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How to use a case study in your masters dissertation

Prof martyn denscombe, author of “ the good research guide, 6th edition ”, gives expert advice on how to use a case study in your masters dissertation. .

There are two main examples for how to use a case study in your masters dissertation, namely quantitative and qualitative case studies.

First, a case study provides a platform that allows you to study a situation in depth and produce the level of academic inquiry that is expected in a master’s degree. In the context of any master’s programme the dissertation operates as something of a showcase for a student’s abilities.

It can easily make the difference between getting a merit and a distinction in the final award of degree. It is important, therefore, to base the work on an approach that allows things to be explored in sufficient depth and detail to warrant a good grade.

Second, case studies can be useful in a practical sense. It is possible to complete a case study in a relatively short period of intense study and so it is the kind of research that is feasible in terms of the kind of time constraints that face master’s students as they enter the final stages of their programme of study.

Added to which a case study can also be a rather convenient form of research, avoiding the time and costs of travel to multiple research sites. The use of case studies, then, would appear to be an attractive proposition. But it is not an approach that should be used naively without consideration of its limitations or potential pitfalls.

To be a good case study the research needs to consider certain key issues. If they are not addressed it will considerably lower the value of the master’s degree. For instance, a good case study needs to:

  • Be crystal clear about the purpose for which the research is being conducted
  • Justify the selection of the particular case being studied
  • Describe how the chosen case compares with others of its type
  • Explain the basis on which any generalizations can be made from the findings

This is where The Good Research Guide, 6th edition becomes so valuable. It not only identifies the key points that need to be addressed in order to conduct a competent questionnaire survey.

It gets right to the heart of the matter with plenty of practical guidance on how to deal with issues. Using plain language, this bestselling book covers a range of alternative strategies and methods for conducting small-scale social research projects. It outlines some of the main ways in which the data can be analysed.

Read Prof Martyn Denscombe’s advice on using a questionnaire survey for your postgraduate dissertation

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a case study be a thesis.

Yes, in fact a case study is a very good option in your dissertation. There are multiple ways to implement a case study in your thesis. For instance, one main study which is in depth and complex or you could feature multiple case studies.

What are case studies?

Case studies are a way to research a particular field, group, people and situation. The topic of research is studied deeply and thoroughly in order to solve a problem or uncover information. Case studies are a type of qualitative research.

If you are ready to find a masters course check out Masters Compare.

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How to Write a Case Study | Examples & Methods

example of a case study dissertation

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that provides an in-depth examination of a particular phenomenon, event, organization, or individual. It involves analyzing and interpreting data to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject under investigation. 

Case studies can be used in various disciplines, including business, social sciences, medicine ( clinical case report ), engineering, and education. The aim of a case study is to provide an in-depth exploration of a specific subject, often with the goal of generating new insights into the phenomena being studied.

When to write a case study

Case studies are often written to present the findings of an empirical investigation or to illustrate a particular point or theory. They are useful when researchers want to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific phenomenon or when they are interested in exploring new areas of inquiry. 

Case studies are also useful when the subject of the research is rare or when the research question is complex and requires an in-depth examination. A case study can be a good fit for a thesis or dissertation as well.

Case study examples

Below are some examples of case studies with their research questions:

These examples demonstrate the diversity of research questions and case studies that can be explored. From studying small businesses in Ghana to the ethical issues in supply chains, case studies can be used to explore a wide range of phenomena.

Outlying cases vs. representative cases

An outlying case stud y refers to a case that is unusual or deviates significantly from the norm. An example of an outlying case study could be a small, family-run bed and breakfast that was able to survive and even thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, while other larger hotels struggled to stay afloat.

On the other hand, a representative case study refers to a case that is typical of the phenomenon being studied. An example of a representative case study could be a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations that faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reduced demand for hotel rooms, increased safety and health protocols, and supply chain disruptions. The hotel chain case could be representative of the broader hospitality industry during the pandemic, and thus provides an insight into the typical challenges that businesses in the industry faced.

Steps for Writing a Case Study

As with any academic paper, writing a case study requires careful preparation and research before a single word of the document is ever written. Follow these basic steps to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial details when composing your case study.

Step 1: Select a case to analyze

After you have developed your statement of the problem and research question , the first step in writing a case study is to select a case that is representative of the phenomenon being investigated or that provides an outlier. For example, if a researcher wants to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, they could select a representative case, such as a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations, or an outlying case, such as a small bed and breakfast that was able to pivot their business model to survive during the pandemic. Selecting the appropriate case is critical in ensuring the research question is adequately explored.

