Reflections on Cohen, L, Bell, R, Manion, L, Morrison K, (2007) Chapter 11 Case studies, Research methods in education

Some excerpts from the chapter 11 (Research methods in education)

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“Case studies can establish cause and effect, indeed one of their strengths is that they observe effects in real contexts, recognising that context is powerful determinant of both causes and effects.”

“Case studies are set in temporal, geographical, organisational, institutional and other contexts that enable boundaries to be drawn around the case.”

“Nisbet and Watt (1984:91) specifically counsel case study researchers to avoid:

-Journalism: picking out more striking feature of the case….

-Selective reporting: selecting only evidence which will support a particular conclusion

-An anecdotal style: degenerating into an endless series of low-level banal and tedious illustrations…

-Pomposity: striving to derive or generate profound theories from low-level data…

-Blandness: unquestioningly accepting only the respondents’ views or including only those aspects of the case study on which people agree rather than areas on which they might disagree.”

“There are several types of case study. Yin (1984) identifies three such types in terms of their outcomes: exploratory (as a pilot to other studies or research questions); descriptive (providing narrative accounts); explanatory (testing theories) “

“Shaughnessy et al (2003: 290-9) suggest that case sties often lacks a high degree of control…. Case studies , they argue, may be impressionistic, and self-reporting may be biased(by the participant or the observer)”

“2 principal types of Observation – participant and non participant.”

“Why participant observation?”

“The task of the educational investigator is very often to explain the means by which an orderly social world is established and maintained in terms of its shared  meanings.”

Recording observations

“I filled thirty two notebooks with about half a million words of notes made during nearly six hundred hours (or observations) (king,1979)”

“Nisbet and Watt (1984: 78) suggest three main stages in undertaking a case study. Because case studies catch the dynamics of unfolding situations it is advisable to commence with a very wide field of cops, an open phase, without selectivity or prejudgement. Thereafter progressive focusing enables a narrower field of focus to be established, identifying key foci for subsequent study and data collection. At the third stage a draft interpretation is prepared which needs to be checked with respondents before appearing in the final form…… Respondent validation….”

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