Case Study: Deploying a Pilot

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¶ … Deploying a Pilot Case Study Within a Research Project

Theoretical Approach to Research Study and its methodologies

The Purpose of implementing a Case Study Approach

Yin's Approach to Case Study Research

Creswell's Approach to Research Design

George and Bennett Theory Development in Social Science

Breadth References

PRACTICAL APPROACH TO CASE STUDY METHODOLOGIES: THE IMPORTANCE OF DEPLOYING A PILOT CASE STUDY WITHIN A RESEARCH PROJECT

BREADTH

The work of Robert K. Yin (2004) entitled: "Case Study Methods" states that the case study method has attained routine status as a viable method for doing education research. Other methods include but are not limited to surveys, ethnographies, experiments, quasi-experiments, economic and statistical modeling, hostires, research sytheses and developmental methods." According to Yin, case study research enables the researcher to "investigate important topics not easily covered by other methods. Conversely, other methods cover many topics better than does case study research. The overall idea is that different research methods serve complementary functions." (2004; p.1) Yin relates that the reasons for application of the case study method are:

1) The case study method is pertinent when your research addresses either a descriptive question (what happened?) or an explanatory question (how or why did something happen?);

2) When illumination of a particular situation to get a close understanding of it. (2004) The case study method allowed the researcher to make direct observations and collect data in natural settings, compared to relying on 'derived' data." (Yin, 2004; p.3)

Yin states that: "A key demand of the case study method is the investigator's skill and expertise at pursuing an entire and sometimes subtle line of inquiry at the same time as (and not after) data are being collected." (2004; p.3) Yin states that the basic step in beginning a case study is defining the case that is being studied which is a great help in organization of the case study. Yin states that the virtue of the case study is the ability to "redefine the 'case' after collecting some early data." (2004; p.3) Yin relates that it is likely the researcher will have to "backtrack, reviewing a slightly different literature and possibly revising the original research questions. A second step calls for deciding whether to do a single case study or a set of case studies. The term "case study" can refer to either single- or multiple-case studies. They represent two types of case study designs. You also can choose to keep your case holistic or to have embedded sub-cases within an overall holistic case. For example, your holistic case might be about why a school system had implemented certain student promotion policies, and the system's classrooms could serve as embedded "sub-cases" from which you also collect data. Holistic or embedded case studies represent another two types of case study design, which can exist with either single- or multiple-case studies -- so that you should think of the two-by-two combination producing four basic designs for case studies. Of these combinations, the most intriguing are the ones contrasting single- and multiple-case studies. Focusing on a single case will force you to devote careful attention to that case. However, having multiple cases might help you to strengthen the findings from your entire study." (Yin, 2004; p.4)

Another step in the case study involves "whether or not to sue theory development to:

1) Select the cases(s);

2) Develop the data protocol; and 3) Organize the initial data analysis strategies. (Yin, 2004; p.4)

The six steps that Yin proposes should be used for research include:

Determining and defining the research questions;

Selecting the cases and determining data-gathering and analysis techniques;

Preparation to collect the data;

Collection of data;

Evaluation and analysis of the data; and Preparation of the report. (2002)

Yin relates that in the case of the inexperienced researcher "the less experience...in doing case studies" the more likely it is that the researcher "might want to adopt some theoretical perspectives." (2004; p.5) The reason stated by Yin is that without the theoretical perspectives and 'without adequate prior experience" the researcher might have difficulty in convincing others that the findings of the case study are of value to the field of study. In contrast, the more experienced researcher might avoid the adoption of theoretical perspectives in an attempt to "produce a 'break the mold' case study." (Yin, 2004) Yin states that "A good case study design, at a minimum involves: defining your case, justifying your choice of a single- or multiple-case study, and deliberately adopting or minimizing theoretical perspectives." (2004; p.5)

Yin states that a necessity exists for 'formal screening' in case studies and that useful screening criteria include:

1) The willingness of key persons in the case to participate in the study;

2) The likely richness of the available data; and 3) Preliminary evidence that the case has had the experience or situation that you are seeking to study...even if the case is to be a typical case." (2004; p.6)

Yin states that the "case selection or screening goal is to avoid the scenario whereby, after having started the actual case study, the selected case turns out not to be viable or to represent an instance of something other than what you had intended to study." (2004; p.6) The 'common sources of evidence' in doing case studies are stated by Yin (2004) to include:

1) Documents (e.g., newspaper articles, letters and e-mails, and reports);

2) Archival records (e.g., student records);

3) Interviews (e.g., open-ended conversations with key informants);

4) Direct Observations (e.g., observations of classroom behavior);

5) Participant-Observation (e.g., being identified as a researcher but also filling a real-life role in the scene being studied); and 6) Physical Artifacts (e.g., computer printouts of students' work) (Yin, 2004; p. 7)

Yin states that the researcher might "use focus groups and other sources besides these six." (2004; p.8) The primary concern is that not only one of the sources be used for gathering data because "in collecting case study, the main idea is to 'triangulate' or establish converging lines of evidence to make your findings as robust as possible." (2004; p. 9) The most hoped for convergence in case study triangulation occurs "when two or more independent sources all point to the same set of events or 'facts'." (Yin, 2004; p.10) Yin relates that some researchers, whether by preference or experience "can only deal comfortably with a single type of evidence - e.g. interviews. Such persons may give too much weight to what they hear others saying..." And as a result is not able to be thorough in their search for other evidence that is relevant..." (Yin, 2004; p.11)

Case study data may be of both a qualitative and quantitative nature with qualitative data being "non-numeric data" and qualitative data being "numeric data" with both of these data types being "highly complex, demanding analytic techniques..." (Yin, 2004; p.12) According to Yin, the conduction of the case study should "...follow the classic way of presenting evidence: arraying data through tables, charts, figures, other exhibits (even pictures), and vignettes. Footnotes, quotations from interviews, chronologies and narrative questions-and-answers also are suitable -- as long as these are set apart from your interpretive narrative. Whatever the way of presenting the data, the structure or format of the array needs to reflect an overarching concern for presenting data fairly. A brief description of how the evidence was collected, including use of a formal data collection tool (case study protocol), also is helpful." (2004; p. 13)

Yin relates that: "Case studies should present their data formally and explicitly, in a variety of data arrays set apart from the case study narrative." (2004; p. 13) Yin relates that in the realization that "...key underlying assumptions for later analysis are in fact made at the initial stages of the case study, you could have anticipated and planned the analytic strategies or implications when conducting those initial stages. Collecting the actual data may lead to changes in this plan, but having an initial plan that needs to be revised (even drastically) may be better than having no plan at all." (2004; p.13)

There are various techniques in analysis that can be used during the case study design with one possibility stated to be the stipulation of some "pattern of findings at the outset" of the case study. The analysis 'would then consist of pattern-matching the collected evidence against the initially stipulated pattern." (Yin, 2004; p.13) Other techniques of analysis include:

1) Explanation-building, 2) Time-series analysis, and 3) The use of logic models, and cross-case synthesis." (Yin, 2004; p.14)

Yin states that "an obvious example would be to tell your story in chronological sequence. (2004; p. 15) Yin also states that case study analysis may be reliant on several techniques, "...whose use might even be anticipated through the initial design of the case study; the analysis can be present throughout a case study..." during the gradual building of an argument that supports the research questions.

Yin states that the five common worries of those using the case study method of research… [END OF PREVIEW]

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