Step 2: Create a theoretical framework

Theoretical frameworks are used to guide the analysis and interpretation of data in a case study. The framework should provide a clear explanation of the key concepts, variables, and relationships that are relevant to the research question. The theoretical framework can be drawn from existing literature, or the researcher can develop their own framework based on the data collected. The theoretical framework should be developed early in the research process to guide the data collection and analysis.

To give your case analysis a strong theoretical grounding, be sure to include a literature review of references and sources relating to your topic and develop a clear theoretical framework. Your case study does not simply stand on its own but interacts with other studies related to your topic. Your case study can do one of the following: 

  • Demonstrate a theory by showing how it explains the case being investigated
  • Broaden a theory by identifying additional concepts and ideas that can be incorporated to strengthen it
  • Confront a theory via an outlier case that does not conform to established conclusions or assumptions

Step 3: Collect data for your case study

Data collection can involve a variety of research methods , including interviews, surveys, observations, and document analyses, and it can include both primary and secondary sources . It is essential to ensure that the data collected is relevant to the research question and that it is collected in a systematic and ethical manner. Data collection methods should be chosen based on the research question and the availability of data. It is essential to plan data collection carefully to ensure that the data collected is of high quality

Step 4: Describe the case and analyze the details

The final step is to describe the case in detail and analyze the data collected. This involves identifying patterns and themes that emerge from the data and drawing conclusions that are relevant to the research question. It is essential to ensure that the analysis is supported by the data and that any limitations or alternative explanations are acknowledged.

The manner in which you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard academic paper, with separate sections or chapters for the methods section , results section , and discussion section , while others are structured more like a standalone literature review.

Regardless of the topic you choose to pursue, writing a case study requires a systematic and rigorous approach to data collection and analysis. By following the steps outlined above and using examples from existing literature, researchers can create a comprehensive and insightful case study that contributes to the understanding of a particular phenomenon.

Preparing Your Case Study for Publication

After completing the draft of your case study, be sure to revise and edit your work for any mistakes, including grammatical errors , punctuation errors , spelling mistakes, and awkward sentence structure . Ensure that your case study is well-structured and that your arguments are well-supported with language that follows the conventions of academic writing .  To ensure your work is polished for style and free of errors, get English editing services from Wordvice, including our paper editing services and manuscript editing services . Let our academic subject experts enhance the style and flow of your academic work so you can submit your case study with confidence.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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Can Dissertation be a Case Study: Research Example and Format

Can Dissertation be a Case Study: Research Example and Format

write Case study as dissertation

write Case study as dissertation

Also known as a thesis, a dissertation usually comes at the end of a degree course. Unlike essays and other standard research papers, a dissertation is a large project that requires a deeper depth of research.

The research can take up to the final six months of your degree course. The significance of this type of research is to test the ability of a student to do independent research. A student comes up with his or her own idea, does a thorough research then structures the content to make a final research paper.

example of a case study dissertation

In essence, this stage of your degree course teaches you how to manage your time and sharpen your individual working skills.

A student usually works with the department supervisor to make dissertation writing easier. The supervisor can help in planning the writing of the dissertation. The purpose of the supervisor is to provide guidance, feedback and advice as you progress from stage one of writing to the end.

Can Dissertation be a Case Study?

example of a case study

There are very few instances when a dissertation is used as a case study because of the differences.

If you opt to use your dissertation as a case study, ensure that you do not focus on providing solution to the problem.

If it is an already written dissertation, it requires a lot of editing. In a dissertation, you provide the solution to a problem, but in case studies, only analysis of events is enough to complete the project.

How to Incorporate Case Study into Your Dissertation

A good qualitative case study can form the perfect basis of your dissertation and save you a lot of time.

To start with, a case study gives you the avenue to deeply analyze a situation. Precisely so, it will be easier for you to exhibit the academic survey level that your degree requires.

A good case study can be used in your dissertation in a practical sense.

In the final stages of your degree, time constraints are tight and a case study will take you a relatively short period to complete unlike a dissertation. Therefore, it is an appropriate form of research that saves time taken to navigate multiple research sites.

However, to incorporate a case study into your dissertation, pay attention to the potential drawbacks and limitations involved.

