was it more expensive? Was it worth the cost? How did the product affect the client's bottom line? This will be a useful metric to disclose if your company saved the client money or was more cost-efficient.
  • What were the major pain points of your process prior to using our product? Describe these obstacles in detail. You want the reader to get as much information on the problem as possible as it sets up the reasoning for why your company's solution was implemented.
  • Did our product replace a similar tool or is this the first time your team is using a product like this? Were they using a similar product? If so, having this information may give readers a reason to choose your brand over the competition.
  • What other challenges were you and your team experiencing prior to using our product? The more details you can give readers regarding the client's struggles, the better. You want to paint a full picture of the challenges the client faced and how your company resolved them.
  • Were there any concerns about how your customers would be impacted by using our product? Getting answers to this question will illustrate to readers the client's concerns about switching to your service. Your readers may have similar concerns and reading how your client worked through this process will be helpful.
  • Why didn't you buy our product or a similar product earlier? Have the client describe any hesitations they had using your product. Their concerns may be relatable to potential leads.
  • Were there any "dealbreakers" involved in your decision to become a customer? Describing how your company was able to provide a solution that worked within those parameters demonstrates how accommodating your brand is and how you put the customer first. It's also great to illustrate any unique challenges the client had. This better explains their situation to the reader.
  • Did you have to make any changes you weren't anticipating once you became a customer? Readers of your case study can learn how switching to your product came with some unexpected changes (good or bad) and how they navigated them. If you helped your client with troubleshooting, ask them to explain that here.

How has your perception of the product changed since you've become a customer? Get the interviewee to describe how your product changed how they do business. This includes how your product accomplished what they previously thought was impossible.

case-study-questions_7

Case Study Interview Questions About the Decision Process

Readers of the case study will be interested in which factors influenced the decision-making process for the client. If they can relate to that process, there's a bigger chance they'll buy your product.

The answers to these questions will help potential customers through their decision-making process.

  • How did you hear about our product? If the client chose to work with you based on a recommendation or another positive case study, include that. It will demonstrate that you are a trusted brand with an established reputation for delivering results.
  • How long had you been looking for a solution to this problem? This will add to the reader's understanding of how these particular challenges impacted the company before choosing your product.
  • Were you comparing alternative solutions? Which ones? This will demonstrate to readers that the client explored other options before choosing your company.
  • Would you describe a few of the reasons you decided to buy our product? Ask the interviewee to describe why they chose your product over the competition and any benefits your company offered that made you stand out.
  • What were the criteria you used when deciding to buy our product? This will give readers more background insight into the factors that impacted their decision-making process.
  • Were there any high-level initiatives or goals that prompted the decision to buy? For example, was this decision motivated by a company-wide vision? Prompt your clients to discuss what lead to the decision to work with you and how you're the obvious choice.
  • What was the buying process like? Did you notice anything exceptional or any points of friction? This is an opportunity for the client to comment on how seamless and easy you make the buying process. Get them to describe what went well from start to finish.
  • How would you have changed the buying process, if at all? This is an opportunity for you to fine-tune your process to accommodate future buyers.
  • Who on your team was involved in the buying process? This will give readers more background on the key players involved from executives to project managers. With this information, readers can see who they may potentially need to involve in the decision-making process on their teams.

case-study-questions_10

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customer's Business Case

Your case study questions should ask about your product or solution's impact on the customer's employees, teams, metrics, and goals. These questions allow the client to praise the value of your service and tell others exactly what benefits they derived from it.

When readers review your product or service's impact on the client, it enforces the belief that the case study is credible.

  • How long have you been using our product? This will help readers gauge how long it took to see results and your overall satisfaction with the product or service.
  • How many different people at your company use our product? This will help readers gauge how they can adapt the product to their teams if similar in size.
  • Are there multiple departments or teams using our product? This will demonstrate how great of an impact your product has made across departments.
  • How do you and your team currently use the product? What types of goals or tasks are you using the product to accomplish? Get specifics on how the product actively helps the client achieve their goals.
  • If other teams or departments are using our product, do you know how they're using it? With this information, leads can picture how they can use your product across their teams and how it may improve their workflow and metrics.
  • What was the most obvious advantage you felt our product offered during the sales process? The interviewee should explain the benefits they've gained from using your product or service. This is important for convincing other leads you are better than the competition.
  • Were there any other advantages you discovered after using the product more regularly? Your interviewee may have experienced some additional benefits from using your product. Have them describe in detail what these advantages are and how they've helped the company improve.
  • Are there any metrics or KPIs you track with our product? What are they? The more numbers and data the client can provide, the better.
  • Were you tracking any metrics prior to using our product? What were they? This will allow readers to get a clear, before-and-after comparison of using your product.
  • How has our product impacted your core metrics? This is an opportunity for your clients to drive home how your product assisted them in hitting their metrics and goals.

case-study-questions_1

Case Study Interview Questions About the Buying Team and Internal Advocates

See if there are any individuals at the customer's company who are advocates for your product.

  • Are there any additional team members you consider to be advocates for our product? For example, does anyone stick out as a "power user" or product expert on your team? You may want to interview and include these power users in your case study as well. Consider asking them for tips on using your service or product.
  • Is there anyone else on your team you think we should talk to? Again, the more people can share their experience using your product, the better.
  • Are there any team members who you think might not be the biggest fans of our product or who might need more training? Providing extra support to those struggling with your product may improve their user experience and turn into an opportunity to not only learn about their obstacles but turn them into a product fan
  • Would you share some details about how your team implemented our product? Get as much information as possible about the rollout. Hopefully, they'll gush about how seamless the process was.
  • Who from your company was involved in implementing our product? This will give readers more insight into who needs to be involved for a successful rollout of their own.
  • Were there any internal risks or additional costs involved with implementing our product? If so, how did you address them? This will give insight into the client's process and rollout and this case study question will likely provide tips on what potential leads should be on the lookout for.
  • Is there a training process in place for your team's use of our product? If so, what does it look like? If your company provided support and training to the client, have them describe that experience.
  • About how long does it take a new team member to get up to speed with our product? This will help leads determine how much time it will take to onboard an employee to your using your product. If a new user can quickly get started seamlessly, it bodes well for you.
  • What was your main concern about rolling this product out to your company? Describing their challenges in detail will provide readers with useful insight.

case-study-questions_8

Case Study Interview Questions About Customer Success

Has the customer found success with your product? Ask these questions to learn more.

  • By using our product can you measure any reduced costs? If it has, you'll want to emphasize those savings in your case study.
  • By using our product can you measure any improvements in productivity or time savings? Any metrics or specific stories your interviewee can provide will help demonstrate the value of your product.
  • By using our product can you measure any increases in revenue or growth? Again, say it with numbers and data whenever possible.
  • Are you likely to recommend our product to a friend or colleague? Recommendations from existing customers are some of the best marketing you can get.
  • How has our product impacted your success? Your team's success? Getting the interviewee to describe how your product played an integral role in solving their challenges will show leads that they can also have success using your product.
  • In the beginning, you had XYZ concerns; how do you feel about them now? Let them explain how working with your company eliminated those concerns.
  • I noticed your team is currently doing XYZ with our product. Tell me more about how that helps your business. Illustrate to your readers how current customers are using your product to solve additional challenges. It will convey how versatile your product is.
  • Have you thought about using our product for a new use case with your team or at your company? The more examples of use cases the client can provide, the better.
  • How do you measure the value our product provides? Have the interviewee illustrate what metrics they use to gauge the product's success and how. Data is helpful, but you should go beyond the numbers. Maybe your product improved company morale and how teams work together.

case-study-questions_6

Case Study Interview Questions About Product Feedback

Ask the customer if they'd recommend your product to others. A strong recommendation will help potential clients be more open to purchasing your product.

  • How do other companies in this industry solve the problems you had before you purchased our product? This will give you insight into how other companies may be functioning without your product and how you can assist them.
  • Have you ever talked about our product to any of your clients or peers? What did you say? This can provide you with more leads and a chance to get a referral.
  • Why would you recommend our product to a friend or client? Be sure they pinpoint which features they would highlight in a recommendation.
  • Can you think of any use cases your customers might have for our product? Similar industries may have similar issues that need solutions. Your interviewee may be able to provide a use case you haven't come up with.
  • What is your advice for other teams or companies who are tackling problems similar to those you had before you purchased our product? This is another opportunity for your client to talk up your product or service.
  • Do you know someone in X industry who has similar problems to the ones you had prior to using our product? The client can make an introduction so you can interview them about their experience as well.
  • I noticed you work with Company Y. Do you know if they are having any pain points with these processes? This will help you learn how your product has impacted your client's customers and gain insight into what can be improved.
  • Does your company participate in any partner or referral programs? Having a strong referral program will help you increase leads and improve customer retention.
  • Can I send you a referral kit as a thank-you for making a referral and give you the tools to refer someone to us? This is a great strategy to request a referral while rewarding your existing customers.
  • Are you interested in working with us to produce additional marketing content? The more opportunities you can showcase happy customers, the better.

case-study-questions_11

Case Study Interview Questions About Willingness to Make Referrals

  • How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or client? Ideally, they would definitely refer your product to someone they know.
  • Can you think of any use cases your customers might have for our product? Again, your interviewee is a great source for more leads. Similar industries may have similar issues that need solutions. They may be able to provide a use case you haven't come up with.
  • I noticed you work with Company Y; do you know if they are having any pain points with these processes? This will help you learn how your product has impacted your client's customers and gain insight into what can be improved.

case-study-questions_4

Case Study Interview Questions to Prompt Quote-Worthy Feedback

Enhance your case study with quotable soundbites from the customer. By asking these questions, prospects have more insight into other clients and their success with your product — which helps build trust.

