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Educational Research: The Case Study Methodology

Educational Research: The Case Study Methodology

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Educational Research: The Case Study Methodology

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  1. Educational Research: The Case Study Methodology EDU 8677 Educational Research Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.

  2. Qualitative research... • Commonly called “interpretive research” …its methods rely heavily on “thick” verbal descriptions of a particular social context being studied

  3. Is useful for describing or answering questions about particular, localized occurrences or contexts and the perspectives of a participant group toward events, beliefs, or practices …a helpful process for exploring a complex research area about which little is known

  4. Illuminates the “invisibility of everyday life” …by making the familiar strange, more examined, and better understood

  5. Qualitative methods... • historical research • grounded theory • ethnography • phenomenology • case study • symbolic interaction • ethology • action research • ethnomethodology

  6. case study …examines the characteristics of a particular entity, phenomenon, or person

  7. Generally speaking, qualitative researchers…. …spend a great deal of time in the settings being studied (fieldwork) …rely on themselves as the main instrument of data collection (subjectivity; intersubjectivity) …analyze data using interpretative lenses

  8. …employ expressive language and voice in descriptions and explanations …seek depth of perspective through ongoing analysis (i.e., “waves of data”) …judged in terms of believability, trustworthiness, coherence, and the logic underlying researcher’s interpretations

  9. The general characteristics of qualitative research... Data sources are real-world situations  Data are descriptive Emphasizes a holistic approach (processes and outcomes)  Data analysis is inductive  Describes the meaning(s) of research finding(s) from the perspective of the research participants

  10. Uses inductive reasoning… …involves developing generalizations from a limited number of specific observations or experiences …highly dependent on the number and representativeness of the specific observations used to make the generalization

  11. Issues in qualitative research... a.gaining entry b.contacting potential research participants c.selecting participants d.enhancing validity and reducing bias e.leaving the field

  12. a. gaining entry... access is very much dependent upon the researcher’s personal characteristics and how others perceive the researcher may require considerable negotiation and compromise with a gatekeeper trust is earned, not given

  13. b. contacting participants... gaining access dealing with gatekeeper(s) issues of building trust and ensuring confidentiality and anonymity

  14. c. selecting participants... the goal is to get the deepest possible understanding of the setting being studied requires identifying participants who can provide information about the particular topic and setting being studied

  15. is fraught with difficulties in identifying and selecting an appropriate number of participants who can provide useful information about the particular topic and setting being studied utilizes purposive sampling

  16. two general guidelines: the number of participants is sufficient when… …the extent to which the selected participants represent the range of potential participants in the setting …the point at which the data gathered begins to be redundant (“data saturation”)

  17. The threats to validity in qualitative studies... observer bias… …invalid information resulting from the perspective the researcher brings to the study and imposes upon it observer effects… …the impact of the observer’s participation on the setting or the participants being studied

  18. d. strategies to enhance validity and to reduce bias... extend the time for observing the setting include more participants to make the study more representative focus upon building participant trust in order to access more detailed and honest data

  19. identify biases and preferences, seek them out by asking others work with another researcher and compare field notes and impressions from independent observations after observations are completed, offer participants an opportunity to validate accuracy of the verbatims

  20. journalize one’s own reflections, concerns, and uncertainties during the study and refer to them when examining the data carefully examine unusual or contradictory results for explanations (“outliers”)

  21. utilize a variety of data sources to confirm one another to corroborate participant information (“triangulation”)

  22. e. leaving the field… The question is when and how to exit …the bonds formed with study participants complicate leaving the setting …time constraints …when the amount of accessible data is sufficient

  23. The basic steps of qualitative research... 1.Write a tentative research proposal 2.Intensive participation in a field setting 3.Collect detailed data from field activities 4.Synthesize and interpret the meanings of the field data 5.Write the research report

