Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Single-Case Research
Richard F. Ittenbach William F. Lawhead Educational Psychology Program and Department of Philosophy and Religion The University of Mississippi
Scientific research consists of a vast number of contributions throughout history. Each contribution to the broader fabric of science represents a blend of personalities and perspectives over time. Additionally, many individuals and movements are responsible for the principles and practices of what have now come to be known as research design. Two factors stand out as particularly important in the evolution of the design and analysis of all types of research: better methods for controlling the performance of variables of interest and improved mathematical modelling of behavioral phenomena. Yet, large-group research designs, designs for which most developments and issues have emanated, actually originated in the study of the individual.
Single-subject research, a subcategory of social science research, may well be the point of origin for all scientific research. As early as 2500 BC, politicians and mercantilists struggled with the notion of dividing human labor based on people's skills and abilities. More recently, single- subject research, in union with new developments in statistical methodology and computer technology, has been used to better understand the patterns of individuals' behaviors well beyond what was thought possible only a few decades ago.
The purpose of the present chapter is to lay the foundation for a more complete discussion of research designs in general and single-subject research designs in particular by tracing the evolution of scientific