  • How would you describe your process in one sentence prior to using our product? Ideally, this sentence would quickly and descriptively sum up the most prominent pain point or challenge with the previous process.
  • What is your advice to others who might be considering our product? Readers can learn from your customer's experience.
  • What would your team's workflow or process be like without our product? This will drive home the value your product provides and how essential it is to their business.
  • Do you think the investment in our product was worthwhile? Why? Have your customer make the case for the value you provide.
  • What would you say if we told you our product would soon be unavailable? What would this mean to you? Again, this illustrates how integral your product is to their business.
  • How would you describe our product if you were explaining it to a friend? Your customers can often distill the value of your product to their friends better than you can.
  • What do you love about your job? Your company? This gives the reader more background on your customer and their industry.
  • What was the worst part of your process before you started using our product? Ideally, they'd reiterate how your product helped solve this challenge.
  • What do you love about our product? Another great way to get the customer's opinion about what makes your product worth it.
  • Why do you do business with us? Hopefully, your interviewee will share how wonderful your business relationship is.

case-study-questions_0

Case Study Interview Questions About the Customers' Future Goals

Ask the customer about their goals, challenges, and plans for the future. This will provide insight into how a business can grow with your product.

  • What are the biggest challenges on the horizon for your industry? Chances are potential leads within the same industry will have similar challenges.
  • What are your goals for the next three months? Knowing their short-term goals will enable your company to get some quick wins for the client.
  • How would you like to use our product to meet those challenges and goals? This will help potential leads understand that your product can help their business as they scale and grow.
  • Is there anything we can do to help you and your team meet your goals? If you haven't covered it already, this will allow your interviewee to express how you can better assist them.
  • Do you think you will buy more, less, or about the same amount of our product next year? This can help you gauge how your product is used and why.
  • What are the growth plans for your company this year? Your team? This will help you gain insight into how your product can help them achieve future goals.
  • How can we help you meet your long-term goals? Getting specifics on the needs of your clients will help you create a unique solution designed for their needs.
  • What is the long-term impact of using our product? Get their feedback on how your product has created a lasting impact.
  • Are there any initiatives that you personally would like to achieve that our product or team can help with? Again, you want to continue to provide products that help your customers excel.
  • What will you need from us in the future? This will help you anticipate the customer's business needs.
  • Is there anything we can do to improve our product or process for working together in the future? The more feedback you can get about what is and isn't working, the better.

case-study-questions_2

Before you can start putting together your case study, you need to ask your customer's permission.

If you have a customer who's seen success with your product, reach out to them. Use this template to get started:

Thank you & quick request

Hi [customer name],

Thanks again for your business — working with you to [solve X, launch Y, take advantage of Z opportunity] has been extremely rewarding, and I'm looking forward to more collaboration in the future.

[Name of your company] is building a library of case studies to include on our site. We're looking for successful companies using [product] to solve interesting challenges, and your team immediately came to mind. Are you open to [customer company name] being featured?

It should be a lightweight process — [I, a product marketer] will ask you roughly [10, 15, 20] questions via email or phone about your experience and results. This case study will include a blurb about your company and a link to your homepage (which hopefully will make your SEO team happy!)

In any case, thank you again for the chance to work with you, and I hope you have a great week.

[Your name]

meaning of case study questions

If one of your customers has recently passed along some praise (to you, their account manager, your boss; on an online forum; to another potential customer; etc.), then send them a version of this email:

Hey [customer name],

Thanks for the great feedback — I'm really glad to hear [product] is working well for you and that [customer company name] is getting the results you're looking for.

My team is actually in the process of building out our library of case studies, and I'd love to include your story. Happy to provide more details if you're potentially interested.

Either way, thank you again, and I look forward to getting more updates on your progress.

meaning of case study questions

You can also find potential case study customers by usage or product data. For instance, maybe you see a company you sold to 10 months ago just bought eight more seats or upgraded to a new tier. Clearly, they're happy with the solution. Try this template:

I saw you just [invested in our X product; added Y more users; achieved Z product milestone]. Congratulations! I'd love to share your story using [product] with the world -- I think it's a great example of how our product + a dedicated team and a good strategy can achieve awesome results.

Are you open to being featured? If so, I'll send along more details.

meaning of case study questions

Case Study Benefits

  • Case studies are a form of customer advocacy.
  • Case studies provide a joint-promotion opportunity.
  • Case studies are easily sharable.
  • Case studies build rapport with your customers.
  • Case studies are less opinionated than customer reviews.

1. Case studies are a form of customer advocacy.

If you haven't noticed, customers aren't always quick to trust a brand's advertisements and sales strategies.

With every other brand claiming to be the best in the business, it's hard to sort exaggeration from reality.

This is the most important reason why case studies are effective. They are testimonials from your customers of your service. If someone is considering your business, a case study is a much more convincing piece of marketing or sales material than traditional advertising.

2. Case studies provide a joint-promotion opportunity.

Your business isn't the only one that benefits from a case study. Customers participating in case studies benefit, too.

Think about it. Case studies are free advertisements for your customers, not to mention the SEO factor, too. While they're not promoting their products or services, they're still getting the word out about their business. And, the case study highlights how successful their business is — showing interested leads that they're on the up and up.

3. Case studies are easily sharable.

No matter your role on the sales team, case studies are great to have on hand. You can easily share them with leads, prospects, and clients.

Whether you embed them on your website or save them as a PDF, you can simply send a link to share your case study with others. They can share that link with their peers and colleagues, and so on.

Case studies can also be useful during a sales pitch. In sales, timing is everything. If a customer is explaining a problem that was solved and discussed in your case study, you can quickly find the document and share it with them.

4. Case studies build rapport with your customers.

While case studies are very useful, they do require some back and forth with your customers to obtain the exact feedback you're looking for.

Even though time is involved, the good news is this builds rapport with your most loyal customers. You get to know them on a personal level, and they'll become more than just your most valuable clients.

And, the better the rapport you have with them, the more likely they'll be to recommend your business, products, or services to others.

5. Case studies are less opinionated than customer reviews.

Data is the difference between a case study and a review. Customer reviews are typically based on the customer's opinion of your brand. While they might write a glowing review, it's completely subjective and there's rarely empirical evidence supporting their claim.

Case studies, on the other hand, are more data-driven. While they'll still talk about how great your brand is, they support this claim with quantitative data that's relevant to the reader. It's hard to argue with data.

An effective case study must be genuine and credible. Your case study should explain why certain customers are the right fit for your business and how your company can help meet their specific needs. That way, someone in a similar situation can use your case study as a testimonial for why they should choose your business.

Use the case study questions above to create an ideal customer case study questionnaire. By asking your customers the right questions, you can obtain valuable feedback that can be shared with potential leads and convert them into loyal customers.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Key Study Skills

  • Assignment Calculator
  • Managing nervousness
  • Allocating time and using the marking system
  • Using the reading time effectively
  • Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Answering essay and case study questions in exams
  • Managing exam stress
  • Academic Skills for Success

Answering essay questions in exams

Writing an essay in an exam is similar in many ways to writing an essay for an assignment: It needs to be clearly structured, and your ideas need to be linked and supported by evidence.

Essay questions in exams

  • Read the question through carefully to make sure you are answering what has been asked.  Missing one part of a question can cost you a lot of marks.
  • Make a quick plan of the points you want to include in your answer.
  • Use essay structure: introduction, points, conclusion.  But if you run out of time, it can be a good idea to write notes.
  • Get right to the point from the beginning.  Use the words from the question to write your first sentence. For example:

Question: What do you think is the most important intercultural communication issue in New Zealand? First sentence: At present in New Zealand the most important intercultural communication issue is...

  • Remember to include one idea per paragraph, and to begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence.
  • Make sure your writing is legible.
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling are not as important as in an assignment but should still be of a good standard.

Answering case study questions

Exam questions that ask you to anlayse case studies (also called scenarios) are usually designed to test your ability to relate theories and concepts to real-world situations.

Preparing for case studies before the exam:

  • Start by identifying the theories and concepts covered in your course.  Organise and review the information you have on these theories/concepts so you understand them.
  • Practice reading case studies and identifying relevant information. It's probably useful to practice doing this with a time limit as you will have one in your exam.
  • Practice relating concepts and theories to real-world situations: ask lecturers and check textbooks for practice examples. It is also worth checking past exams for your course to see if there are examples of case study questions.