To avoid lowering the value and quality of your research, the following are some of the considerations to observe when selecting a proper case study for your dissertation:

a) The case study ought to be clear and in uniformity with the research purpose .

b) The particular case you choose, should be justified.

c) There has to be a clear explanation concerning the basis of the overviews made from your research results.

d) The case study should have a comparison between the chosen cases and others .

To date, there are many students who use case studies as an obvious option for research projects. 

All in all, be careful how you implement the study into your research as many professors may view dissertation as one that lacks rigor and consistency. Despite this skepticism, case studies can offer more exhaustive insights that an ordinary research cannot achieve.

How to Write Case Study Only as Your Dissertation

A case study and a dissertation share a lot of similarities but they are not the same.

writing a case study

In case studies, there is a full introduction of a topic. But, the opinion of the writer and other similar works do not need citation. Equally, a dissertation requires the citing of a writer’s view as well as that of other similar works. 

A student who is about to graduate is supposed to know instances when case studies can be used as dissertation and when they cannot.

If you are worried about writing a great dissertation that will excite your lecturer, you can opt for the case study method.

Here are important steps to follow in writing a case study only as your dissertation:

  • Start by defining the particular question you are going to address in the paper. It will be easier if you create specific questions that will answer the main parts of the situation. Develop your focus of research to get all the information about the topic.
  • Design the process of the case study. Come up with a clear roadmap of the selected real life cases and ensure you know the reason why you have chosen them. Also, do not forget to enlighten more information about the research methods you intend to adopt for the purposes of data collection and analysis.
  • A case study written only as a dissertation needs a huge amount of data. Needless to say, a writer should develop a clear plan for data collection.
  • With your plan ready, proceed to the field and collect data. At this stage, do not make any interpretation of results until the research process is complete.
  • Having done that, present the data by reporting in a flowing manner.  Use a simple language for readers to understand your interpretations effortlessly.

Formatting the Case Study        

Following the right format guarantees a good case study paper that you can use to impress the professor as a dissertation. 

Start with an introduction or an exclusive summary so as to inform the reader about the findings and analysis of the case study.

a case study format

Secondly, provide background information by writing clear facts and pinpointing the topic issues to your audience.

The next part is to embark on the methods and findings.

This is a discussion that entails verdicts of the case you have chosen and should be divided into separate sections for easier understanding. 

Afterwards, come to the section where you will provide the recommendations and how to implement them. Here, a writer should discuss the solution chosen, give clear reasons why it is the right one and how to put it into practice.

Good solutions usually focus on realistic means of improving the situation or solving it.

You can give evidence as a backup for the solutions you have proposed.  The final part is to write a conclusion that summarizes all the important points from the evaluations and solutions of the case study.

3 Examples of Case Study Topics to Write as Dissertations

To arrive at a good case topic idea, hunt for the ultimate topic that inspires you. From the possible list of selection you have, narrow down to topics that reflect the main idea you want.

After arriving at the topic of choice, select the right methodology for researching. Below are good topics you can select for your case study:

1. Why start-up businesses are on a steady rise.

2. Research study case on patients with Omicron corona virus and the latest nursing methods for the virus.

3. Case study on the rise and rise of Tiktok.

Regardless of the course you have selected or your academic objectives, a college student needs a good case study. The quality of this study will depend on the topic you select.

Therefore, if you select a topic correctly, your ideas will be well organized and you can use available research methodologies to write an interesting case study.

There are different categories of ideas you can base your study on depending on the subject you want. You can focus on titles ranging from information technology to psychology, education and environmental science.

There are also good topic ideas you can derive from applied physics, marketing, management, human right case studies or even nursing.

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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  • Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on 5 May 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 30 January 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organisation, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating, and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyse the case.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

Unlike quantitative or experimental research, a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

If you find yourself aiming to simultaneously investigate and solve an issue, consider conducting action research . As its name suggests, action research conducts research and takes action at the same time, and is highly iterative and flexible. 

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience, or phenomenon.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews, observations, and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data .

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis, with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results , and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyse its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

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Qualitative Research Designs

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The field of qualitative research there are a number of research designs (also referred to as “traditions” or “genres”), including case study, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, action research, ethnography, grounded theory, as well as a number of critical genres including Feminist theory, indigenous research, critical race theory and cultural studies. The choice of research design is directly tied to and must be aligned with your research problem and purpose. As Bloomberg & Volpe (2019) explain:

Choice of research design is directly tied to research problem and purpose. As the researcher, you actively create the link among problem, purpose, and design through a process of reflecting on problem and purpose, focusing on researchable questions, and considering how to best address these questions. Thinking along these lines affords a research study methodological congruence (p. 38).

