Case Studies in Education

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    The use of case studies is invaluable to any pedagogical training
    because it uses specific, real world scenarios that present a dilemna,
    rather than abstract, hypothetical scenarios which may not apply
    in real world contexts. The importance of maintaining anonymity of the
    participants in the case study is of utmost importance. There is an
    excellent outline for writing case studies on Longwood College’s
    special education webpage.

    While a formal case study maintains certain
    standards pertaining to writing and structure, a more informal approach
    in a web forum context that maintains the ethical standards and intent
    of the case study can be a great asset to the development of harp
    pedagogues. Below are those excerpts from Longwood’s site that pertain
    to the ethics, goals, and content of a case study.

    “How to write a case study

    1. What a case is: a narrative account of a behavior management problem that presents a dilemma for resolution by the reader.

    A. What a case should do: Represent the reality of the problem and its
    context as completely and accurately as possible. Offer no
    simulations, only personal recollections that will stimulate discussion
    and analysis at multiple levels of abstractions.

    B. Characteristics of a useful case

    1. Highlights issues in a troubling situation and identifies various
    dimensions of the problem (e.g. ethical, pedagogical, political, and
    policy issues)

    2. Frames problems in productive ways (i.e. that allow analysis)

    3. facilitates analysis of multiple causal factors

    4. suggest options (both obvious and subtle) for approaching the problem

    5. suggests risks, ramifications, and possible consequences of alternative courses of action.

    6. deals with cognitive and affective aspects of the problem

    C. Choosing what to write about

    1. any narrative can be turned into a case if it includes a description of:

    a. a problem or dilemma in sufficient detail

    b. a teacher’s actions

    c. what happened as a result of the teacher’s actions

    d. the teacher’s perceptions and reflections on the problem and what happened.

    1. must describe an actual situation, not hypothetical

    2. must present a dilemma

    3. must present complex situations (more complex problem than may be immediately apparent)

    4. teacher must be individual responsible for action

    5. must generate more than one possible solution

    6. may be drawn from your own experience (present or past) or the experience of someone you interview in depth


    E. Ethics of writing cases

    1. Stay close enough to the actual details to avoid misrepresentation of problem.

    2. Change names and locations (and perhaps genders) to protect identities of characters and institutions.”

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