During the exam

  • Take time to plan: Have a clear idea of how much time you have to answer the question. Then plan to spend some time reading the exam question, the case study and planning your answer. Take time to make sure you have understood the case study and know what the exam question is asking you to do:
  • Read the exam question(s)
  • Then skim read the case study to get the general idea. Highlight or underline key points
  • Reread the question to make sure you understand it and to focus your attention when you reread the case study.
  • Reread the case study carefully. Make a note of any ideas that you think of.
  • Answer the question linking relevant theories and concepts to specific information from the case study. Usually you will need to write your answers in clearly formed paragraphs which have a clear topic that is well-supported with evidence and examples.
  • Instead of simply describing or restating information from the case itself, use specific details or examples to support the points you are trying to make. This is where you link theory to the facts from the case study.
  • << Previous: Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Next: Managing exam stress >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 14, 2023 11:36 AM
  • URL: https://guides.unitec.ac.nz/studyskills

Essential Case Study Questions to Ask Your Best Customers

meaning of case study questions

Benchmark Team writes on February 23, 2023

Picture this: a customer is looking to replace their  email marketing software . As they evaluate different options, they look for products with features that suit their needs and preferences. Most importantly, they want proof that your product works.

You can tell the story yourself, but the problem is  that 9 out of 10 customers won’t trust what you say about your brand . Instead, they want to hear from other customers who have used your product and reaped the benefits. This is where case studies come in handy. 

A case study gives skeptical customers evidence backed by data, numbers, and analysis. It’s an impactful direct endorsement from satisfied customers that tells others, “come buy this product: it enables me to achieve these results and will work for your business, too.” 

Where to Use Case Studies

Case studies are an important part of your  content marketing strategy . Here are a few places you can feature your case studies to drive social proof and conversions:

  • Your website:  92% of potential customers look for social proof  before making a purchase. Adding excerpts of your case studies on key web pages and on focused landing pages will improve conversions.
  • Nurture emails: If you have a case study about a feature or product a customer is looking to buy, send a targeted, nurture series featuring the case study. 
  • Sales and marketing team: When the customer is in the consideration stage, you can send them targeted case studies. Sales and marketing teams should also learn to use case studies at the right moments in the buyer’s journey.
  • Newsletters: Case studies are a great resource for your newsletter series, whether you’re looking to build new relationships or strengthen existing ones. 
  • Marketing videos: Making video case studies or testimonials helps potential customers see what your product can achieve from a third-party perspective and may convince them to buy. Actually,  2 out of 3 customers claim they’d make a purchase  after watching a testimonial video. 
  • Blog posts: You could also use quotes from case studies to add credibility to information in your blog posts and articles. 

Identifying the Right Customers for Case Studies

Not all customer stories lend themselves well to case studies. For a case study to really woo your customers, it has to be authentic, believable, and captivating. 

When picking candidates for case studies, consider the following:

  • Company size: The size of the company that suits your case study comes down to what you want to achieve. If you want to add more SMBs to your customer base, then write a case study about a small business; and vice versa. 
  • The challenge: Evaluate your target audience and pinpoint the problem you want to solve. Then, identify the specific product feature that solves that problem. Lastly, search through your customer base and pick a customer that had a similar problem and used the same feature to solve it. Chances are, if you use that customer as a case study, the story will resonate with the target audience. 
  • The results: Remember, for the case study to have a significant impact, it has to showcase cold, hard data. For this reason, pick a customer with solid numbers to back up their anecdotal results. Gather direct quotes, as well, to spice up the case study and improve narrative flow. You’re telling a story, after all, so make it exciting!
  • Other things to consider include: pick a customer you’ve recently worked with, and ideally, one requiring minimal layers of approval. This way, your proposal to feature them in your case studies will get approval in time — and you won’t have to delay for months while you wait for legal to provide their stamp of approval.

Fundamental Case Study Questions to Ask in Your Interview

Asking your customers the right questions can make or break your case study. The questions you ask will vary depending on your industry and the angle of your case study, but here are some essential ones to start with:

  • How did you find out about us?
  • When did you start working with us?
  • What was the beginning of the engagement with our company like?
  • What problems were you looking to solve?
  • Did you evaluate our competitors or other solutions to your problem?
  • What made you decide to go with us?
  • How did our product/solution solve your problem?
  • Did you need any help using our product/solution, and how did you get help?
  • What are some of the main benefits of using our product/solution?
  • What are the three biggest things you love about our company? 
  • What would you say to other people considering us?

1: What’s Your Background?

Getting your customer’s backstory is a great way to set the stage and tone for your case study. It might even help steer your case study down a path you hadn’t considered before.  Better yet, these personal stories engage potential buyers, helping them to relate to your customer base.

2: How did you find out about us?

3: when did you start working with us, 4: what was the beginning of the engagement with our company like, 5: what problem were you trying to solve.

Every buyer is working to address a problem. Your case study should focus on one problem, so ask what problem the user was trying to solve. This question will give the reader (and you)  insight into how people perceive and use your product.

6: How Was The Problem Affecting You?

Most buying decisions are based on emotions  rather than logic. Expand this question by asking how the problem was affecting impacting the customer’s bottom line, what difficulties it was causing and how it made the person feel. Ask open-ended questions and try to elicit emotional responses as much as possible.

7: What Possible Solutions Did You Consider?

There are always multiple ways to solve any problem. Those who read your case study will trust the testimonial more if they can see that the customer considered other solutions. Buyers always start with a list of options and then narrow down the list until they find the perfect fit.

8: Why Did You Choose Our Product or Service?

Case study readers will be interested in the decision-making process previous buyers have gone through. If they identify with the process, they are more likely to buy the same product.

9: What Would Have Happened If You Had NOT Made The Purchase?

Asking this question reiterates the original problem. Hopefully it’s the same one the reader is trying to solve. It emphasizes the consequences of postponing a purchase and increases the likelihood of the reader making the decision you want him or her to make.

10: What Risks Did You Consider?

Every decision has risks. If you ignore them they won’t go away, so you need to address each risk to reassure your prospective customer. This helps the reader to overcome their natural aversion to taking risks. Risk analysis has two main components; how likely it is, and how severe are the possible consequences.

You can reduce perceived risk by including a ludicrous over-the-top warranty that offers much more than the standard money-back guarantee everyone offers.

11: What Reservations Did You Have?

This is similar to risk analysis and gives you another way to find why people might not be buying from you. If one person has reservations, other buyers might have similar feelings and need to confront them before making a decision to purchase.

12: Did you need any help using our product/solution, and how did you get help?

Provide potential customers with a taste of what it’s like working with your company. Do you have 24/7 support? Personalized account management? Give your  customer service and support  a chance to shine.

13: What are some of the main benefits of using our product/solution?

14: what measurable benefits have you seen.

This question gives your case study respondent an opportunity to address the value in your product and to spell out exactly how it solved their problem. It is more convincing as the final question because readers can see the feedback is credible. Praise is more effective when it’s given after a detailed risk analysis and consideration of alternatives.

15: What are the three biggest things you love about our company? 

16: what would you say to other people considering us, bonus: can you provide creative assets.

Be sure to ask your customer for a headshot, company logo and other brand elements you can add to their case study to make it feel even more personal and authentic to your audience.

You know what you need and how your study needs to be structured. If you simply ask someone to give you feedback on a purchase, what you get is unstructured and rambling praise that lacks credibility. Structuring responses will save the respondents time and gives you something much more valuable.

Your best customers value your partnership and want to help you succeed. They will more than likely be happy to take part in a case study. All you need to do is to ask.

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meaning of case study questions

Designing and Conducting Case Studies

This guide examines case studies, a form of qualitative descriptive research that is used to look at individuals, a small group of participants, or a group as a whole. Researchers collect data about participants using participant and direct observations, interviews, protocols, tests, examinations of records, and collections of writing samples. Starting with a definition of the case study, the guide moves to a brief history of this research method. Using several well documented case studies, the guide then looks at applications and methods including data collection and analysis. A discussion of ways to handle validity, reliability, and generalizability follows, with special attention to case studies as they are applied to composition studies. Finally, this guide examines the strengths and weaknesses of case studies.

Definition and Overview

Case study refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including the accounts of subjects themselves. A form of qualitative descriptive research, the case study looks intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context. Researchers do not focus on the discovery of a universal, generalizable truth, nor do they typically look for cause-effect relationships; instead, emphasis is placed on exploration and description.

Case studies typically examine the interplay of all variables in order to provide as complete an understanding of an event or situation as possible. This type of comprehensive understanding is arrived at through a process known as thick description, which involves an in-depth description of the entity being evaluated, the circumstances under which it is used, the characteristics of the people involved in it, and the nature of the community in which it is located. Thick description also involves interpreting the meaning of demographic and descriptive data such as cultural norms and mores, community values, ingrained attitudes, and motives.

Unlike quantitative methods of research, like the survey, which focus on the questions of who, what, where, how much, and how many, and archival analysis, which often situates the participant in some form of historical context, case studies are the preferred strategy when how or why questions are asked. Likewise, they are the preferred method when the researcher has little control over the events, and when there is a contemporary focus within a real life context. In addition, unlike more specifically directed experiments, case studies require a problem that seeks a holistic understanding of the event or situation in question using inductive logic--reasoning from specific to more general terms.

