Basics of Developing Case Studies
(NOTE: Much of the information herein was gathered from Michael
Patton’s book, “Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods.”)
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Uses of Case
Case studies are particularly useful in depicting a holistic portrayal
of a client’s experiences and results regarding a program. For
example, to evaluate the effectiveness of a program’s processes,
including its strengths and weaknesses, evaluators might develop
cases studies on the program’s successes and failures. Case studies
are used to organize a wide range of information about a case
and then analyze the contents by seeking patterns and themes in
the data, and by further analysis through cross comparison with
other cases. A case can be individuals, programs, or any unit,
depending on what the program evaluators want to examine through
in-depth analysis and comparison.
1. All data about the case is gathered.
if the study is to highlight a program’s failure with a client,
data would be collected about the program, its processes and the
client. Data could result from a combination of methods, including
documentation (applications, histories, records, etc.), questionnaires,
interviews and observation.
2. Data is organized into an approach to highlight the focus
of the study.
In our example, data in the case would be
organized in a chronological order to portray how the client got
into the program, went through the program and did not receive
3. A case study narrative is developed.
is a highly readable story that integrates and summarizes key
information around the focus of the case study. The narrative
should be complete to the extent that it is the eyes and ears
for an outside reader to understand what happened regarding the
case. In our example, the narrative might include key demographic
information about the client, phases in the program’s process
through which the client passed and any major differences noticed
about that client during the process, early indicators of failures
and key quotes from the client.
4. The narrative might be validated by review from program
For example, the client for whom the program
failed, would read the narrative to ensure it fully depicted his
or her experience and results.
5. Case studies might be cross-compared to isolate any themes
For example, various case studies about program
failures might be compared to notice commonalities in these clients’
experiences and how they went through the program. These commonalities
might highlight where in the program the process needs to be strengthened.
For the Category of Evaluations (Many Kinds):
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