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Conducting Case Studies and Maintaining Field Diaries

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In today’s lesson, we will study about case studies and field diaries.Let me begin by saying that for the sake of brevity, for this course although I have put case diaries and case studies and field diaries as a part of module 2 which is qualitative research methods, case studies and field diaries can largely be seen as research strategies that are used both in the case of qualitative and quantitative research.Therefore, it is probably not entirely correct to identify case studies as qualitative research methods, because increasingly given the complexity of the development questions and issues that researchers are investigating, case studies are also used to gather large amounts of quantitative information through single case studies or multiple case studies, which may not necessarily be subjected to statistical tests.Nonetheless, they are quantitative in nature.Therefore, we cannot strictly distinguish case studies as a research strategy which is applied only by qualitative researchers.Mixed methods researchers and quantitative researchers are also making overwhelming use of case studies as a method.Now with this short introduction, let us see what we will cover in today's lesson.They are as follows.We will begin with what is the case study method and when to use it.What are the different types of case study research designs, stages of doing case study research, what are field diaries, how to maintain field diaries and also diaries as a research method?Many researchers would have you believe that research diaries or diary methods of enquiry are a specific research method, which is used as a strategy of following up case studies as well.Therefore, there are various perspectives on what are the categorization to follow with regard to case studies and dairy research methods.Nonetheless, for our course on development research methods where the focus is primarily on development studies and issues of development, we can look at them as a research strategy, where different methods of data collection can be applied, given the context and it may be the historical context, it may be a project context or it may be a certain institutional context that we are applying to our research studies.So, before entering into what is a case study and when to use it, let us begin with a few examples of case studies us look at some examples of case studies based on events, situations, programs and activities.And this is an example of a case study of events.This research paper focused on-campus response to a student gunman and this appeared in theJournal of Higher Education.And the description of the case followed this plan, where a detailed description of the gunman incident was given, a chronology of the first 2 weeks of events following the incidents and details about the city, the campus and the building in which the incident occurred.Findings resulting from data collection through multiple sources of information, such as interviews, observations, documents and audiovisual materials were presented.And from the data analysis, denial, fear safety, retriggering and campus planning emerged as prominent concerns.And these themes were combined into two overarching perspectives, an organizational and psychological or social-psychological response, providing layers of analysis in the study and broader interpretations of the meaning in this case.The second example of a case study could be in the form of situations.The title of this case study was given as ‘Turning points in the lives of young inner-city men foregoing destructive criminal behaviours: A qualitative study’ which appeared in SocialWork Research journal.In here in-depth interviews with the men were used to examine their life courses from the time of their earliest memories.Personal and environmental transitions that contributed to their decisions to change your uncovered.Factors affecting their transition experiences including maturation, respect and concern for children, fear of physical harm or incarceration, contemplation time and support and modelling by others were introduced.Implications for social service providers, policymakers and youth program staff, were discussed in detail in this case study.Another example is that of a case study with respect to programs.Here, the focus was on student narratives on California drug, alcohol and tobacco education programs, which appeared in Evaluation Review.Now the constant comparative method was used to analyze 40 focus group interviews of at-risk and thriving groups conducted in 11 high, middle and elementary school districts.Remember that in the last class we went into the details of focus group discussions, where focus groups and the information that is emanating from the cases followed with the help of focus group discussions or another can also be categorized as a different form of a case study.So in here, 40 focus group interviews were undertaken, and the results suggested that students use story to make sense of prevention, education and distinguish us from abuse.High school students believe that hearing only one side of the substance use or abuse story and strict expulsion policies alienated students most in need of help.And implications for the use of story as an assessment tool are discussed, as are implications for substance use prevention policy.This is an example of a case study based on activities where ‘supporting young children's IEP goals in inclusive settings through embedded learning opportunities’.The studies were conducted in 3 separate inclusive early childhood education programs located in 3 different states on 4 children with disabilities and their classroom teachers.So these are case-specific studies where cases studies have been carried out only on 4 children.The examination of a certain procedure included assessment of