In scholarly circles, case studies are frequently discussed within the context of qualitative research and naturalistic inquiry. Case studies are often referred to interchangeably with ethnography, field study, and participant observation. The underlying philosophical assumptions in the case are similar to these types of qualitative research because each takes place in a natural setting (such as a classroom, neighborhood, or private home), and strives for a more holistic interpretation of the event or situation under study.

Unlike more statistically-based studies which search for quantifiable data, the goal of a case study is to offer new variables and questions for further research. F.H. Giddings, a sociologist in the early part of the century, compares statistical methods to the case study on the basis that the former are concerned with the distribution of a particular trait, or a small number of traits, in a population, whereas the case study is concerned with the whole variety of traits to be found in a particular instance" (Hammersley 95).

Case studies are not a new form of research; naturalistic inquiry was the primary research tool until the development of the scientific method. The fields of sociology and anthropology are credited with the primary shaping of the concept as we know it today. However, case study research has drawn from a number of other areas as well: the clinical methods of doctors; the casework technique being developed by social workers; the methods of historians and anthropologists, plus the qualitative descriptions provided by quantitative researchers like LePlay; and, in the case of Robert Park, the techniques of newspaper reporters and novelists.

Park was an ex-newspaper reporter and editor who became very influential in developing sociological case studies at the University of Chicago in the 1920s. As a newspaper professional he coined the term "scientific" or "depth" reporting: the description of local events in a way that pointed to major social trends. Park viewed the sociologist as "merely a more accurate, responsible, and scientific reporter." Park stressed the variety and value of human experience. He believed that sociology sought to arrive at natural, but fluid, laws and generalizations in regard to human nature and society. These laws weren't static laws of the kind sought by many positivists and natural law theorists, but rather, they were laws of becoming--with a constant possibility of change. Park encouraged students to get out of the library, to quit looking at papers and books, and to view the constant experiment of human experience. He writes, "Go and sit in the lounges of the luxury hotels and on the doorsteps of the flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and on the slum shakedowns; sit in the Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter Burlesque. In short, gentlemen [sic], go get the seats of your pants dirty in real research."

But over the years, case studies have drawn their share of criticism. In fact, the method had its detractors from the start. In the 1920s, the debate between pro-qualitative and pro-quantitative became quite heated. Case studies, when compared to statistics, were considered by many to be unscientific. From the 1930's on, the rise of positivism had a growing influence on quantitative methods in sociology. People wanted static, generalizable laws in science. The sociological positivists were looking for stable laws of social phenomena. They criticized case study research because it failed to provide evidence of inter subjective agreement. Also, they condemned it because of the few number of cases studied and that the under-standardized character of their descriptions made generalization impossible. By the 1950s, quantitative methods, in the form of survey research, had become the dominant sociological approach and case study had become a minority practice.

Educational Applications

The 1950's marked the dawning of a new era in case study research, namely that of the utilization of the case study as a teaching method. "Instituted at Harvard Business School in the 1950s as a primary method of teaching, cases have since been used in classrooms and lecture halls alike, either as part of a course of study or as the main focus of the course to which other teaching material is added" (Armisted 1984). The basic purpose of instituting the case method as a teaching strategy was "to transfer much of the responsibility for learning from the teacher on to the student, whose role, as a result, shifts away from passive absorption toward active construction" (Boehrer 1990). Through careful examination and discussion of various cases, "students learn to identify actual problems, to recognize key players and their agendas, and to become aware of those aspects of the situation that contribute to the problem" (Merseth 1991). In addition, students are encouraged to "generate their own analysis of the problems under consideration, to develop their own solutions, and to practically apply their own knowledge of theory to these problems" (Boyce 1993). Along the way, students also develop "the power to analyze and to master a tangled circumstance by identifying and delineating important factors; the ability to utilize ideas, to test them against facts, and to throw them into fresh combinations" (Merseth 1991).

In addition to the practical application and testing of scholarly knowledge, case discussions can also help students prepare for real-world problems, situations and crises by providing an approximation of various professional environments (i.e. classroom, board room, courtroom, or hospital). Thus, through the examination of specific cases, students are given the opportunity to work out their own professional issues through the trials, tribulations, experiences, and research findings of others. An obvious advantage to this mode of instruction is that it allows students the exposure to settings and contexts that they might not otherwise experience. For example, a student interested in studying the effects of poverty on minority secondary student's grade point averages and S.A.T. scores could access and analyze information from schools as geographically diverse as Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, and New Mexico without ever having to leave the classroom.

The case study method also incorporates the idea that students can learn from one another "by engaging with each other and with each other's ideas, by asserting something and then having it questioned, challenged and thrown back at them so that they can reflect on what they hear, and then refine what they say" (Boehrer 1990). In summary, students can direct their own learning by formulating questions and taking responsibility for the study.

Types and Design Concerns

Researchers use multiple methods and approaches to conduct case studies.

Types of Case Studies

Under the more generalized category of case study exist several subdivisions, each of which is custom selected for use depending upon the goals and/or objectives of the investigator. These types of case study include the following:

Illustrative Case Studies These are primarily descriptive studies. They typically utilize one or two instances of an event to show what a situation is like. Illustrative case studies serve primarily to make the unfamiliar familiar and to give readers a common language about the topic in question.

Exploratory (or pilot) Case Studies These are condensed case studies performed before implementing a large scale investigation. Their basic function is to help identify questions and select types of measurement prior to the main investigation. The primary pitfall of this type of study is that initial findings may seem convincing enough to be released prematurely as conclusions.

Cumulative Case Studies These serve to aggregate information from several sites collected at different times. The idea behind these studies is the collection of past studies will allow for greater generalization without additional cost or time being expended on new, possibly repetitive studies.

Critical Instance Case Studies These examine one or more sites for either the purpose of examining a situation of unique interest with little to no interest in generalizability, or to call into question or challenge a highly generalized or universal assertion. This method is useful for answering cause and effect questions.

Identifying a Theoretical Perspective

Much of the case study's design is inherently determined for researchers, depending on the field from which they are working. In composition studies, researchers are typically working from a qualitative, descriptive standpoint. In contrast, physicists will approach their research from a more quantitative perspective. Still, in designing the study, researchers need to make explicit the questions to be explored and the theoretical perspective from which they will approach the case. The three most commonly adopted theories are listed below:

Individual Theories These focus primarily on the individual development, cognitive behavior, personality, learning and disability, and interpersonal interactions of a particular subject.

Organizational Theories These focus on bureaucracies, institutions, organizational structure and functions, or excellence in organizational performance.

Social Theories These focus on urban development, group behavior, cultural institutions, or marketplace functions.

Two examples of case studies are used consistently throughout this chapter. The first, a study produced by Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988), looks at a first year graduate student's initiation into an academic writing program. The study uses participant-observer and linguistic data collecting techniques to assess the student's knowledge of appropriate discourse conventions. Using the pseudonym Nate to refer to the subject, the study sought to illuminate the particular experience rather than to generalize about the experience of fledgling academic writers collectively.

For example, in Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman's (1988) study we are told that the researchers are interested in disciplinary communities. In the first paragraph, they ask what constitutes membership in a disciplinary community and how achieving membership might affect a writer's understanding and production of texts. In the third paragraph they state that researchers must negotiate their claims "within the context of his sub specialty's accepted knowledge and methodology." In the next paragraph they ask, "How is literacy acquired? What is the process through which novices gain community membership? And what factors either aid or hinder students learning the requisite linguistic behaviors?" This introductory section ends with a paragraph in which the study's authors claim that during the course of the study, the subject, Nate, successfully makes the transition from "skilled novice" to become an initiated member of the academic discourse community and that his texts exhibit linguistic changes which indicate this transition. In the next section the authors make explicit the sociolinguistic theoretical and methodological assumptions on which the study is based (1988). Thus the reader has a good understanding of the authors' theoretical background and purpose in conducting the study even before it is explicitly stated on the fourth page of the study. "Our purpose was to examine the effects of the educational context on one graduate student's production of texts as he wrote in different courses and for different faculty members over the academic year 1984-85." The goal of the study then, was to explore the idea that writers must be initiated into a writing community, and that this initiation will change the way one writes.

The second example is Janet Emig's (1971) study of the composing process of a group of twelfth graders. In this study, Emig seeks to answer the question of what happens to the self as a result educational stimuli in terms of academic writing. The case study used methods such as protocol analysis, tape-recorded interviews, and discourse analysis.

In the case of Janet Emig's (1971) study of the composing process of eight twelfth graders, four specific hypotheses were made:

  • Twelfth grade writers engage in two modes of composing: reflexive and extensive.
  • These differences can be ascertained and characterized through having the writers compose aloud their composition process.
  • A set of implied stylistic principles governs the writing process.
  • For twelfth grade writers, extensive writing occurs chiefly as a school-sponsored activity, or reflexive, as a self-sponsored activity.

In this study, the chief distinction is between the two dominant modes of composing among older, secondary school students. The distinctions are:

  • The reflexive mode, which focuses on the writer's thoughts and feelings.
  • The extensive mode, which focuses on conveying a message.

