Describe the benefits and limitations of using the case study method. Case study research refers to an in-depth, detailed study of an individual or a small group of individuals. Such studies are typically qualitative in nature, resulting in a narrative description of behavior or experience. Case study research is not used to determine cause and effect, nor is it used to discover generalizable truths or make predictions.
Rather, the emphasis in case study research is placed on exploration and description of a phenomenon. The main characteristics of case study research are that it is narrowly focused, provides a high level of detail, and is able to combine both objective and subjective data to achieve an in-depth understanding.
Quantitative studies commonly ask questions of who, what, where, how much and how many. Case studies, on the other hand, are used to answer questions of how or why. They are commonly used to collect in-depth data in a natural setting where the researcher has little or no control over the events and there is a real life context. Often times, the goal of a case study is provide information that may research in the formation of a hypothesis for future research. Case studies are commonly used in social science research and educational settings.
For example, case studies may be used to study psychological problems such as the development of a child raised by a single, deaf parent or the effects on a child who had been isolated, abused and neglected until the age of 12 years old.
Case studies could also be used in an educational setting to explore the development of writing skills in a small group of high school freshmen taking a creative writing class. There are several types of case study methods. The method selected depends upon the nature of the question being asked and the goals of the researcher. Exploratory — This method is a condensed case study and the purpose is to gather basic, initial data that could be used to identify a particular question for a larger study.
This study is not designed to produce detailed data from which any conclusions could be drawn. It is simply exploratory in nature. It has the advantage of saving time and money by not creating new and repetitive studies.
Critical Instance — These studies are used to examine situations of unique interest or to challenge a universal or generalized belief. Such studies are not to create new generalizations. Rather, several situations or events may be examined to raise questions or challenge previously held assertions. Once the question has been identified and the basic type of case study method has been selected, the researcher will need to begin designing their case study approach.
In order to obtain a full and detailed picture of the participant or small group, the researcher can use a variety of approaches and methods to collect data.
These methods may include interviews, field studies, protocol or transcript analyses, direct participant observations, a review of documents and archived records, and an exploration of artifacts. Researchers may choose to use one of these methods to collect data single method approach or they may use several methods multi-modal approach.
After the researcher has determined the data collection methods and what type of data will be used and recorded in the study, he or she will need to decide upon a strategy for analyzing the data. Case study researchers typically interpret their data either holistically or through coding procedures. A holistic approach reviews all of the data as a whole and attempts to draw conclusions based on the data in its entirety. This is an appropriate approach when the question being studied is more general in nature and the data provides an overview.
Sometimes, it may be more useful to break the data into smaller pieces. This usually involves searching the data to identify and categorize specific actions or characteristics.
These categories can be assigned a numeric code that allows the data to be analyzed using statistical, quantitative methods. Regardless of the type of case study, data collection method or data analysis method, all case studies have advantages and disadvantages. The following list discusses the potential benefits and limitations associated with using case study research methods: Advantages: Case studies are more flexible than many other types of research and allow the researcher to discover and explore as the research develops.
Case studies emphasize in-depth content. All the approaches mentioned here use preconceived categories in the analysis and they are ideographic in their approach, i. Case studies are widely used in psychology and amongst the best known were the ones carried out by Sigmund Freud. He conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses.
Even today case histories are one of the main methods of investigation in abnormal psychology and psychiatry. For students of these disciplines they can give a vivid insight into what those who suffer from mental illness often have to endure. The case study research method originated in clinical medicine the case history, i. In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual. The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual's past i.
This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist, i. There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical i.
The procedure used in a case study means that the researcher provides a description of the behavior. This comes from interviews and other sources, such as observation.
The client also reports detail of events from his or her point of view. The researcher then writes up the information from both sources above as the case study, and interprets the information. Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always make clear which information is factual description and which is an inference or the opinion of the researcher.
Strengths of Case Studies Provides detailed rich qualitative information. Provides insight for further research. Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical or unethical situations.
Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways.
This means that there is a lot of scope for observer bias and it could be that the subjective opinions of the psychologist intrude in the assessment of what the data means. McGraw-Hill Humanities Social.
Case studies are commonly used in social science research and educational settings. For students of these disciplines they can give a vivid insight into what those who suffer from mental illness often have to endure. Often leads to the creation of new hypotheses that can be tested later. Because of the in-depth nature of the data, it is not possible to conduct the research on a large scale. The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual's past i.
The interview is also an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person's friends, parents, employer, work mates and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself. There are concerns about the reliability, validity and generalizability of the results. Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical or unethical situations. Most of this information is likely to be qualitative i. They are commonly used to collect in-depth data in a natural setting where the researcher has little or no control over the events and there is a real life context. Difficult to replicate.
For students of these disciplines they can give a vivid insight into what those who suffer from mental illness often have to endure. Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical or unethical situations. Difficult to replicate. This usually involves searching the data to identify and categorize specific actions or characteristics. There are several types of case study methods.