The more that your questions are descriptive or explanatory the more that the case study method will be relevant;
How should I select the case to be studied?": According to Yin: "you need sufficient access to the potential data, whether involving people to be interviewed documents or records to be reviewed, or observations to be made in the 'field'. Given such access to more than a single candidate, you should choose the one(s) that best illuminate(s) your research questions. Absent such access, you should consider changing your research questions, hopefully leading to new candidates to which you do have access."
I am studying a school. What is my case: Is it the teachers? The reading program? The whole school?: Yin states: "The specific definition of your case again depends upon your research question(s). The least desirable question is to want to know "everything that happened." Your literature review should help lead to more specific questions of interest and they, in turn, should readily point to the appropriate definition of the case. As a further part of defining your case, do you think you should identify a particular time period, before and after which events will be deemed irrelevant to the case, or is your case timeless?
How much time and effort should I devote to collecting the case study data? How do I know whether I'm finished collecting the data? Unlike other methods, there is no clear cut-off point. You should try to collect enough data so that: 1) you have confirmatory evidence (evidence from two or more different sources) for most of your main topics; and 2) your evidence includes attempts to investigate major rival hypotheses or explanations. What do you think are some of the cut-off points for other methods, and why wouldn't they work in doing case study research? And How do I start analyzing my case study data? You might start with questions (e.g., the questions in your case study protocol) rather than with the data. Start with a small question first, then identify your evidence that addresses the question. Draw a tentative conclusion based on the weight of the evidence, also asking how you should display the evidence so that readers can check your assessment. Continue to a larger question and repeat the procedure. Keep going until you think you have addressed your main research question(s). Discuss the benefit of starting with questions rather than starting with the data." (2004; p.16) case study is related by Atkinson and Armstrong which focuses on information and elearning design and practice lessons learned from the student's experience of elearning. This case study was conducted in the methodology according to Yin and was 'Interpretive Research', which is focused on understanding phenomenon through means that people assign to them. This research method has No predefined variables - instead focuses on the complexity of behavior as it emerges. Kaplan and Maxwell (1994) Phenomenological Inquiry is also a methodology related by Yin and is research, which asks the question of: " What is the structure and essence of experience this for people. (Patton, 1990) This type of research produces data that is rich, thick, descriptive in which themes and patterns are observed by the researcher. This type methodology asks:
4) Where; and 5) Why.
Recruitment in this type of study is generally accomplished through:
Focus group attendance
It is related in the work of Audet (2005) that Creswell and Stake, whom were both known well for case studies hold that "all studies are value-laden and provide conclusions about value-laden and provide conclusions about value." (Creswell, 1998; as cited in Audet, 2005) Audet states that case study tradition has as its purpose the promotion of understanding through a description of cases. It is related that the philosophical pillars of the research paradigm, the analysis and representation of data should provide a detailed description of the case and the setting." (Audet, 2005) The analysis therefore will be "of multiple sources of data to lend credibility to the research through triangulation, using a survey, documents and interviews. It is not an attempt to quantify or establish validity because these are concepts inconsistent with the purposes, philosophy and overall methodology of this research. The case study is described in a manner in which patterns are established and naturalistic generalizations are developed. Two primary sources of information are used in constructing the case study, specifically people and documents. (Audet, 2005) According to Creswell the "goodness' of a case study lies in the use of the case study inquiry method, the actual design procedures and the researcher's assumptions." (Audet, 2005) It is held by Creswell (1998) that the literature relating to qualitative research is assistive in developing sampling of participants for the interview part of research design." (Creswell, 1998) It is reported that two different strategies were used in garnering participants for interviews and specifically teachers and administrators in this study were given an invitation to volunteer for an interview by contacting the researcher via email. The second strategy was dependent upon the educators responding voluntarily. Finally sampling through a network was also used in a process in which the "names of potential interview candidates were provided through initial interviews with the school district contacts and volunteers. The constructivist paradigm is described as a "basic set of beliefs that guide action" (Lenz, 2005) which comprises the researcher's ontological, epistemological, and methodological premises. An ontological premise refers to the philosophical assumption about the nature of reality, epistemological to the interrelated relationship of researcher to that being studied, and methodological to the researcher' conceptualize of the research process." (Lenz, 2005) In case study research, as the information emerges "the researcher will choose an interpretive path to follow, and will 'report their cases as cases that will be compared with others." (Lenz, 2005) The first step in case study is gathering information through a 'within-case analysis containing a detailed description of each case and its emergent themes." (Lenz, 2005) The next step is a cross-case analysis, in which themes generated in each individual instance will be analyzed across the entire body of cases. (Creswell, 1998; as cited in Lenz, 2005)
Case study, in the view of Creswell involves the researcher pulling data apart and then reassembling the information in meaningful ways, drawing significant from it through direct interpretation. Patterns will be sought, with correspondences between categories developing in naturalistic generalizations." (Lenz, 2005) Following individual case analysis, a cross-case analysis will examine and search for themes among the cases in order to make a determination of themes that are common to all cases. (Creswell, 1998) Yin (1994) defines a case study as "...an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context, when the boundaries between phenomenon and the context are not clearly evidence, and in which the multiple sources of evidence are used. It is particularly valuable in answering who, why and how questions in management research." Yin holds that since case study follows the logic of the experiment instead of logic of the survey, it is not necessary to repeat a case study. This is because the formulation of a theory begins the experiment and then an attempt is made to gather evidence that either supports or disproves the theory and the survey is an attempt to gain a general view of something.
The work of Weiss (1997) reports an interview with Robert K. Yin in which he was asked to share his insights concerning the use of case study methodology in community based initiatives. The first question asked of Yin was: "How can case study methodology be used to study the effectiveness of comprehensive and collaborative community-based initiatives?" Yin answered by stating as follows:
As evaluators of program effectiveness, we are often faced with the challenge of identifying why and how interventions lead to observed results or outcomes. Case study methodology, by investigating phenomena in their real-life context, can be a very important tool in opening the "black box" of how interventions and program effectiveness are linked. This is an advantage over traditional experimental and quasi-experimental designs, which may measure outcomes and some process variables but fall short in dealing with the dynamic that is inherent in community-based collaborative initiatives. Our case study work uses a tool called the "logic model." The logic model outlines the cause and effect steps that link interventions with expected outcomes. It thus lays out the mystery of the "black box" as a set of linkages and hypotheses about how a collaborative really works. These hypotheses can then be "tested" using both quantitative and qualitative data. The logic model concept is not new, as it was first used in evaluability assessment. However, we are using this approach to address one of the perennial challenges evaluators face…