Case study is an in-depth exploration from multiple perspectives of a bounded social phenomenon, be this a social system such as a program, event, institution, organization, or community (Stake, 1995, 2005; Yin, 2018). Case study is employed across disciplines, including education, health care, social work, sociology, and organizational studies. The purpose is to generate understanding and deep insights to inform professional practice, policy development, and community or social action (Bloomberg 2018).

Yin (2018) and Stake (1995, 2005), two of the key proponents of case study methodology, use different terms to describe case studies. Yin categorizes case studies as exploratory or descriptive . The former is used to explore those situations in which the intervention being evaluated has no clear single set of outcomes. The latter is used to describe an intervention or phenomenon and the real-life context in which it occurred. Stake identifies case studies as intrinsic or instrumental , and he proposes that a primary distinction in designing case studies is between single and multiple (or collective) case study designs. A single case study may be an instrumental case study (research focuses on an issue or concern in one bounded case) or an intrinsic case study (the focus is on the case itself because the case presents a unique situation). A longitudinal case study design is chosen when the researcher seeks to examine the same single case at two or more different points in time or to capture trends over time. A multiple case study design is used when a researcher seeks to determine the prevalence or frequency of a particular phenomenon. This approach is useful when cases are used for purposes of a cross-case analysis in order to compare, contrast, and synthesize perspectives regarding the same issue. The focus is on the analysis of diverse cases to determine how these confirm the findings within or between cases, or call the findings into question.

Case study affords significant interaction with research participants, providing an in-depth picture of the phenomenon (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2019). Research is extensive, drawing on multiple methods of data collection, and involves multiple data sources. Triangulation is critical in attempting to obtain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon under study and adds rigor, breadth, and depth to the study and provides corroborative evidence of the data obtained. Analysis of data can be holistic or embedded—that is, dealing with the whole or parts of the case (Yin, 2018). With multiple cases the typical analytic strategy is to provide detailed description of themes within each case (within-case analysis), followed by thematic analysis across cases (cross-case analysis), providing insights regarding how individual cases are comparable along important dimensions. Research culminates in the production of a detailed description of a setting and its participants, accompanied by an analysis of the data for themes or patterns (Stake, 1995, 2005; Yin, 2018). In addition to thick, rich description, the researcher’s interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations contribute to the reader’s overall understanding of the case study.

Analysis of findings should show that the researcher has attended to all the data, should address the most significant aspects of the case, and should demonstrate familiarity with the prevailing thinking and discourse about the topic. The goal of case study design (as with all qualitative designs) is not generalizability but rather transferability —that is, how (if at all) and in what ways understanding and knowledge can be applied in similar contexts and settings. The qualitative researcher attempts to address the issue of transferability by way of thick, rich description that will provide the basis for a case or cases to have relevance and potential application across a broader context.

Qualitative research methods ask the questions of "what" and "how" a phenomenon is understood in a real-life context (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2019). In the education field, qualitative research methods uncover educational experiences and practices because qualitative research allows the researcher to reveal new knowledge and understanding. Moreover, qualitative descriptive case studies describe, analyze and interpret events that explain the reasoning behind specific phenomena (Bloomberg, 2018). As such, case study design can be the foundation for a rigorous study within the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE).

Case study design is an appropriate research design to consider when conceptualizing and conducting a dissertation research study that is based on an applied problem of practice with inherent real-life educational implications. Case study researchers study current, real-life cases that are in progress so that they can gather accurate information that is current. This fits well with the ADE program, as students are typically exploring a problem of practice. Because of the flexibility of the methods used, a descriptive design provides the researcher with the opportunity to choose data collection methods that are best suited to a practice-based research purpose, and can include individual interviews, focus groups, observation, surveys, and critical incident questionnaires. Methods are triangulated to contribute to the study’s trustworthiness. In selecting the set of data collection methods, it is important that the researcher carefully consider the alignment between research questions and the type of data that is needed to address these. Each data source is one piece of the “puzzle,” that contributes to the researcher’s holistic understanding of a phenomenon. The various strands of data are woven together holistically to promote a deeper understanding of the case and its application to an educationally-based problem of practice.