Emig also outlines the specific questions which guided the research in the opening pages of her Review of Literature , preceding the report.

Designing a Case Study

After considering the different sub categories of case study and identifying a theoretical perspective, researchers can begin to design their study. Research design is the string of logic that ultimately links the data to be collected and the conclusions to be drawn to the initial questions of the study. Typically, research designs deal with at least four problems:

  • What questions to study
  • What data are relevant
  • What data to collect
  • How to analyze that data

In other words, a research design is basically a blueprint for getting from the beginning to the end of a study. The beginning is an initial set of questions to be answered, and the end is some set of conclusions about those questions.

Because case studies are conducted on topics as diverse as Anglo-Saxon Literature (Thrane 1986) and AIDS prevention (Van Vugt 1994), it is virtually impossible to outline any strict or universal method or design for conducting the case study. However, Robert K. Yin (1993) does offer five basic components of a research design:

  • A study's questions.
  • A study's propositions (if any).
  • A study's units of analysis.
  • The logic that links the data to the propositions.
  • The criteria for interpreting the findings.

In addition to these five basic components, Yin also stresses the importance of clearly articulating one's theoretical perspective, determining the goals of the study, selecting one's subject(s), selecting the appropriate method(s) of collecting data, and providing some considerations to the composition of the final report.

Conducting Case Studies

To obtain as complete a picture of the participant as possible, case study researchers can employ a variety of approaches and methods. These approaches, methods, and related issues are discussed in depth in this section.

Method: Single or Multi-modal?

To obtain as complete a picture of the participant as possible, case study researchers can employ a variety of methods. Some common methods include interviews , protocol analyses, field studies, and participant-observations. Emig (1971) chose to use several methods of data collection. Her sources included conversations with the students, protocol analysis, discrete observations of actual composition, writing samples from each student, and school records (Lauer and Asher 1988).

Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988) collected data by observing classrooms, conducting faculty and student interviews, collecting self reports from the subject, and by looking at the subject's written work.

A study that was criticized for using a single method model was done by Flower and Hayes (1984). In this study that explores the ways in which writers use different forms of knowing to create space, the authors used only protocol analysis to gather data. The study came under heavy fire because of their decision to use only one method.

Participant Selection

Case studies can use one participant, or a small group of participants. However, it is important that the participant pool remain relatively small. The participants can represent a diverse cross section of society, but this isn't necessary.

For example, the Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988) study looked at just one participant, Nate. By contrast, in Janet Emig's (1971) study of the composition process of twelfth graders, eight participants were selected representing a diverse cross section of the community, with volunteers from an all-white upper-middle-class suburban school, an all-black inner-city school, a racially mixed lower-middle-class school, an economically and racially mixed school, and a university school.

Often, a brief "case history" is done on the participants of the study in order to provide researchers with a clearer understanding of their participants, as well as some insight as to how their own personal histories might affect the outcome of the study. For instance, in Emig's study, the investigator had access to the school records of five of the participants, and to standardized test scores for the remaining three. Also made available to the researcher was the information that three of the eight students were selected as NCTE Achievement Award winners. These personal histories can be useful in later stages of the study when data are being analyzed and conclusions drawn.

Data Collection

There are six types of data collected in case studies:

  • Archival records.
  • Interviews.
  • Direct observation.
  • Participant observation.

In the field of composition research, these six sources might be:

  • A writer's drafts.
  • School records of student writers.
  • Transcripts of interviews with a writer.
  • Transcripts of conversations between writers (and protocols).
  • Videotapes and notes from direct field observations.
  • Hard copies of a writer's work on computer.

Depending on whether researchers have chosen to use a single or multi-modal approach for the case study, they may choose to collect data from one or any combination of these sources.

Protocols, that is, transcriptions of participants talking aloud about what they are doing as they do it, have been particularly common in composition case studies. For example, in Emig's (1971) study, the students were asked, in four different sessions, to give oral autobiographies of their writing experiences and to compose aloud three themes in the presence of a tape recorder and the investigator.

In some studies, only one method of data collection is conducted. For example, the Flower and Hayes (1981) report on the cognitive process theory of writing depends on protocol analysis alone. However, using multiple sources of evidence to increase the reliability and validity of the data can be advantageous.

Case studies are likely to be much more convincing and accurate if they are based on several different sources of information, following a corroborating mode. This conclusion is echoed among many composition researchers. For example, in her study of predrafting processes of high and low-apprehensive writers, Cynthia Selfe (1985) argues that because "methods of indirect observation provide only an incomplete reflection of the complex set of processes involved in composing, a combination of several such methods should be used to gather data in any one study." Thus, in this study, Selfe collected her data from protocols, observations of students role playing their writing processes, audio taped interviews with the students, and videotaped observations of the students in the process of composing.

It can be said then, that cross checking data from multiple sources can help provide a multidimensional profile of composing activities in a particular setting. Sharan Merriam (1985) suggests "checking, verifying, testing, probing, and confirming collected data as you go, arguing that this process will follow in a funnel-like design resulting in less data gathering in later phases of the study along with a congruent increase in analysis checking, verifying, and confirming."

It is important to note that in case studies, as in any qualitative descriptive research, while researchers begin their studies with one or several questions driving the inquiry (which influence the key factors the researcher will be looking for during data collection), a researcher may find new key factors emerging during data collection. These might be unexpected patterns or linguistic features which become evident only during the course of the research. While not bearing directly on the researcher's guiding questions, these variables may become the basis for new questions asked at the end of the report, thus linking to the possibility of further research.

Data Analysis

As the information is collected, researchers strive to make sense of their data. Generally, researchers interpret their data in one of two ways: holistically or through coding. Holistic analysis does not attempt to break the evidence into parts, but rather to draw conclusions based on the text as a whole. Flower and Hayes (1981), for example, make inferences from entire sections of their students' protocols, rather than searching through the transcripts to look for isolatable characteristics.

However, composition researchers commonly interpret their data by coding, that is by systematically searching data to identify and/or categorize specific observable actions or characteristics. These observable actions then become the key variables in the study. Sharan Merriam (1988) suggests seven analytic frameworks for the organization and presentation of data:

  • The role of participants.
  • The network analysis of formal and informal exchanges among groups.
  • Historical.
  • Thematical.
  • Ritual and symbolism.
  • Critical incidents that challenge or reinforce fundamental beliefs, practices, and values.

There are two purposes of these frameworks: to look for patterns among the data and to look for patterns that give meaning to the case study.

As stated above, while most researchers begin their case studies expecting to look for particular observable characteristics, it is not unusual for key variables to emerge during data collection. Typical variables coded in case studies of writers include pauses writers make in the production of a text, the use of specific linguistic units (such as nouns or verbs), and writing processes (planning, drafting, revising, and editing). In the Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988) study, for example, researchers coded the participant's texts for use of connectives, discourse demonstratives, average sentence length, off-register words, use of the first person pronoun, and the ratio of definite articles to indefinite articles.

Since coding is inherently subjective, more than one coder is usually employed. In the Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988) study, for example, three rhetoricians were employed to code the participant's texts for off-register phrases. The researchers established the agreement among the coders before concluding that the participant used fewer off-register words as the graduate program progressed.

Composing the Case Study Report

In the many forms it can take, "a case study is generically a story; it presents the concrete narrative detail of actual, or at least realistic events, it has a plot, exposition, characters, and sometimes even dialogue" (Boehrer 1990). Generally, case study reports are extensively descriptive, with "the most problematic issue often referred to as being the determination of the right combination of description and analysis" (1990). Typically, authors address each step of the research process, and attempt to give the reader as much context as possible for the decisions made in the research design and for the conclusions drawn.

This contextualization usually includes a detailed explanation of the researchers' theoretical positions, of how those theories drove the inquiry or led to the guiding research questions, of the participants' backgrounds, of the processes of data collection, of the training and limitations of the coders, along with a strong attempt to make connections between the data and the conclusions evident.

Although the Berkenkotter, Huckin, and Ackerman (1988) study does not, case study reports often include the reactions of the participants to the study or to the researchers' conclusions. Because case studies tend to be exploratory, most end with implications for further study. Here researchers may identify significant variables that emerged during the research and suggest studies related to these, or the authors may suggest further general questions that their case study generated.

For example, Emig's (1971) study concludes with a section dedicated solely to the topic of implications for further research, in which she suggests several means by which this particular study could have been improved, as well as questions and ideas raised by this study which other researchers might like to address, such as: is there a correlation between a certain personality and a certain composing process profile (e.g. is there a positive correlation between ego strength and persistence in revising)?

Also included in Emig's study is a section dedicated to implications for teaching, which outlines the pedagogical ramifications of the study's findings for teachers currently involved in high school writing programs.

Sharan Merriam (1985) also offers several suggestions for alternative presentations of data:

  • Prepare specialized condensations for appropriate groups.
  • Replace narrative sections with a series of answers to open-ended questions.
  • Present "skimmer's" summaries at beginning of each section.
  • Incorporate headlines that encapsulate information from text.
  • Prepare analytic summaries with supporting data appendixes.
  • Present data in colorful and/or unique graphic representations.

