|Qualitative Case Study Research Method|
A qualitative research is defined as an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem, based on building a complex, holistic pictures, formed with words, reporting detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting. A quantitative research is an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the predictive generalizations of the theory true. (Creswell, 1994)
Creswell (1994) suggests 5 criteria in selecting between qualitative and quantitative research, namely, 1) researcher's Worldview, 2) the training and experience of the researcher, 3) researcher's psychological attributes, 4) nature of the problem, 5) audience for the study
|The following table shows the reasons between qualitative and quantitative research.|
Definition of Qualitative
Case Study Research:
Many writers have advanced definitions for qualitative case study. Merriam (1988)'s definition is: "Qualitative case study can be defined as an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single entity, phenomenon or social unit. Case studies are particularistic, descriptive and heuristic, and rely heavily on inductive reasoning in handling multiple data sources."
Particularistic means that a case study focuses on a particular situation, event, program, individual, institution or phenomenon. The case itself is important for what it reveals about the phenomenon and for what it might represent. This specificity of focus makes it an especially good design for practical problems. (Merriam, 1988)
Descriptive means that the end product of a case study is a rich, 'thick' description of the phenomenon under study. 'Thick' description is a term from anthropology and means the complete literal description of the incident or entity being investigated. (Merriam, 1988). It also means " interpreting the meaning of íK demographic and descriptive data in terms of cultural norms and mores, community values, deep-seated attitudes and notions, and the likes" (Guba & Lincoln, 1981)
Heuristic means that case studies illuminates the reader's understanding of the phenomenon under study. (Merriam, 1988) Previously unknown relationships and variables can be expected to emerge from case studies leading to a rethink of the phenomenon being studied. (Stakes, 1981) Inductive means that, for the most part, case studies rely on inductive reasoning.
|Characteristics / assumptions of qualitative case study: Link|
Types of Case Study Research:
Case studies can be classified into 4 types according to their disciplinary orientations as follows: (Merriam, 1988)
1. An 'Ethnographic case study' is more than an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a social unit or phenomenon. It is a sociocultural analysis and interpretation of the unit of study.
2. A 'Historical case study' presents a holistic description and analysis of a specific case from a historical perspective. Historical case studies have tended to be descriptions of institutions, programs and practices as they have involved in time.
3. A 'Psychological case study' focuses on an individual as a way to investigate some aspects of human behavior.
4. A 'Sociological case study' attends to the constructs of society and socialization in studying educational phenomenon.
Irrespective of disciplinary orientations, case studies can be classified according to the overall intent of the study as follows:
1. A 'descriptive case study' in education is one that presents a detailed account of the phenomenon under study. Lijphart (1971) described such case studies as " entirely descriptive and move in a theoretical vacuum." They are useful in presenting basic information about areas of education where little research has been done. Such case studies often involve innovative programs and practices and often form a database for future comparison and theory building. (Merriam, 1998)
2. 'Interpretative case studies' contain rich, thick descriptions, which are used to develop conceptual categories or to illustrate, support or challenge theoretical assumptions held prior to the data gathering. The level of abstraction and conceptualization in such case studies may range from suggesting relationships among variables to constructing theories. The model of analysis is inductive. (Merriam, 1988)
3. 'Evaluative case studies' involve description, explanation and judgment. The case study is a particularly good means of educational evaluation because of its ability to explain the causal links in real-life interventions that are too complex for the survey or experimental strategies. (Yin, 1984)
4. 'Pilot case studies' is a final preparation of data collection. It helps investigators to refine their data collection plans with respect to both the content of the data and the procedures to be followed. (Yin, 1994)
case Vs multiple cases:
Applications of the method:
1) what the researcher wants to know,
2) how the problem is defined and,
3) the questions it raises.
Kenny & Grotelueschen (1980) suggest the following 3 preconditions to decide on the appropriateness of using a qualitative case study:
1. Consider a case study when the focus is on humanistic outcomes or cultural differences, as opposed to behavioral outcomes or individual differences.
2. The uniqueness of the situation.
3. Consider a case study data collected is not subject to truth or falsity but 'can be subject to scrutiny on the grounds of credibility.