Research studies within the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE) will be practical in nature and focus on problems and issues that inform educational practice.  Many of the types of studies that fall within the ADE framework are exploratory, and align with case study design. Case study design fits very well with applied problems related to educational practice, as the following set of examples illustrate:

Elementary Bilingual Education Teachers’ Self-Efficacy in Teaching English Language Learners: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed in the proposed study is that some elementary bilingual education teachers’ beliefs about their lack of preparedness to teach the English language may negatively impact the language proficiency skills of Hispanic ELLs (Ernst-Slavit & Wenger, 2016; Fuchs et al., 2018; Hoque, 2016). The purpose of the proposed qualitative descriptive case study was to explore the perspectives and experiences of elementary bilingual education teachers regarding their perceived lack of preparedness to teach the English language and how this may impact the language proficiency of Hispanic ELLs.

Exploring Minority Teachers Experiences Pertaining to their Value in Education: A Single Case Study of Teachers in New York City

The problem is that minority K-12 teachers are underrepresented in the United States, with research indicating that school leaders and teachers in schools that are populated mainly by black students, staffed mostly by white teachers who may be unprepared to deal with biases and stereotypes that are ingrained in schools (Egalite, Kisida, & Winters, 2015; Milligan & Howley, 2015). The purpose of this qualitative exploratory single case study was to develop a clearer understanding of minority teachers’ experiences concerning the under-representation of minority K-12 teachers in urban school districts in the United States since there are so few of them.

Exploring the Impact of an Urban Teacher Residency Program on Teachers’ Cultural Intelligence: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed by this case study is that teacher candidates often report being unprepared and ill-equipped to effectively educate culturally diverse students (Skepple, 2015; Beutel, 2018). The purpose of this study was to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of the perceived impact of an urban teacher residency program in urban Iowa on teachers’ cultural competence using the cultural intelligence (CQ) framework (Earley & Ang, 2003).

Qualitative Case Study that Explores Self-Efficacy and Mentorship on Women in Academic Administrative Leadership Roles

The problem was that female school-level administrators might be less likely to experience mentorship, thereby potentially decreasing their self-efficacy (Bing & Smith, 2019; Brown, 2020; Grant, 2021). The purpose of this case study was to determine to what extent female school-level administrators in the United States who had a mentor have a sense of self-efficacy and to examine the relationship between mentorship and self-efficacy.

Suburban Teacher and Administrator Perceptions of Culturally Responsive Teaching to Promote Connectedness in Students of Color: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed in this study is the racial discrimination experienced by students of color in suburban schools and the resulting negative school experience (Jara & Bloomsbury, 2020; Jones, 2019; Kohli et al., 2017; Wandix-White, 2020). The purpose of this case study is to explore how culturally responsive practices can counteract systemic racism and discrimination in suburban schools thereby meeting the needs of students of color by creating positive learning experiences. 

As you can see, all of these studies were well suited to qualitative case study design. In each of these studies, the applied research problem and research purpose were clearly grounded in educational practice as well as directly aligned with qualitative case study methodology. In the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE), you will be focused on addressing or resolving an educationally relevant research problem of practice. As such, your case study, with clear boundaries, will be one that centers on a real-life authentic problem in your field of practice that you believe is in need of resolution or improvement, and that the outcome thereof will be educationally valuable.

Bloomberg, L. D. (2018). Case study method. In B. B. Frey (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of educational research, measurement, and evaluation (pp. 237–239). SAGE. https://go.openathens.net/redirector/nu.edu?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmethods.sagepub.com%2FReference%2Fthe-sage-encyclopedia-of-educational-research-measurement-and-evaluation%2Fi4294.xml

Bloomberg, L. D. & Volpe, M. (2019). Completing your qualitative dissertation: A road map from beginning to end . (4th Ed.). SAGE.

Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. SAGE.

Stake, R. E. (2005). Qualitative case studies. In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 443–466). SAGE.

Yin, R. (2018). Case study research and applications: Designs and methods. SAGE.

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Managing school behavior: a qualitative case study

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The purposes of this dissertation research were to understand the methods by which building-level school administrators collect office discipline referral data, and to understand the ways they make decisions based on that data. In order to achieve this overall objective, the following research questions framed this study:

1. To what extent do administrators have access to behavior data that inform their decisions on how to improve student success in school and society?