Issues of Validity and Reliability

Once key variables have been identified, they can be analyzed. Reliability becomes a key concern at this stage, and many case study researchers go to great lengths to ensure that their interpretations of the data will be both reliable and valid. Because issues of validity and reliability are an important part of any study in the social sciences, it is important to identify some ways of dealing with results.

Multi-modal case study researchers often balance the results of their coding with data from interviews or writer's reflections upon their own work. Consequently, the researchers' conclusions become highly contextualized. For example, in a case study which looked at the time spent in different stages of the writing process, Berkenkotter concluded that her participant, Donald Murray, spent more time planning his essays than in other writing stages. The report of this case study is followed by Murray's reply, wherein he agrees with some of Berkenkotter's conclusions and disagrees with others.

As is the case with other research methodologies, issues of external validity, construct validity, and reliability need to be carefully considered.

Commentary on Case Studies

Researchers often debate the relative merits of particular methods, among them case study. In this section, we comment on two key issues. To read the commentaries, choose any of the items below:

Strengths and Weaknesses of Case Studies

Most case study advocates point out that case studies produce much more detailed information than what is available through a statistical analysis. Advocates will also hold that while statistical methods might be able to deal with situations where behavior is homogeneous and routine, case studies are needed to deal with creativity, innovation, and context. Detractors argue that case studies are difficult to generalize because of inherent subjectivity and because they are based on qualitative subjective data, generalizable only to a particular context.

Flexibility

The case study approach is a comparatively flexible method of scientific research. Because its project designs seem to emphasize exploration rather than prescription or prediction, researchers are comparatively freer to discover and address issues as they arise in their experiments. In addition, the looser format of case studies allows researchers to begin with broad questions and narrow their focus as their experiment progresses rather than attempt to predict every possible outcome before the experiment is conducted.

Emphasis on Context

By seeking to understand as much as possible about a single subject or small group of subjects, case studies specialize in "deep data," or "thick description"--information based on particular contexts that can give research results a more human face. This emphasis can help bridge the gap between abstract research and concrete practice by allowing researchers to compare their firsthand observations with the quantitative results obtained through other methods of research.

Inherent Subjectivity

"The case study has long been stereotyped as the weak sibling among social science methods," and is often criticized as being too subjective and even pseudo-scientific. Likewise, "investigators who do case studies are often regarded as having deviated from their academic disciplines, and their investigations as having insufficient precision (that is, quantification), objectivity and rigor" (Yin 1989). Opponents cite opportunities for subjectivity in the implementation, presentation, and evaluation of case study research. The approach relies on personal interpretation of data and inferences. Results may not be generalizable, are difficult to test for validity, and rarely offer a problem-solving prescription. Simply put, relying on one or a few subjects as a basis for cognitive extrapolations runs the risk of inferring too much from what might be circumstance.

High Investment

Case studies can involve learning more about the subjects being tested than most researchers would care to know--their educational background, emotional background, perceptions of themselves and their surroundings, their likes, dislikes, and so on. Because of its emphasis on "deep data," the case study is out of reach for many large-scale research projects which look at a subject pool in the tens of thousands. A budget request of $10,000 to examine 200 subjects sounds more efficient than a similar request to examine four subjects.

Ethical Considerations

Researchers conducting case studies should consider certain ethical issues. For example, many educational case studies are often financed by people who have, either directly or indirectly, power over both those being studied and those conducting the investigation (1985). This conflict of interests can hinder the credibility of the study.

The personal integrity, sensitivity, and possible prejudices and/or biases of the investigators need to be taken into consideration as well. Personal biases can creep into how the research is conducted, alternative research methods used, and the preparation of surveys and questionnaires.

A common complaint in case study research is that investigators change direction during the course of the study unaware that their original research design was inadequate for the revised investigation. Thus, the researchers leave unknown gaps and biases in the study. To avoid this, researchers should report preliminary findings so that the likelihood of bias will be reduced.

Concerns about Reliability, Validity, and Generalizability

Merriam (1985) offers several suggestions for how case study researchers might actively combat the popular attacks on the validity, reliability, and generalizability of case studies:

  • Prolong the Processes of Data Gathering on Site: This will help to insure the accuracy of the findings by providing the researcher with more concrete information upon which to formulate interpretations.
  • Employ the Process of "Triangulation": Use a variety of data sources as opposed to relying solely upon one avenue of observation. One example of such a data check would be what McClintock, Brannon, and Maynard (1985) refer to as a "case cluster method," that is, when a single unit within a larger case is randomly sampled, and that data treated quantitatively." For instance, in Emig's (1971) study, the case cluster method was employed, singling out the productivity of a single student named Lynn. This cluster profile included an advanced case history of the subject, specific examination and analysis of individual compositions and protocols, and extensive interview sessions. The seven remaining students were then compared with the case of Lynn, to ascertain if there are any shared, or unique dimensions to the composing process engaged in by these eight students.
  • Conduct Member Checks: Initiate and maintain an active corroboration on the interpretation of data between the researcher and those who provided the data. In other words, talk to your subjects.
  • Collect Referential Materials: Complement the file of materials from the actual site with additional document support. For example, Emig (1971) supports her initial propositions with historical accounts by writers such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and D.H. Lawrence. Emig also cites examples of theoretical research done with regards to the creative process, as well as examples of empirical research dealing with the writing of adolescents. Specific attention is then given to the four stages description of the composing process delineated by Helmoltz, Wallas, and Cowley, as it serves as the focal point in this study.
  • Engage in Peer Consultation: Prior to composing the final draft of the report, researchers should consult with colleagues in order to establish validity through pooled judgment.

Although little can be done to combat challenges concerning the generalizability of case studies, "most writers suggest that qualitative research should be judged as credible and confirmable as opposed to valid and reliable" (Merriam 1985). Likewise, it has been argued that "rather than transplanting statistical, quantitative notions of generalizability and thus finding qualitative research inadequate, it makes more sense to develop an understanding of generalization that is congruent with the basic characteristics of qualitative inquiry" (1985). After all, criticizing the case study method for being ungeneralizable is comparable to criticizing a washing machine for not being able to tell the correct time. In other words, it is unjust to criticize a method for not being able to do something which it was never originally designed to do in the first place.

Annotated Bibliography

Armisted, C. (1984). How Useful are Case Studies. Training and Development Journal, 38 (2), 75-77.

This article looks at eight types of case studies, offers pros and cons of using case studies in the classroom, and gives suggestions for successfully writing and using case studies.

Bardovi-Harlig, K. (1997). Beyond Methods: Components of Second Language Teacher Education . New York: McGraw-Hill.

A compilation of various research essays which address issues of language teacher education. Essays included are: "Non-native reading research and theory" by Lee, "The case for Psycholinguistics" by VanPatten, and "Assessment and Second Language Teaching" by Gradman and Reed.

Bartlett, L. (1989). A Question of Good Judgment; Interpretation Theory and Qualitative Enquiry Address. 70th Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.

Bartlett selected "quasi-historical" methodology, which focuses on the "truth" found in case records, as one that will provide "good judgments" in educational inquiry. He argues that although the method is not comprehensive, it can try to connect theory with practice.

Baydere, S. et. al. (1993). Multimedia conferencing as a tool for collaborative writing: a case study in Computer Supported Collaborative Writing. New York: Springer-Verlag.

The case study by Baydere et. al. is just one of the many essays in this book found in the series "Computer Supported Cooperative Work." Denley, Witefield and May explore similar issues in their essay, "A case study in task analysis for the design of a collaborative document production system."

Berkenkotter, C., Huckin, T., N., & Ackerman J. (1988). Conventions, Conversations, and the Writer: Case Study of a Student in a Rhetoric Ph.D. Program. Research in the Teaching of English, 22, 9-44.

The authors focused on how the writing of their subject, Nate or Ackerman, changed as he became more acquainted or familiar with his field's discourse community.

Berninger, V., W., and Gans, B., M. (1986). Language Profiles in Nonspeaking Individuals of Normal Intelligence with Severe Cerebral Palsy. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 2, 45-50.

Argues that generalizations about language abilities in patients with severe cerebral palsy (CP) should be avoided. Standardized tests of different levels of processing oral language, of processing written language, and of producing written language were administered to 3 male participants (aged 9, 16, and 40 yrs).

Bockman, J., R., and Couture, B. (1984). The Case Method in Technical Communication: Theory and Models. Texas: Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.

Examines the study and teaching of technical writing, communication of technical information, and the case method in terms of those applications.

Boehrer, J. (1990). Teaching With Cases: Learning to Question. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 42 41-57.

This article discusses the origins of the case method, looks at the question of what is a case, gives ideas about learning in case teaching, the purposes it can serve in the classroom, the ground rules for the case discussion, including the role of the question, and new directions for case teaching.

Bowman, W. R. (1993). Evaluating JTPA Programs for Economically Disadvantaged Adults: A Case Study of Utah and General Findings . Washington: National Commission for Employment Policy.

