According to Yin (1989), analysis of case study data can be a holistic analysis of the entire case or an embedded analysis of a specific aspect of the case. This dissertation case study will be an embedded analysis, specifically looking at students acquisition of human rights knowledge and its implications for their lives. Due to the limitation of this study, the researcher was not able to look at teachers, parents, school administrators, and other possible aspects of School X’s HRE implementation.
According to Sturman (1999), case study analysis requires “an in-depth investigation of the interdependencies of parts and of the patterns that emerge to understand a case, to explain why things happen as they do, and to generalize or predict from a single example” (p. 103). Case study analysis goes beyond simply describing or understanding the case.
Kaplan (1964) (cited in Sturman, 1999) has distinguished describing/understanding from explanation. Describing/understanding means to see (to observe/to grasp the meaning of, according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary), and explanation is to explain (to give the reason for or cause of, according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). Research can reach an explanation by understanding or seeing the pattern of relationships between the many diverse factors that are embedded. This may be why Sturman (1999) believes that case study analysis goes beyond describing/understanding.
In addition to the patterns that emerge, a rich description of and an understanding of a case, based on the relationship of the pattern, will arrive at an explanation of what information the researched case could provide to researchers and readers. In a case study, both, understanding and explanation, are important before the readers can generalize and reach their own conclusions about the case at the end (Sturman, 1999).
The researcher first introduces Etic/Emic issues, then talks about pattern of information for in-depth investigation of interdependencies, direct interpretation/categorical aggregation, prediction and generalization in case study, naturalistic generalization, and theory development through case study. These explanations of important concepts in analysis will be followed by how data analysis was done for this case study.
Etic and Emic Issues
When research is conducted, researchers need to be aware of their own biases, perceptions, and other pre-existing issues that can affect the research findings (Stake, 1995). These are called etic issues in research. In case study research, it is not easy to avoid all etic issues. Therefore, in describing the research methodology and analysis, the researcher informs the reader of possible issues and factors. Emic issues evolve in the process of the research (Stake, 1995). These originate from the informants who are participating and providing the information for the study. This addresses one of the criticisms of case study; because of lack of rigor in the collection, construction, and analysis of the empirical materials that are the basis for case study, a case study may have a problem of bias, through the subjectivity of the researcher and of informants (Hamel, Dufour and Fortin, 1993).
In a sense, a case study results in relating the emic to the etic issues (Stake, 1995). As the researchers gain an understanding of the case, they frame the issues as statements. The more repetition there is in what the researchers observe or hear from the informants, the stronger the statements can be. Using multiple methods to gather information contributes to more rigorous data collection and analysis of the empirical materials in order to reduce the subjectivity of the researcher. From these statements, natural generalizations are made to relate issues from this case to other similar situations for the researchers and the readers.
Pattern of information
Search for meaning, in a case study, means looking “for patterns, for consistency, for consistency within certain conditions, [such as] correspondence” (Stake, 1995, p.78). Identifying patterns in the information gathered from multiple sources is one way to understand the case. “The case[s]… are seen as unique as well as common” (p. 44). To understand a case’s uniqueness requires an understanding of other cases, activities, and events as well. In this study, the researcher used previous case studies of HRE and literature cited in the previous chapter to uncover HRE issues common across cases. In this way, researchers and readers can relate one case to another due to commonalities (Stake, 1995). Uniqueness and commonality of the case will merge from the patterns of information in a qualitative study. When the patterns are established, they help the researchers and the readers to understand the case better.
Direct Interpretation/Categorical Aggregation
To discover what informants meant, there are two strategic ways. The first is direct interpretation of the individual instance and the second is through the aggregation of instances until something can be said about them (Stake, 1995). In case study, both methods are needed. The use of these analytic strategies will be determined by the nature of the study, the focus of the research questions, and the curiosities of the researcher.
The qualitative case study researcher looks for the emergence of meaning in the single instance (Stake, 1995). Stake seeks meaning of certain observations by watching closely as well as thinking about it deeply. Alternatively, the qualitative information is pulled apart and put back together again more meaningfully by the researcher. “This is an analysis and a synthesis in direct interpretation. The quantitative researcher seeks a collection of instances, expecting that, from the aggregate, issue-relevant meanings will emerge” (Stake, 1995, p.75).