2. To what extent do administrators use behavior data to improve student success in school and in society?

3. What do administrators perceive it would take to enhance the effectiveness of their current efforts to improve students' success in school and society?

One mid-sized suburban school district from the Midwest was selected for this case study research. Eleven school building administrators were interviewed to provide insight into the research questions. Participants in the study self-selected pseudonyms to preserve anonymity. Interviews were conducted face to face, and then transcribed.

The themes that emerged from the interviews include: (1) participants' perceptions of and experiences with collecting and analyzing student behavior data, (2) participants' perceptions of and experiences with using behavior data to improve student success in school and in society, and (3) participants' perceptions of necessary steps to take to enhance the effectiveness of their current efforts to improve students' success in school and society. The findings from this study describe practices used for collecting student attendance data, office referral data, and suspension and expulsion data. Building-level school leaders recognize that data collection and analysis of building- and school district-level conduct and/or behavior data would help them establish patterns of behavior for individual students, as well as students throughout the building. The aim for school administrators should be to use research-based strategies, practices, and programs that have proven successful when they plan interventions and programmatic changes for students.

Based on its findings, this study recommends that further investigation into data collection processes that lead to improved behavioral outcomes for students be conducted. Consistent data collection, supported by a systemic procedure to analyze that data, is paramount to increase the effectiveness of any behavior support program. As schools continue to face challenges associated with providing adequate behavioral supports for students, building capacity with teaching and administrative staff is recommended, so that a continuum of behavioral supports could be provided to meet the diverse behavioral needs of buildings, schools, and districts.

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example of a case study dissertation

All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study

example of a case study dissertation

What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.

What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?

While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.

Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.

The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.

Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:

Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.

Types of Case Studies

The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:

Types of Case Studies

  • Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
  • Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
  • Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
  • Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
  • Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.

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Case Study Format

The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:

  • Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
  • Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
  • Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
  • Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
  • Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
  • References. Provide all the citations.

How to Write a Case Study

Let's discover how to write a case study.

How to Write a Case Study

Setting Up the Research

When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:

  • Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
  • Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
  • Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
  • Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
  • Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.

Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'

Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:

  • Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
  • Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
  • Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
  • Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
  • Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

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Case Study Outline

Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.

Introduction

  • Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
  • Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
  • Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
  • Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
  • Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
  • Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
  • Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
  • Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
  • Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
  • Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
  • Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.

Writing a Case Study Draft

After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:

How to Write a Case Study

  • Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
  • In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
  • Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
  • Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
  • At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study

Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :

‍ With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.

Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.

Finalizing the Draft: Checklist

After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:

  • Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
  • Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
  • Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
  • Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?

Problems to avoid:

  • Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
  • Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
  • Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.

How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study

Let's see how to create an awesome title page.

Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:

  • A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
  • The title should have the words “case study” in it
  • The title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.

Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:

There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.

Citation Example in MLA ‍ Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA ‍ Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.

Case Study Examples

To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.

Eastman Kodak Case Study

Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany

To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .

Get Help Form Qualified Writers

Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Table of contents

Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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Dissertation examples

Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written. Refer to your module guidelines to make sure that you address all of the current assessment criteria. Some of the examples below are only available to access on campus.

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IMAGES

  1. 49 Free Case Study Templates ( + Case Study Format Examples + )

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  2. 49 Free Case Study Templates ( + Case Study Format Examples + )

    example of a case study dissertation

  3. How to write the conclusion of your case study

    example of a case study dissertation

  4. 31+ Case Study Samples

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  5. 49 Free Case Study Templates ( + Case Study Format Examples + )

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  6. Sample Case Studies Used In Research

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VIDEO

  1. Research Paper Methodology

  2. Thesis Statements Mini Lecture

  3. Writing A Research Paper: Discussion

  4. Research Design

  5. 3 EASY Ways To Structure Your Literature Review

  6. Case Study Research

COMMENTS

  1. What Is a Case Study?

    Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

  2. Case study dissertation

    First, a case study provides a platform that allows you to study a situation in depth and produce the level of academic inquiry that is expected in a master's degree. In the context of any master's programme the dissertation operates as something of a showcase for a student's abilities. It can easily make the difference between getting a ...

