Case Studies

This week we looked closely at another method for approaching qualitative research. Understanding the genre features of qualitative research: A case study by Y.H. Guo was a case study about a failed case study research project. The “meta” one-two-punch of Guo’s design afforded us new insights about what is important when undertaking qualitative approaches, as well as the various possible pitfalls of this methodological approach. In the end, it was the compelling (and depressing) story of grad student “Lin” (pseudonym of course), and his false-starts-in-research, that exhibited for us a variety of mistakes when conducting a case study approach.

A case study is one of the most commonly used methodologies of social research. With the case study approach, we come to understand that social constructs should be interpreted rather than measured. Case study is an empirical inquiry which investigates a phenomenon in its real-life context. In a case study, multiple methods of data collection are used, as it involves an in-depth study of a complex phenomenon. A common contentious issue with case study methodology overall is whether the findings of the study of a single social unit can be generalized over the larger population of similar units. But the trend here with qualitative research (and more specifically, case study research) is that knowledge production moves towards dynamic, holistic, and individual aspects of human experience. In this way Guo alluded to the significance of situational “representativeness” rather than the demographic “representativeness”.

This was a quirky yet useful study, opening our perspectives to what affordances may come from approaching a case study effectively. Thank you to Brittney for leading us through some of the highlighted pitfalls of Lin’s attempt to do graduate level research work (i.e. a lack of a Lit Review before gathering data; lack of thoughtful design for a variety of different research instruments (working effectively in concert); imprecise/vague instruments for data gathering; lack of preparation/understanding in how to interpret the data; lack of communication with a research adviser; failing to seek support).

Our class slides

Jump starting your own ideas for your research

We discussed how to begin the journey of your research. You are now entering the “Discovery & Invention” zone. Remember in the early generative stages of starting research that there is a crucial difference between a topic and a question. Reminder: avoid the “narrow down the topic” trap (…because…you cannot narrow your way out of topic land.)

  1. Make yourself vulnerable
  2. Be affirmative and non judgemental
  3. Write down your ideas
  4. Generate questions internally- consider both your curiosities and your assumptions

Your to-do list

Please read: 

Leander & Lovvorn. (August 2006)  Literacy Networks: Following the Circulation of Texts, Bodies, and Objects in the Schooling and Online Gaming of One Youth Cognition and Instruction 24(3):291-340 DOI: 10.1207/s1532690xci2403_1

Blog 6 due 3/7 – Please write your blog reflection on our Actor Network Theory article for discussion. 

Daniel will lead our discussion in class next week in Part 2 of our class time, after we meet with Craig Anderson in Part 1 of class. 

In addition, please do at least 15 mins of “freewriting” to generate early ideas about the topics you might have in mind. Some questions may come to mind that might be useful when visiting the Learning Commons (Library Rm. 115). Please try to formulate a few questions for us when we are exploring the search engines with Craig.

Have a good weekend, and glad to mention that we have made it to March!

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