The primary task of intrinsic case studies is “to come to understand the case” (Stake, 1995, p. 77) in all its complexity. With case study research, the time for examining its complexity is short. Within this short time period, case study strategies help the researchers “to tease out relationships, to prove issues, and aggregate categorical data, but those ends are subordinate to understanding the case” (p. 77). The researchers usually spend most of their time on direct interpretation rather than the categorical data and measurements often used in instrumental case studies.
Prediction and Generalization in Case Study
Diesing (1972) states that because deducing an unknown part of a pattern from a known part is impossible, explanation in case study does not equal prediction, unlike the deductive model (cited in Sturman, 1999). Case study rather develops naturalistic generalizations (Sturdam, 1999). It is essential to document the salient features of a case in order to make naturalistic generalizations. Through this generalization, the researchers and the readers can apply what they learn from previous cases to a new case.
According to Stake (1995), case studies are analyzed to make the case understandable to the researchers and the readers. Naturalistic generalizations are “conclusions arrived at through personal engagement in life’s affairs or by vicarious experience so well constructed that the person feels as if it happened to themselves” (p. 85). Therefore, it is important that naturalistic generalization be embedded in the experience of the reader. This addresses one of the criticisms of case study; due to lack of evidence that a case study is representative, a case study cannot achieve generalization (Hamel, Dufour and Fortin, 1993).
To assist the readers in making naturalistic generalizations, case researchers need to provide as great a variety as possible of events and issues related to the readers’ experiences. Case study write-ups “need to be personal, describing the things of our sensory experiences, not failing to attend to the matter that personal curiosity dictates” (Stake, 1995, p.86). Hence, case studies need to include details of cases, such as time, place and persons involved. A description of the case emerges through such detailed information, analysis of themes or issues, and interpretation or assertions about the case (Stake, 1995).
The researcher’s job is to stimulate readers’ reflection upon the research, to optimize readers’ opportunity for learning as if they were experiencing the case, and to organize the study to maximize the opportunity for naturalistic generalization by the reader (Stake, 1995). In other words, the case study relies on informants’ and readers’ experience for readers to make naturalistic generalizations and get something out of the study. Case study has this characteristic in common with historiography, philosophy, literature, and music, which rely on readers and audiences sharing experiences with the researchers or artists.
Theory Development Through Case Study
Based on Stake’s case study definition (1998), case studies in the qualitative inquiry domain are characterized by “strong naturalistic, holistic, cultural, phenomenological interests” (p. 86) from which can come a detailed description and understanding of a case. Because the researchers doing case studies need to be open to new ideas that may challenge existing propositions, case studies “provide not only the means by which existing conjectures and theories can be tested, but also the capacity to develop new theoretical position[s]” (Sturman, 1999, p. 105).
Hamel, Dufour and Fortin (1993) say that “all theories are initially based on a particular case or object” (p. 29). The in-depth case study will bring out one or more theories that could be validated. The validation process would evaluate the theories’ applicability to other cases and could be lead to alteration of the theory/ies. Hamel, Dufour and Fortin call this a change or modification due to a historical rather than a logical approach (1993).
Data Analysis for This Case Study
Data analysis was done through three procedures. For direct interpretation, the researcher looked at a single person’s interview, survey and questionnaire, and drew meaning or interpretation from it without looking for multiple instances. This procedure gave the researcher an understanding of what kinds of experience individual students had with HRE. Direct interpretation helped the researcher to move on to the next step, i.e. categorical aggregation.
Through categorical aggregation, the researcher looked at a collection of information from all sources, within the same data collection method, i.e. interview, survey, and questionnaire. The researcher categorized the issue-relevant meanings that emerged from information itself. It was meaningful for the researcher to find out the effects of HRE on the students as a group in different time periods. The researcher was able to find out immediate and long-term effects of HRE.
With pattern analysis, the researcher developed the relationships between the categories, which were done through categorical aggregation. The researcher was able to compare categorical patterns among different information sources; i.e. interview, survey, and questionnaire. The researcher also compared her findings and the previous case studies which was provided in Chapter 2; Wade’s (1994) “Conceptual Change in Elementary Social Studies: Case Study of Fourth Graders’ Understanding of Human Rights” and Brabeck, et. al. (1998) “Human Rights Education Through the Facing History and Ourselves Program.” In this way, the researcher and the readers can relate one case to another (Stake, 1995), and it will help to provide better understand of the case study.
Through the last type of analysis --- naturalistic generalization --- people can learn from the case either simply for their understanding of the case or by applying it to their own cases.