  3. A Qualitative Case Study of Students' Perceptions of Their Experiences

    outcomes. The objective of this qualitative case study was to capture students' perceptions of their experiences and the processes that facilitated the outcomes or the quality of student learning. This study sought to inform the practice of developing engaging, instructional course design focused on student success and learning. The

  4. A Case Study of Student and Teacher Relationships and The Effect on

    This research study explored the affective domain of teacher-student relationships using a single case study design. This single case study produced a synthesis of information that guides a classroom teacher in the development and maintenance of her relationships with her students. The resulting analysis and interpretation provided a

  5. Case Study Methodology of Qualitative Research: Key Attributes and

    This article attempts to look into the various dimensions of a case study research strategy, the different epistemological strands which determine the particular case study type and approach adopted in the field, discusses the factors which can enhance the effectiveness of a case study research, and the debate surrounding the role of a case stud...

  6. PDF A Sample Qualitative Dissertation Proposal

    A Sample Qualitative Dissertation Proposal Prepared by Alejandro Morales NOTE: This proposal is included in the ancillary materials of Research Designwith permission of the author. LANGUAGE BROKERING IN MEXICAN IMMIGRANT FAMILIES LIVING IN THE MIDWEST: A MULTIPLE CASE STUDY by Alejandro Morales A DISSERTATION PROPOSAL

  7. How to use a case study in your masters dissertation

    There are two main examples for how to use a case study in your masters dissertation, namely quantitative and qualitative case studies. First, a case study provides a platform that allows you to study a situation in depth and produce the level of academic inquiry that is expected in a master's degree.

  8. How to Write a Case Study

    An example of a representative case study could be a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations that faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reduced demand for hotel rooms, increased safety and health protocols, and supply chain disruptions.

  9. Writing a Case Study

    For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future.

  10. PDF A Complete Dissertation

    Chapter 1 Objectives Provide a cursory glance at the constitution of an entire dissertation. Offer a comprehensive outline of all key elements for each section of the dissertation—that is, precursor of what is to come, with each element being more fully developed and explained further along in the book.

  11. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  12. Can Dissertation be a Case Study: Research Example and Format

    Published by Josh Jasen at May 12, 2022 Also known as a thesis, a dissertation usually comes at the end of a degree course. Unlike essays and other standard research papers, a dissertation is a large project that requires a deeper depth of research. The research can take up to the final six months of your degree course.

  13. Case Study

    Example: Outlying case study In the 1960s, the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

  14. (PDF) Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study Design and

    master's thesis, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON. Baxter, P. (2003). ... a more efficient and easy-to-understand reorganization of the case study examples, and updated citations throughout the ...

  15. LibGuides: Section 2: Case Study Design in an Applied Doctorate

    Case study is an in-depth exploration from multiple perspectives of a bounded social phenomenon, be this a social system such as a program, event, institution, organization, or community (Stake, 1995, 2005; Yin, 2018). Case study is employed across disciplines, including education, health care, social work, sociology, and organizational studies.

  16. PDF Dissertation a Multiple Case Study of Instructors Utilizing Classroom

    time. Emerging themes were identified using a multiple case study methodology. All instructors said their use of CRS evolved and changed from initial adoption to their current use of the technology today. Student engagement was the single ubiquitous reason provided for choosing to employ CRS. Other potential reason for using CRS include: peer

  17. PDF "It's Not Pixie Dust": An Exploratory Qualitative Case Study of a

    An Exploratory Qualitative Case Study of a School-Based Multimodal Tablet Initiative by Erin E. Margarella A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Teaching and Learning College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Danielle V. Dennis, Ph.D.

  18. Managing school behavior: a qualitative case study

    The purposes of this dissertation research were to understand the methods by which building-level school administrators collect office discipline referral data, and to understand the ways they make decisions based on that data. In order to achieve this overall objective, the following research questions framed this study: 1. To what extent do administrators have access to behavior data that ...

  19. Writing a Case Study Analysis

    Proposed Solution/Changes Provide specific and realistic solution (s) or changes needed. Explain why this solution was chosen. Support this solution with solid evidence, such as: Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures) Outside research Personal experience (anecdotes) Recommendations

  20. How to Write a Case Study: from Outline to Examples

    For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance.

  21. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Faculty: History Author: Julien Saint Reiman Award: 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title: "A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man": UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947 University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith

  22. Dissertation examples

    Academic skills Dissertation examples Dissertation examples Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools.

  23. PDF Chapter 3: Method (Exploratory Case Study)

    Design Questions answered When used Example Case Study How, why, What Exploring a phenom-enon in context, using one or more data collection methods. Describing in depth a case or cases. ... In your dissertation template, write your introduction section, addressing each of the following points: • Restate the purpose statement.