Case Study Research in Educational Settings

By Michael Bassey | Go to book overview

1 Why educational case study
should be reconstructed

The aim of this book is ambitious: it is to reconstruct the concept of educational case study as a prime strategy for developing educational theory which illuminates educational policy and enhances educational practice. I set out to do this by identifying and focusing on a particular form of educational case study, which I am calling 'theory-seeking and theory-testing case study'. This I see as contributing to theory through 'fuzzy' generalizations. In addition, I conceive of other categories of educational case study: story-telling and picture-drawing case study, and evaluative case study. Figure 1.1 gives an overview of empirical educational research and tries to put the four major types of such enquiry - case studies, experiments, surveys and action researches - into perspective.

Properly the reader must ask, from what experience and on what authority is such a project launched? Three strands of my experience are described below which may make clear why such a venture is desirable. First is an account of my experience as an external examiner of dissertations and theses; second is an account of two overviews of research in the public domain in the UK gained through involvement in the universities' Research Assessment Exercises; third is an overview of some of my own writing on the problem of generalization over nearly twenty years. The only authority that I claim is in the extent to which my peers in the educational research community will judge the ideas worthwhile and choose to adopt them.

In order to establish straight away what a theory-seeking case study can look like, Chapter 2 provides an example. It is adapted from a research paper by Chris Holligan, which originally was published in the British Educational Research Journal, and is reconstructed here with his kind permission.

Chapter 3 gives an account of what others have said about case study and Chapter 4 locates educational case study on the map of research in education. This is followed by an account of how research could be disseminated through 'fuzzy' generalization and professional discourse in Chapter 5. Having read that far, I hope the reader will understand why I have felt it

-3-

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