teachers planning and implementation, impact on child performance of specific learning objectives and the teacher’s perceptions of the preferred strategy undertaken.Data collection was done through a variety of collection techniques, including direct observation using strict protocols and interviews of teachers.And the results revealed that all teachers demonstrated increases in the use of instructional behaviours towards targeted objectives and the children showed a concomitant increase in performance of targeted objectives.So, what do all these examples say?These examples say that case studies as a method are used for various purposes depending upon the context that we are studying.And therefore, there are various methods of data collection that can be utilized for conducting a case study and therefore, it is best to look at case study as a research strategy which uses different methods of enquiry.So, in this lesson, we will first look at some of the major features and situations in which case studies are used and in the second part of this lesson, we will focus on diaries Orfield diaries and diary method as a research method of enquiry followed in development research.So, let us look at what is a case study after having been introduced to some examples of how case studies are followed.So, what is a case study?Many people actually think of case studies as clinical descriptions of people with unique characteristics or symptoms and treatments used to help them.And a case study research represents a much broader view.It actually means conducting an empirical investigation of a contemporary phenomenon within its natural context using multiple sources of evidence.Some people also use the term case study is a catch-all category for research that is not a survey an observational study or an experiment and is not statistical in nature.But it is crucial that projects are shaped so as to be sensitive to particular historical, political and cultural contexts.In-depth research taking the form of a case study can play an important role in planning and carrying out a development project, particularly in designing interventions that are tailored to suit local contexts.So, these are certain explanations as to what is a case study.Now, what are the philosophical underpinnings of the case study?Now, largely the literature on case studies that you see available in through journals or through textbooks, you would see that the focus is, the philosophical underpinning is, largely on interpreted a positivist approaches or the qualitative approaches.However, as I have made it clear at the beginning of this lesson that quantitative researchers and mixed methods researchers are also increasingly making use of case studies as an important tool of being able to gather specific quantitative information on certain cases that have very big relevance to the studies that are being undertaken.Nevertheless, scholars have pointed out that the case study research is effective and itis rooted in the theory that is an idea about why things happen as they do.And therefore, the approach to the case study is based on a constructivist paradigm.And this paradigm recognizes the importance of the subjective human creation of meaning but does not reject outrightly some notions of objectivity.And in here, pluralism and not relativism is stressed with focus on the dynamic tension of subject and object.Constructivism allows close collaboration between the researcher and the participant while enabling the participants to tell their stories.And through these stories, the participants are able to describe their views of reality and this enables the researcher to better understand the participant’s action.So, this is where the roots of case studies are coming from.Now, based upon the theoretical underpinnings of case studies and the increasing use of case studies in different contexts, we can also share some of the important characteristics of case studies.So, what do case studies really do?Case studies ask the questions of how and why about a contemporary set of events over which the investigator has little or no control.For example, if I have to take an example, I will go back to the example of complementary feeding practices.Let us say that in a certain locality or a region in a country, there are reported deaths of children because of they suffering from a certain disease.Let us say, children dying of Japanese encephalitis or children dying of malnourishment.And these are certain events that are beyond the control of the researcher and the participant, and therefore, then the question that needs to be asked is how and why such a phenomenon has occurred in the first place and these are cases that can be followed up appropriately through case study approach.Case Studies also try to cover the contextual conditions because they are relevant to the phenomenon under study.Now to the last example, to this example of children dying of a certain disease, whereas it the children are dying, how is it that children are dying, and what is the community in which children are dying, what is the region in which children are dying and are there specific social, economic, medical and environmental factors that have contributed to the death of children and this is the contextual conditions that can be taken up for case studies.The phenomenon being researched is studied in its natural context bounded by space and time.And this is something which is of large importance as far as case studies are concerned.They are richly descriptive because it is grounded in deep and varied sources of information, and it creates opportunities for the researcher to explore additional questions by the act of investigating a topic in detail.So, if we are taking up a case of malnourishment of children in a certain locality, and we see that, suppose the investigator observes that the situation of malnourishment or the event of a child being malnourished has arisen primarily not