A case study can be described simply as an in-depth, descriptive examination of a specific case within a more general, real-life context. For instance, case studies within healthcare might focus on a specific individual patient or disease; case studies in education might examine a school subject or set of classes; or case studies might be written about an industry or occupation. The cases could also be fictional, set up as a fictional event that is being recreated for a class or audience. Case studies might even be written about something that has already happened and is being analyzed from a scientific perspective. As you can see, a case study can take many forms, but it all basically boils down to one central concept: what the case Study is trying to say. And while that might sound like a pretty broad overview, it’s actually very useful when it comes to understanding what is case study is all about.
What Is Case Study Research? Basically, Case Study Research is concerned with how data is gathered and analyzed within a larger context. These methods have been developed over the years by Case Study Facilitators (or Coaches), who have found that by using a structured approach, they are able to bring a wide range of disciplines together to create a new learning method. This has led to many researchers across the United States and Europe studying how these approaches can be best applied to a wide variety of fields and circumstances.
Case studies were first introduced into the classroom nearly a century ago in the United Kingdom. And, although this relatively new approach hasn’t been around nearly as long as some of the other approaches that have been developed over time (such as Qualitative Research and Data Collection), Case Study Research Coaches have found that it is still one of the most effective methods available. In fact, some of the most well-known Case Studies in Education (CASE) courses are still popular today.
However, despite the longevity and popularity of the Case Study method, there have been many changes and developments within the methods and materials used to deliver this type of education. What we are looking at here is a different angle on how this unique teaching method can best fit a number of different situations. Let’s take a look at some of the different approaches and key elements involved in understanding the Case Study methodology.
Perhaps the most common approach to understanding the Case Study approach is to first understand its philosophical orientation. Most Case Study Organizers adhere to a strong philosophical orientation when delivering their course. The philosophy generally centers around a specific topic or problem and how the student will learn about it. Some philosophers lean toward using a more scientific method, while others prefer to provide a more philosophical perspective on the subject matter. As you can see, the philosophical orientation helps to define what a student will be exposed to throughout the duration of the case study research process.
Another approach that some instructors take is to use a descriptive approach. This means that the instructor will use descriptive language throughout the case study research. For instance, in the case of the 2021 DoD Suite of Best Practices, the Department of Defense published a DoD-approved guide for best practices in integrating technology into the workplace. The guide characterized the book as a “case study on how DoD personnel maximize information technology benefits for the DoD.”
A third major change that has occurred over the past five to ten years is the integration of technological information into traditional case study research. In fact, some educational software companies actually recommend the use of case study designs in teaching courses. There is now an entire industry focused on providing students with engaging and comprehensive information regarding the fundamental elements of case study research.
In summary, there are a number of different approaches to understanding what is case study. Some instructors incorporate case study research into teaching strategies in order to provide students with engaging and detailed information regarding the fundamental elements. Other instructors use either a descriptive approach or a mixed-method approach. Many instructors have developed their own hybrid approaches that integrate quantitative measures and qualitative measures.