Saturday, February 14, 2009

Case Studies

Case studies, a type of qualitative research, examine and analyze segments of whole situations as they occur in order to identify new variables and questions for further research. Subjects are selected based on their relation to the theory or hypothesis that fuel the purpose of the case study. For example Graves chose 8 students that she felt best represented the community she was attempting to gain information about. Likewise, Brandt interviewed individuals who among other things were born in a specific timeframe, and Hayes and Flower chose 4 subjects that exemplified the categories of writer's they wished to study.

data is collected in a number of ways. For example Emig gathered information from several sources: conversations and tape recording among other things. Hayes and Flower collected information via their subjects writing and also through questions asked of the subjects directly during the research process, Brandt observed writing sessions, executed interviews and collected other records related to the subjects.

Analyzing of the data results in category development and coding.This can be done via the "General Inquirer" or the "writer's work bench". Category development can also result from researchers imposing thier theory onto the data collected or from the data and theory/hypothesis shaping each other.

In the end : generalizations are difficult with the use of case studies. Often case studies result in information that can only be stated to be applicable to those that were studied and suggest further research in the area; however, a study that incorporates and builds on older studies such as Flower and Hayes increases the generalization of the information that results from the study.

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