because of medical conditions, but because of certain social practices and feeding practices that are followed by the primary caregivers of these children in the certain region, then that becomes an important factor in explaining the deaths related to malnourishment in that locality.So, therefore, the case study approach creates opportunities for the researcher to explore additional questions by the act of investigating a topic in detail as in the case of malnourishment related deaths among children.Now, the question is when to use a case study approach.Now, many scholars are of the view that a case study design should be considered when the focus of the study is to answer how and why questions as I have just mentioned.Also, when we cannot manipulate the behaviour of those involved in the research process, also when we want to cover contextual conditions, because we believe they are relevant to the phenomenon under study.And also when the boundaries are not very clear between the phenomenon and the context that we are studying.As I said, the phenomenon, in this case, is that of malnourishment related deaths in the context could be that are feeding practices carried out by primary caregivers in this example and the phenomenon and the context- the boundaries are not very clear and therefore, it requires an in-depth investigation of the case studies whether through singular case studies or multiple case studies, followed by the investigator or the researcher in question here.One of the instances of when to use a case study approach is showing on your slide here.This is a study conducted on the decision making of nursing students that determines the types of decisions made by nursing students and the factors that influence decision making.The case would be the decision making of nursing students and since the case cannot be considered without the context, which would be the school of nursing and more specifically the clinical and classroom settings.This is just an example of when to use a case study approach.So, having discussed these let us look at what are the different kinds and strategies of the case study.Now, all of these different kinds and strategies of case studies can be categorized under two broad themes, singular case studies or single case strategies and multiple case strategies.We can follow individual case studies, we can have a set of individual case studies, community studies, social group studies, studies of organizations and institutions, studies of processes, events, roles and relationships.And depending upon what is the kind of study that we are trying to investigate or employ our research tools and techniques for, the research questions will also keep on changing.And in the case of individual case study, one of the examples that we can take of is, let us say we are following a certain child who has been identified as being malnourished in a certain region and there has been certain medical interventions or therapeutic interventions carried on due to the ill health of the child.And following the interventions, the child has been able to overcome some of the nutritional deficiencies and is being able to lead a good life.So, in this case, we might want to follow a single case study of this child say X and give an interpretation of how and what are the different kinds of interventions that were carried out that could help the child overcome the nutritional deficiencies.We can also follow a set of individual case studies like in the case of the example of malnourishment death that we can follow a number of case studies, let us have 4 or 5 case studies and then come up with a particular conclusion regarding what are the kinds of interventions that need to be carried out.These kinds of case studies, set of individual case studies, are also followed in the case of disability-related case studies of children suffering from learning disabilities and where particular cases are followed to understand what are the different kinds of interventions that need to be carried out for reversing the learning disabilities that have occurred in the first place.So, individual case study and set of individual case studies.Community studies in the past few classes, I have taken examples of tea garden communities and specific social practices and socio-economic conditions that are very typical of tea garden communities in the state of Assam let us say for example.So, therefore, community studies where we are considering the context of a certain community for being able to investigate a research question can form a community-level case study.Social group studies; similarly, can take the form of different kinds of social groupings that are carried out by social science researchers, let us say daily studies or feminist studies with a focus on equality or gender relationships.Women’s studies with a focus on a certain social group of bringing together women.Looking up various other marginalized groups studies let us say tribal case studies and so on can also form a part of social group studies.Studies of organizations and institutions; to make this example more relatable to the audience that is taking this course in the specific example of malnourishment related deaths, if we are trying to look at the entire gamut of health institutions that are catering to issues of malnourishment and we take up the case of the first level of health institutions that are catering immediately to the health of the children in a certain location or region could form part of studies of organizations and institutions.Similarly, we can study processes, events, roles and relationships of which we have taken examples at the beginning of this class.So, what are the stages of case study research?Like in the case of various other research designs, which we have covered in one of the earlier classes, we begin with selecting a case study research design and then we decided on the methods to be used in case study research.Now, this