"To encourage state-level evaluations of JTPA, the Commission and the State of Utah co-sponsored this report on the effectiveness of JTPA Title II programs for adults in Utah. The technique used is non-experimental and the comparison group was selected from registrants with Utah's Employment Security. In a step-by-step approach, the report documents how non-experimental techniques can be applied and several specific technical issues can be addressed."

Boyce, A. (1993) The Case Study Approach for Pedagogists. Annual Meeting of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. (Address). Washington DC.

This paper addresses how case studies 1) bridge the gap between teaching theory and application, 2) enable students to analyze problems and develop solutions for situations that will be encountered in the real world of teaching, and 3) helps students to evaluate the feasibility of alternatives and to understand the ramifications of a particular course of action.

Carson, J. (1993) The Case Study: Ideal Home of WAC Quantitative and Qualitative Data. Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. (Address). San Diego.

"Increasingly, one of the most pressing questions for WAC advocates is how to keep [WAC] programs going in the face of numerous difficulties. Case histories offer the best chance for fashioning rhetorical arguments to keep WAC programs going because they offer the opportunity to provide a coherent narrative that contextualizes all documents and data, including what is generally considered scientific data. A case study of the WAC program, . . . at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh demonstrates the advantages of this research method. Such studies are ideal homes for both naturalistic and positivistic data as well as both quantitative and qualitative information."

---. (1991). A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing. College Composition and Communication. 32. 365-87.

No abstract available.

Cromer, R. (1994) A Case Study of Dissociations Between Language and Cognition. Constraints on Language Acquisition: Studies of Atypical Children . Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 141-153.

Crossley, M. (1983) Case Study in Comparative and International Education: An Approach to Bridging the Theory-Practice Gap. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference of the Australian Comparative and International Education Society. Hamilton, NZ.

Case study research, as presented here, helps bridge the theory-practice gap in comparative and international research studies of education because it focuses on the practical, day-to-day context rather than on the national arena. The paper asserts that the case study method can be valuable at all levels of research, formation, and verification of theories in education.

Daillak, R., H., and Alkin, M., C. (1982). Qualitative Studies in Context: Reflections on the CSE Studies of Evaluation Use . California: EDRS

The report shows how the Center of the Study of Evaluation (CSE) applied qualitative techniques to a study of evaluation information use in local, Los Angeles schools. It critiques the effectiveness and the limitations of using case study, evaluation, field study, and user interview survey methodologies.

Davey, L. (1991). The Application of Case Study Evaluations. ERIC/TM Digest.

This article examines six types of case studies, the type of evaluation questions that can be answered, the functions served, some design features, and some pitfalls of the method.

Deutch, C. E. (1996). A course in research ethics for graduate students. College Teaching, 44, 2, 56-60.

This article describes a one-credit discussion course in research ethics for graduate students in biology. Case studies are focused on within the four parts of the course: 1) major issues, 2 )practical issues in scholarly work, 3) ownership of research results, and 4) training and personal decisions.

DeVoss, G. (1981). Ethics in Fieldwork Research. RIE 27p. (ERIC)

This article examines four of the ethical problems that can happen when conducting case study research: acquiring permission to do research, knowing when to stop digging, the pitfalls of doing collaborative research, and preserving the integrity of the participants.

Driscoll, A. (1985). Case Study of a Research Intervention: the University of Utah’s Collaborative Approach . San Francisco: Far West Library for Educational Research Development.

Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, Denver, CO, March 1985. Offers information of in-service training, specifically case studies application.

Ellram, L. M. (1996). The Use of the Case Study Method in Logistics Research. Journal of Business Logistics, 17, 2, 93.

This article discusses the increased use of case study in business research, and the lack of understanding of when and how to use case study methodology in business.

Emig, J. (1971) The Composing Processes of Twelfth Graders . Urbana: NTCE.

This case study uses observation, tape recordings, writing samples, and school records to show that writing in reflexive and extensive situations caused different lengths of discourse and different clusterings of the components of the writing process.

Feagin, J. R. (1991). A Case For the Case Study . Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.

This book discusses the nature, characteristics, and basic methodological issues of the case study as a research method.

Feldman, H., Holland, A., & Keefe, K. (1989) Language Abilities after Left Hemisphere Brain Injury: A Case Study of Twins. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 9, 32-47.

"Describes the language abilities of 2 twin pairs in which 1 twin (the experimental) suffered brain injury to the left cerebral hemisphere around the time of birth and1 twin (the control) did not. One pair of twins was initially assessed at age 23 mo. and the other at about 30 mo.; they were subsequently evaluated in their homes 3 times at about 6-mo intervals."

Fidel, R. (1984). The Case Study Method: A Case Study. Library and Information Science Research, 6.

The article describes the use of case study methodology to systematically develop a model of online searching behavior in which study design is flexible, subject manner determines data gathering and analyses, and procedures adapt to the study's progressive change.

Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1984). Images, Plans and Prose: The Representation of Meaning in Writing. Written Communication, 1, 120-160.

Explores the ways in which writers actually use different forms of knowing to create prose.

Frey, L. R. (1992). Interpreting Communication Research: A Case Study Approach Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

The book discusses research methodologies in the Communication field. It focuses on how case studies bridge the gap between communication research, theory, and practice.

Gilbert, V. K. (1981). The Case Study as a Research Methodology: Difficulties and Advantages of Integrating the Positivistic, Phenomenological and Grounded Theory Approaches . The Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration. (Address) Halifax, NS, Can.

This study on an innovative secondary school in England shows how a "low-profile" participant-observer case study was crucial to the initial observation, the testing of hypotheses, the interpretive approach, and the grounded theory.

Gilgun, J. F. (1994). A Case for Case Studies in Social Work Research. Social Work, 39, 4, 371-381.

This article defines case study research, presents guidelines for evaluation of case studies, and shows the relevance of case studies to social work research. It also looks at issues such as evaluation and interpretations of case studies.

Glennan, S. L., Sharp-Bittner, M. A. & Tullos, D. C. (1991). Augmentative and Alternative Communication Training with a Nonspeaking Adult: Lessons from MH. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 7, 240-7.

"A response-guided case study documented changes in a nonspeaking 36-yr-old man's ability to communicate using 3 trained augmentative communication modes. . . . Data were collected in videotaped interaction sessions between the nonspeaking adult and a series of adult speaking."

Graves, D. (1981). An Examination of the Writing Processes of Seven Year Old Children. Research in the Teaching of English, 15, 113-134.

Hamel, J. (1993). Case Study Methods . Newbury Park: Sage. .

"In a most economical fashion, Hamel provides a practical guide for producing theoretically sharp and empirically sound sociological case studies. A central idea put forth by Hamel is that case studies must "locate the global in the local" thus making the careful selection of the research site the most critical decision in the analytic process."

Karthigesu, R. (1986, July). Television as a Tool for Nation-Building in the Third World: A Post-Colonial Pattern, Using Malaysia as a Case-Study. International Television Studies Conference. (Address). London, 10-12.

"The extent to which Television Malaysia, as a national mass media organization, has been able to play a role in nation building in the post-colonial period is . . . studied in two parts: how the choice of a model of nation building determines the character of the organization; and how the character of the organization influences the output of the organization."

Kenny, R. (1984). Making the Case for the Case Study. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 16, (1), 37-51.

The article looks at how and why the case study is justified as a viable and valuable approach to educational research and program evaluation.

Knirk, F. (1991). Case Materials: Research and Practice. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 4 (1 ), 73-81.

The article addresses the effectiveness of case studies, subject areas where case studies are commonly used, recent examples of their use, and case study design considerations.

Klos, D. (1976). Students as Case Writers. Teaching of Psychology, 3.2, 63-66.

This article reviews a course in which students gather data for an original case study of another person. The task requires the students to design the study, collect the data, write the narrative, and interpret the findings.

Leftwich, A. (1981). The Politics of Case Study: Problems of Innovation in University Education. Higher Education Review, 13.2, 38-64.

The article discusses the use of case studies as a teaching method. Emphasis is on the instructional materials, interdisciplinarity, and the complex relationships within the university that help or hinder the method.

Mabrito, M. (1991, Oct.). Electronic Mail as a Vehicle for Peer Response: Conversations of High and Low Apprehensive Writers. Written Communication, 509-32.

McCarthy, S., J. (1955). The Influence of Classroom Discourse on Student Texts: The Case of Ella . East Lansing: Institute for Research on Teaching.

A look at how students of color become marginalized within traditional classroom discourse. The essay follows the struggles of one black student: Ella.

Matsuhashi, A., ed. (1987). Writing in Real Time: Modeling Production Processes Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Investigates how writers plan to produce discourse for different purposes to report, to generalize, and to persuade, as well as how writers plan for sentence level units of language. To learn about planning, an observational measure of pause time was used" (ERIC).

Merriam, S. B. (1985). The Case Study in Educational Research: A Review of Selected Literature. Journal of Educational Thought, 19.3, 204-17.

The article examines the characteristics of, philosophical assumptions underlying the case study, the mechanics of conducting a case study, and the concerns about the reliability, validity, and generalizability of the method.