  24. 1. The qualitative research proposal... defines area of study identifies setting or context of study specifies the kinds of data to be collected describes methods to be used provides the researcher’s rationale for undertaking the study identifies the study’s potential contribution(s)

  25. 2. Intensive participation in a field setting... participation: as a participant (“participant observer”) or nonparticipant approach to participation: overt or covert requires experiencing the situation from the perspective of both an observer and a participant

  26. 3. Collecting and analyzing data... primary tools include observations and interviews but can also include personal and official documents, photographs, recordings, drawings, emails, and informal conversations multiple data sources are normative

  27. the researcher records descriptive as well as reflective notes about what one has seen, heard, experienced, and thought about a during an observation session

  28. regarding field notes… …put aside assumptions, experience context first …see phenomena through participants’ perspective …write up notes immediately following an observation

  29. …detail is critical: include date, site, time, and topic on every set of field notes; leave wide margins for writing impressions; use only one side of a page of paper; draw diagram of site (if necessary) …list key words first, then outline one’s observations

  30. …keep the descriptive and reflective sections separate …use memos to record hunches, questions, and insights after each observation …number the lines or paragraphs for easy access

  31. regarding interviews… …the purpose is to explore and to probe the interviewee’s responses in order to gather in-depth data …the interviewer inquires into the interviewees’ attitudes, interests, feelings, concerns, and values as these relate to the context being studied

  32. …meaning is jointly constructed between the interviewer and the interviewee; meaning is not just a construction on the part of the interviewee

  33. …be alert for openings in responses to probe more deeply, starting with mundane questions and gradually easing into more sensitive and more complex questions

  34. …interview data collection techniques include taking notes during the interview, writing notes after the interview, or tape recording and transcribing the interview (the transcript is a “verbatim”)

  35. Interview do’s and don’ts... Do listen more and talk less Do follow up on what is not clear and probe more deeply into what is revealed Don’t use leading questions; do use open-ended questions (“probes”) Don’t interrupt; do wait

  36. Do keep interviewee(s) focused Do ask for concrete details Do tolerate silence and space between interviewee’s responses; do allow the interviewee time to think Don’t be judgmental about or react to an interviewee’s opinions, views, or beliefs

  37. Don’t engage in debate with an interviewee Do record everything the interviewee says and note impressions of interviewee’s nonverbal behavior

  38. 4. Synthesis and interpretation of the meanings of field data... a formidable task because data are thick and deep as well as voluminous and unorganized (“field notes”) involves a systematic and iterative process of searching, categorizing, and integrating data (“managing data”) understanding emerges as data are integrated

  39. Analyzing field data… data pieces data categories data patterns

  40. four-step iterative process of data management... a.reading and memoing to become familiar with data and to identify main themes b.examining data to develop detailed descriptions of the setting, participants, and activities

  41. c.classifying the data, including categorization, coding, and grouping into thematic units d.interpreting and synthesizing the organized data into general conclusions or understandings

  42. Involves working with field notes… …deconstructing data into pieces …reconstructing the data pieces into categories …identifying patterns for understanding, synthesis, and interpretation

  43. Criteria suitable for qualitative data analysis... a.credibility or plausibility b.transferability c.including a methods section

  44. credibility or plausibility …to demonstrate that the study was conducted in such a manner as to ensure that the subject was accurately identified and described

  45. transferability …to demonstrate that the results of the study are generalizable to others in the original research context or to contexts beyond the original study

  46. including a methods section …to provide an in-depth description of the processes and methods used in the study

  47. Strategies for analyzing qualitative data... a.constant comparison method b.negative case and discrepant data methods c.analytic induction

  48. constant comparison method …compares new evidence to prior evidence to identify similarities and differences between observations

  49. negative case and discrepant data methods …the search for contradictory, variant, or disconfirming data within the body of data collected that provides an alternative perspective on an emerging category or pattern

  50. analytic induction …a process concerned with developing and testing a theory in order to generalize a study’s findings