Case study and case records: a conversation
about the Hathaway Project
SUSAN GROUNDWATER SMITH AND ROB WALKER
‘Hathaway’ Primary School exemplifies the complexities of change. Located in a migrant neighbourhood in Sydney and designed to be ‘open’ in classroom organization and in relation to the community, the school daily copes with policy changes from above and social change at the door. The ‘Hathaway Project’ was initiated by Susan Groundwater Smith more than a decade ago in an attempt to create a case record of the school to be used in teacher education programmes. In its latest version this record is in the form of a CD-ROM which Rob Walker and Ron Lewis have developed for use in a distance education programme (Deakin University 1999). Our concern with ‘images of change’ is therefore both metaphorical and literal, since the case record includes visual, audio and print material. Further, our aim is not to create images of change, but to provide teachers, and others, with the resources to create and explore their own images.
The conjunction of ‘educational change’ and ‘case study methods’ is not accidental. In education, case study methods were developed in parallel with projects which attempted to implement curriculum and organizational change. The notion of ‘case study’ is central to contemporary developments in action research, evaluation, curriculum development and policy studies. In the methodological literature, it is often taken to be a pantechnicon term, of the same order as ‘qualitative research’, and loosely associated with an array of cognate terms: ‘illuminative’ and ‘responsive’ evaluation, ‘participant research’, ‘educational ethnography’, ‘naturalistic research’ and so on. But to use these terms interchangeably is to misread significant subtleties to be found in shifts and shades of meaning. Our purpose in this chapter is not to be definitive but to explore issues that have been masked by construing differences