At times, even though the research may be complicated by varying definitions of homelessness, researchers are establishing methods for estimating the size of the homeless population, which includes people who have nowhere to go; at risk of losing housing through eviction or institutional discharge (Drury, 2008).
Case Study Methodology
In the case study methodology, a form of qualitative descriptive research, according to M. Dereshiwsky (1999) in "Electronic Textbook - Let Us Count the Ways: Strategies for Doing Qualitative Research," the researcher using the case study methodology does not focus on discovering a universal, generalizable truth, nor do the researcher generally search for cause-effect relationships. Instead, the researcher emphasizes the exploring and describing process. As the researcher examines one individual or small participant pool, he/she then draws conclusions only about that one particular participant or group; only in the designated, specific context Case Studies 2008).
In considering or defining the case study methodology, the researcher found that case studies may point to focus or approach a broad view of life. Case study, a method involves the researcher systematically gathering enough information about a particular person, social setting, event, or group to permit him/her to effectively understand how the subject operates or functions (Berg, 2007).
Observation/ethnographic research contrasts the case study methodology, as it involves the researcher entering the setting being investigated and observing participants and/or listening to discussions the participants engage in. As observing or hearing everything or hearing all of the participant's experiences or conversations proves virtually impossible, ethnographers observe and listen only to particular portions of the participants' experiences and discussions (Berg, 2007).
Focus group interviewing style also contrasts the case study methodology. The investigator forms and leads a group discussion on a particular pertinent topic(s) in focus group interviewing. This methodology, designed for small groups of unrelated individuals, formed by enables the researcher to learn through discussion about conscious, semiconscious, and unconscious psychological and sociocultural characteristics and processes among groups (Berg, 2007).
Psychologists have utilized the various kinds of case study methodology since the early stages of the development of the discipline. Notably, Freud and his followers, as well as Piaget and Inhelder, used case studies as venues to describe and explore psychological processes. In contemporary research, the researcher frequently incorporates ethnography or phenomenology in case study, with the primary purpose to obtain in-depth knowledge about an individual, a group of individuals, or other bounded fields of interest (Berg, 2007).
The term "case study," per se, refers both to methodological strategy and subject of study. Social scientists routinely implement the case-study approach as a methodological strategy when they aim to provide rich descriptions and analyses of a single case, or a small number of cases (Turner, 2006). A case study combines observations of behavior without observations of attitudes and perceptions of research case participants (Berg, 2007). This approach allows researchers to develop a detailed view of processes, interactions, and meaning systems in a way that would prove prohibitive if the researcher were examining dozens or hundreds of cases (Turner, 2006).
According to Creswell (2009), case studies depict a strategy of inquiry, utilizing data collection procedures over a period of time, which researchers implement to process collected detailed information. Case studies may prove particularly pertinent to explain cases that do not fit an existing theory; to explain why the case violates theoretical predictions and to refine or replace an existing hypothesis. The case study may also specify its scope conditions as it proffers rich, detailed data, difficult to obtain from more representative research designs. The case study, albeit, may include the cost of a lack of generalization.
Case studies, nevertheless, prove advantageous at times as they enable the researcher to achieve insights unavailable from quantitative methods. Case studies include a myriad of interesting and gratifying types of research, which in turn, enable the researcher conducting a case study to experience the satisfaction that encompasses being on the edge of knowledge building about a problem or question. A disadvantage of case study includes its limited capacity to generate definitive knowledge. Due to the minute number sampled in case studies, the case study reportedly cannot be considered representative, as few real conclusions emerge from them. In addition, the case study does not permit the researcher to generalize from the participants to others who were not part of the study. Consequently, the external validity of a case study's findings purportedly proves particularly diminutive (Creswell, 2009; Turner, 2006).
The primary benefit of case study research includes the depth of information the methodology provides, within context, about a single unit (person, organization, or issue). This detailed information, often referred to as thick descriptions, provides a real-world context in which the processes under investigation may be better understood. Case study research may also benefit theory building and result in more robust theories that reflect contextual influences (Creswell, 2009).
A number of case study qualitative researchers argue that the method proffers high construct validity because it does not mandate that constraints be placed on the situation being investigated, a traditional, necessary element of quantitative research. Due to the case study's narrow focus and sample, the most common argument against the use of the case study method as a technique for scientific inquiry includes the argument that this method lacks the generalizability of findings Creswell, 2009).
For a number of researchers, external validity only involves the use of sample data to approximate population parameters in order to identify a universal law of behavior and achieve statistical generalizability. Internal validity may also be an issue in case study research in that the researcher exerts little to no control over the factors influencing the behavior or individuals of interest. This lack of control may contribute to questions regarding the establishment of any patterns of behavior. Case study researchers argue, albeit, that the consistency of the case study process may be enhanced by thorough research protocols with careful documentation. Some researchers, who subscribe to case study methodology, also argue that a shift in thinking to an examination of dependability, or the stability and consistency of the process of collecting the in-depth data needs to occur, rather than continued focus on the outcome of the data-collection procedure (Creswell, 2009.
In the study, "Factors changing attitudes of graduate school students toward an introductory research methodology course," Simon A. Lei (2008) Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nevada, examines six factors that changed attitudes of graduate students regarding an introductory research methods course. Using the Student Research Assessment Survey, Lei (2008) found a semblance of similarity in the student's attitudes toward statistics courses and research methods courses. The six factors that significantly influenced student attitudes in regard to research during the course of a semester, which Lei investigated, include:
1. Students' research interest,
3. overall self-efficacy,
4. training environment,
5. students' levels of research anxiety, and
6. task difficulty (Lei, 2008).
Providing explicit research opportunities within the student's training environment, Lei, (2008) asserts, serves to help ensure the student's attitude toward research will be positive. In addition, providing the student with specific interventions such as instruction in research methodology, for example, may also increase the student's research self-efficacy, expand his/her perception of the research's utility, as well as, decrease his/her anxiety level task difficulty relating to the research effort.
Khairul Baharein Mohd Noor (2009), Universiti Industri Selangor, Malaysia, contends that the methodology the researcher chooses to employ directly relates to the nature of the research problem. In the report, "Case study: A strategic research methodology," Noor (2009) notes the existence of two basic methodological traditions of research in social science: positivism and post-positivism (phenomenology) (Noor, 2009, ¶ 1).
Positivism, according Noor (2009), approaches the development of knowledge through research stressing the natural science model, in which the scientist, who adopts the position of objective researcher, collects facts relating to the social world and then arranges such facts in a chain of causality to build an explanation of social life. Post-positivism, on the other hand, rather than objectively determining findings, relates to the socially constructed reality. Noor further explains that positivism, as its base evolves from the natural science model of dealing with facts, more closely links with the quantitative methodology. In contrast, as post-positivism relates to understanding the subjectivity of social phenomena, this research requires a qualitative methodology.
The case study, Noor (2009) acknowledges, does not aim to encompass the entire organization, but instead, intends to focus on a particular feature, issue, or unit of analysis. The case study method proves particularly practical to gain an enhanced understanding of a particular problem or situation.
Focus Group Study
The focus group study, a qualitative method involving a group discussion, typically supplements other methodologies, Gross (1996) explains. The roots for this particular methodology stem from market research; however, human geographers routinely utilize this methodology. Usually, six to twelve participants partake in this study scenario, which focuses around the questions a moderator presents. The focus group constitutes a form of research designed…