deciding on the methods of case study research is something which is very important because as I pointed out, the methods could be of qualitative nature, it could be of a quantitative nature, and it could be something in the middle, we could take records to both qualitative and quantitative methods of enquiry.Often diary research methods are also forwarded as a certain tool or a method of research enquiry as part of case studies.And what will be the method that should be used for the case study depends upon the research question that we are investigating.Let us say in this example of malnourishment death, we know that some of the nutrition outcomes that are generally used in the case of looking at nutritional deficiencies among children are that of stunting, wasting and underweight.So, in the case of stunting, we are basically looking at the height of children for age.In the case of wasting we are looking at the weight of children by age.And in the case of underweight, weight by height.And there are certain WHO standards- World Health Organization standards- for how do we identify if a certain group of children are found to have been stunted as in they have not reached the desired height as they should have and similarly, in the case of wasting and underweight whether desired standards are that we are calculating Z scores and determining if they are below - 2 standard deviation or - 3 standard deviation from the mean height in the reference group.So, in this case, we will actually be collecting quantitative information.In the case of nutrition outcomes or malnourishment related deaths that we are talking about, we might want to follow case studies of certain children in the age group of 6 months to 2years by focusing on what are the nutrition outcomes.So, in this case, is nutrition outcomes specifically take values that are quantitative in nature.They might not necessarily be subjected to rigorous statistical tests.Nonetheless, we are collecting quantitative information here.Similarly, if we are looking mostly at the feeding practices and the social behaviour and the social context in which these children are born, let us say we are looking at the age of the mother whether there have been underage marriage as far as the mother is concerned, what was the age at marriage, what was the age at birth.And if we are looking at certain social contexts in which the very young mothers are being subjected to then probably we will be looking up more into qualitative data gathering processes.Now, after deciding on the methods to be used in case study research, we summarize and interpret the information that we have collected from the cases, we synthesize the findings and then report findings confirming the case study findings.These are the stages that are used for case study research.Now, what are the procedures that are commonly used in case studies?Let us begin with intent, appropriate design and how intent relates to research problems are defined.This largely falls under the domain of research design.Now, in this case, the problem focuses on developing an in-depth understanding of a case or a bounded system.If the procedure is to receive approval and gain access to study sites and participants and defining of the participants, then we need approval from the institutional review board.And the research site is located using purposeful sampling procedures.For procedure related to data collected, emphasizing time in the field, multiple sources of information and collaboration, extensive information is gathered using multiple forms of data collection-observations, interviews, documents, including audiovisual materials and other relevant sources.For procedures related to data analysis and interpreting, related to the design- the data received to develop an overall understanding.And if the procedure is to prepare a research report which is suitable for dissemination and the reporting focuses on describing the case with description, analysis and interpretation addressing differently or equally.So, these are certain common procedures that need to be kept in mind, when we are moving towards a case study approach of doing research.Based on the discussions that I have just had, we can tabulate the case study characteristics and data collection questions that should be kept in mind.In the case of a bounded case, such as a process, activity, event, program or multiple individuals, what is being studied is very important.We need to define the case.For example, are we taking up a case, which focuses on learning disabilities?Are we taking up a case which focuses on malnourishment?Are we taking up a case where we are trying to identify the agro-ecological conditions for production or looking at the production systems of a certain community?So, what is the question that we are investigating will help us define the case properly?A second characteristic is that of gatekeeper provides access to information and assistance in gaining the confidence of participants.So, what are any concerns related to access and rapport, establish access and rapport?In the last few classes I have taken examples of taking permissions for reaching a certain site for conducting a case study or conducting certain research and that is of extreme importance.Whether we have established a certain rapport to be able to collect information safely and without any outside influence.Case or cases or an atypical case or a maximum variation or extreme cases define.What sites or individuals are going to be studied.So, what is the sample with purpose?Similarly, a collection of forms such as documents and records, interviews, observations of physical artifacts is compiled.So, in here the question is what type of information will be collected, we are delimiting the data.So, when you are taking up case studies as a method of enquiry, let us say we are looking at documents and records, interviews, observations of physical artifacts, what we are effectively