---. (1988). Case Study Research in Education: A Qualitative Approach San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Merry, S. E., & Milner, N. eds. (1993). The Possibility of Popular Justice: A Case Study of Community Mediation in the United States . Ann Arbor: U of Michigan.

". . . this volume presents a case study of one experiment in popular justice, the San Francisco Community Boards. This program has made an explicit claim to create an alternative justice, or new justice, in the midst of a society ordered by state law. The contributors to this volume explore the history and experience of the program and compare it to other versions of popular justice in the United States, Europe, and the Third World."

Merseth, K. K. (1991). The Case for Cases in Teacher Education. RIE. 42p. (ERIC).

This monograph argues that the case method of instruction offers unique potential for revitalizing the field of teacher education.

Michaels, S. (1987). Text and Context: A New Approach to the Study of Classroom Writing. Discourse Processes, 10, 321-346.

"This paper argues for and illustrates an approach to the study of writing that integrates ethnographic analysis of classroom interaction with linguistic analysis of written texts and teacher/student conversational exchanges. The approach is illustrated through a case study of writing in a single sixth grade classroom during a single writing assignment."

Milburn, G. (1995). Deciphering a Code or Unraveling a Riddle: A Case Study in the Application of a Humanistic Metaphor to the Reporting of Social Studies Teaching. Theory and Research in Education, 13.

This citation serves as an example of how case studies document learning procedures in a senior-level economics course.

Milley, J. E. (1979). An Investigation of Case Study as an Approach to Program Evaluation. 19th Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research. (Address). San Diego.

The case study method merged a narrative report focusing on the evaluator as participant-observer with document review, interview, content analysis, attitude questionnaire survey, and sociogram analysis. Milley argues that case study program evaluation has great potential for widespread use.

Minnis, J. R. (1985, Sept.). Ethnography, Case Study, Grounded Theory, and Distance Education Research. Distance Education, 6.2.

This article describes and defines the strengths and weaknesses of ethnography, case study, and grounded theory.

Nunan, D. (1992). Collaborative language learning and teaching . New York: Cambridge University Press.

Included in this series of essays is Peter Sturman’s "Team Teaching: a case study from Japan" and David Nunan’s own "Toward a collaborative approach to curriculum development: a case study."

Nystrand, M., ed. (1982). What Writers Know: The Language, Process, and Structure of Written Discourse . New York: Academic Press.

Owenby, P. H. (1992). Making Case Studies Come Alive. Training, 29, (1), 43-46. (ERIC)

This article provides tips for writing more effective case studies.

---. (1981). Pausing and Planning: The Tempo of Writer Discourse Production. Research in the Teaching of English, 15 (2),113-34.

Perl, S. (1979). The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 13, 317-336.

"Summarizes a study of five unskilled college writers, focusing especially on one of the five, and discusses the findings in light of current pedagogical practice and research design."

Pilcher J. and A. Coffey. eds. (1996). Gender and Qualitative Research . Brookfield: Aldershot, Hants, England.

This book provides a series of essays which look at gender identity research, qualitative research and applications of case study to questions of gendered pedagogy.

Pirie, B. S. (1993). The Case of Morty: A Four Year Study. Gifted Education International, 9 (2), 105-109.

This case study describes a boy from kindergarten through third grade with above average intelligence but difficulty in learning to read, write, and spell.

Popkewitz, T. (1993). Changing Patterns of Power: Social Regulation and Teacher Education Reform. Albany: SUNY Press.

Popkewitz edits this series of essays that address case studies on educational change and the training of teachers. The essays vary in terms of discipline and scope. Also, several authors include case studies of educational practices in countries other than the United States.

---. (1984). The Predrafting Processes of Four High- and Four Low Apprehensive Writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 18, (1), 45-64.

Rasmussen, P. (1985, March) A Case Study on the Evaluation of Research at the Technical University of Denmark. International Journal of Institutional Management in Higher Education, 9 (1).

This is an example of a case study methodology used to evaluate the chemistry and chemical engineering departments at the University of Denmark.

Roth, K. J. (1986). Curriculum Materials, Teacher Talk, and Student Learning: Case Studies in Fifth-Grade Science Teaching . East Lansing: Institute for Research on Teaching.

Roth offers case studies on elementary teachers, elementary school teaching, science studies and teaching, and verbal learning.

Selfe, C. L. (1985). An Apprehensive Writer Composes. When a Writer Can't Write: Studies in Writer's Block and Other Composing-Process Problems . (pp. 83-95). Ed. Mike Rose. NMY: Guilford.

Smith-Lewis, M., R. and Ford, A. (1987). A User's Perspective on Augmentative Communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 3, 12-7.

"During a series of in-depth interviews, a 25-yr-old woman with cerebral palsy who utilized augmentative communication reflected on the effectiveness of the devices designed for her during her school career."

St. Pierre, R., G. (1980, April). Follow Through: A Case Study in Metaevaluation Research . 64th Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. (Address).

The three approaches to metaevaluation are evaluation of primary evaluations, integrative meta-analysis with combined primary evaluation results, and re-analysis of the raw data from a primary evaluation.

Stahler, T., M. (1996, Feb.) Early Field Experiences: A Model That Worked. ERIC.

"This case study of a field and theory class examines a model designed to provide meaningful field experiences for preservice teachers while remaining consistent with the instructor's beliefs about the role of teacher education in preparing teachers for the classroom."

Stake, R. E. (1995). The Art of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

This book examines case study research in education and case study methodology.

Stiegelbauer, S. (1984) Community, Context, and Co-curriculum: Situational Factors Influencing School Improvements in a Study of High Schools. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Discussion of several case studies: one looking at high school environments, another examining educational innovations.

Stolovitch, H. (1990). Case Study Method. Performance And Instruction, 29, (9), 35-37.

This article describes the case study method as a form of simulation and presents guidelines for their use in professional training situations.

Thaller, E. (1994). Bibliography for the Case Method: Using Case Studies in Teacher Education. RIE. 37 p.

This bibliography presents approximately 450 citations on the use of case studies in teacher education from 1921-1993.

Thrane, T. (1986). On Delimiting the Senses of Near-Synonyms in Historical Semantics: A Case Study of Adjectives of 'Moral Sufficiency' in the Old English Andreas. Linguistics Across Historical and Geographical Boundaries: In Honor of Jacek Fisiak on the Occasion of his Fiftieth Birthday . Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

United Nations. (1975). Food and Agriculture Organization. Report on the FAO/UNFPA Seminar on Methodology, Research and Country: Case Studies on Population, Employment and Productivity . Rome: United Nations.

This example case study shows how the methodology can be used in a demographic and psychographic evaluation. At the same time, it discusses the formation and instigation of the case study methodology itself.

Van Vugt, J. P., ed. (1994). Aids Prevention and Services: Community Based Research . Westport: Bergin and Garvey.

"This volume has been five years in the making. In the process, some of the policy applications called for have met with limited success, such as free needle exchange programs in a limited number of American cities, providing condoms to prison inmates, and advertisements that depict same-sex couples. Rather than dating our chapters that deal with such subjects, such policy applications are verifications of the type of research demonstrated here. Furthermore, they indicate the critical need to continue community based research in the various communities threatened by acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS) . . . "

Welch, W., ed. (1981, May). Case Study Methodology in Educational Evaluation. Proceedings of the Minnesota Evaluation Conference. Minnesota. (Address).

The four papers in these proceedings provide a comprehensive picture of the rationale, methodology, strengths, and limitations of case studies.

Williams, G. (1987). The Case Method: An Approach to Teaching and Learning in Educational Administration. RIE, 31p.

This paper examines the viability of the case method as a teaching and learning strategy in instructional systems geared toward the training of personnel of the administration of various aspects of educational systems.

Yin, R. K. (1993). Advancing Rigorous Methodologies: A Review of 'Towards Rigor in Reviews of Multivocal Literatures.' Review of Educational Research, 61, (3).

"R. T. Ogawa and B. Malen's article does not meet its own recommended standards for rigorous testing and presentation of its own conclusions. Use of the exploratory case study to analyze multivocal literatures is not supported, and the claim of grounded theory to analyze multivocal literatures may be stronger."

---. (1989). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage Publications Inc.

This book discusses in great detail, the entire design process of the case study, including entire chapters on collecting evidence, analyzing evidence, composing the case study report, and designing single and multiple case studies.

Related Links

Consider the following list of related Web sites for more information on the topic of case study research. Note: although many of the links cover the general category of qualitative research, all have sections that address issues of case studies.

  • Sage Publications on Qualitative Methodology: Search here for a comprehensive list of new books being published about "Qualitative Methodology" http://www.sagepub.co.uk/
  • The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education: An on-line journal "to enhance the theory and practice of qualitative research in education." On-line submissions are welcome. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/tf/09518398.html
  • Qualitative Research Resources on the Internet: From syllabi to home pages to bibliographies. All links relate somehow to qualitative research. http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/qualres.html

Becker, Bronwyn, Patrick Dawson, Karen Devine, Carla Hannum, Steve Hill, Jon Leydens, Debbie Matuskevich, Carol Traver, & Mike Palmquist. (2005). Case Studies. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=60

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