doing is to delimit the data that we are collecting and in other words, we are emphasizing on the scope of the amount of data that we will be collecting through the help of case study approach.Now, a variety of approaches are used to gather data- example field notes, interviews and observations.So, the question is how is information compiled.And one of the methods of enquiry will be focusing on the second part of this lesson is on field notes or the diary methods of research enquiry.To the question- is data collection difficult, we are addressing field issues.Now in here, the characteristic is that concerns may emerge related to intensive data gathering.So, for example, when we are collecting in-depth information from the participants on the field, there may be concerns on the part of the participants with regard to what are we going to do with the information that is being collected from the field.And this falls in the domain of the difficulties of data collection and also instilling the faith in the minds of the participants regarding the security of the data that is being collected from them.To the question regarding how is information stored, or how do we store data for analysis, a large amount of data example field notes, transcriptions, computer databases are typically collected.So, these are some of the case study characteristics and data collection questions that need to be kept in mind.With regard to the types of case study, research design, now, there is a certain specific type of case study that is used in certain specific purposes.Let us look at some of them.So, one is an intrinsic case study; here the use is to know more about a particular individual, group, event or organization.And one of the examples of looking at intrinsic a study is a teacher exploring extracurricular activities of a poorly performing student.This is referred to as an intrinsic case study.Psychologists make use of intrinsic case studies quite a lot when dealing with cases related to learning disabilities let us say for example.We can also have instrumental case studies where the use is to better understand a theoretical question or a problem.An example of this could be to know how college students acquire technology, knowledge.This is one of the examples of the instrumental case study.The use of a collective case study is when we are addressing an issue in question will add to the literature-based that helps us better conceptualize a theory.One of the examples could be studies designed to explore one of the seven intelligence forms contained in Gardeners theory of multiple intelligence, where there is an established theory of multiple intelligence that is taken into account and case studies can be designed to explore various other forms of intelligence that can go on to add on to the already existing theories.An exploratory case study use is done when we seek to define research questions of subsequent study.Here the exploratory study of a company's ethical climate to determine how business practices normally occur.So, in that case, we refer it to as an exploratory study.Explanatory case studies seek to establish cause and effect relationships.And this is where the data gathering process focuses more on quantitative information. So, as the cause and effect relationship can be established.An example of this could be when we are identifying students home environments that affect their classroom performance.Often in the case of socio-economic studies, where we focus on children's dropout rates in different regions or locations or different schools, categorized by private schools, government schools, aided schools and so on, we see that the home environment has a big role to play in the retaining of children in the schools.And this is where case studies can be taken up in a very big way to explain the cause and effect relationship.We can also have descriptive case studies where the attempt is to present a complete description of a phenomenon within its context.An example of this could be gaining a thorough description of hospitals’ emergency room procedures when admitting incoming patients.So let us summarize and interpret the information in the form of guidelines with regard to how do we summarize the case studies.Now when we are looking at the ongoing refinement of the study's fundamental research questions in light of data obtained early in the investigation, for example, a teacher interested in factors that contribute to student attrition.Similarly constant focus on the research questions being investigated- for example a nurse exploring his hospitals’ employment practices may generate a lot of transcribed interview data and Field Notes.Collection and interpretation of potentially meaningful data- for example, a technology specialist seeking insights into her company’s software adoption policies.Developing a method for labelling, storing and gaining access to information acquired during the research, for example, create the creation of a sound information management system and also using of all available resources that can assist in the collection and interpretation of information.Now, how do we synthesize the research findings based on the case study?We can present them in the form of research questions.These are certain question that needs to be kept in mind as pointers when we are synthesizing findings based upon case studies.And understand that because of the wide diversity and variety of case studies that are used, given the context and the question that we are investigating, it will not be proper to look at these questions as sacrosanct. as these questions can keep on developing the research questions keep changing.So some of the questions that need to be kept in mind are what information from different sources goes together.Within a source what information can be grouped.So for example, we are collecting information on malnourishment from the mothers who may be primary caregivers of the children.