Gathering Information from Observations
A frequent piece of information in case study research is observations of the resevestigation her organization’s software adoption procedures may ask to observe arch setting by the researcher. Unlike interviews, which rely on people’s sometimes biased perceptions and recollections of events, observations of the setting by a case study researcher may provide more objective information related to research topics. However, conducting meaningful observations requires skill and persistence.
The researcher should consider five factors when conducting observations. The most important factor is for the researcher to identify must be observed in order to shed on possible answers to the research questions. For example, an administrator interested in the effects of scheduling may keep track of the number and kind of discipline referrals that occur before and after using the approach in several schools. A teacher who wants to identify factors that influence student attrition may decide to observe students’ behavior and achievement in classrooms in which teachers implement different instructional strategies. A nurse interested in his hospitals’ employment practices may want to watch the human resource officer interview several candidates for various hospital positions. A technology specialist investigating her organization’s software adoption procedures may ask to observe meetings of corporate administrators during which judgments are made about computer software capabilities.
Second, similar to the interview guide, a case study researcher should create an observation guide-a list of features to be addressed during a particular observation. This list often includes
Once all information is gathered, synthesized, and reported a case study researcher should confirm the findings of the study before disseminating a final report. Several strategies exist through which to confirm one’s findings. A case study researcher should implement as many of these strategies as is possible.
Perhaps the most powerful strategy to confirm a report’s findings is to share the results with those examined in the study. This activity extends the intent of the researcher’s ethical obligation to debrief participants in the study. The goal of gaining feedback from those studied is to gather their perceptions of the plausibility of the findings based on the information that the participants themselves provided.
Another strategy involves review of the report by fellow case study researchers who are familiar with the goals and procedures of case study research. These colleagues should systematically and thoroughly critique the study’s procedures and findings in order to identify discrepancies that may threaten the credibility of the research effort.
A related strategy is to solicit scrutiny of the final report from experts on the topic under investigation. For example, a teacher exploring student attrition at her school may ask fellow teachers outside the setting of the case study to analyze her report for accuracy, clarity, meaningfulness.
A fourth strategy involves the researcher’s articulation of personal biases brought to the situation and how he or she attempted to mitigate the potential effects of those biases. Acknowledgment of one’s biases combined with an explanation of how the researcher prevented those biases from influencing the research process and finding lessens the likelihood that the researcher will be accused of producing contrived findings.
A fifth strategy for confirming results is to demonstrate how findings are based on information acquired from multiple sources, sometimes called triangulation. Findings based on evidence attended from interviews observations and documents are more convincing than those based on evidence from only one or two of these information sources. Similarly like most researchers those doing case study research typically relate their findings to the work of others.
Case study researchers verify and confirm their findings before offering them for widespread dissemination review and reaction.They accomplish this by sharing the outcomes of their work with participants with their colleagues or with experts on the topic that was studied. They also disclose their personal biases regarding the topic and delimit how they controlled them when conducting the investigation.They use multiple methods to identify their findings. Like researchers reporting findings from studies that used other methodologies, case study researchers generally relate their findings to the work of others as another method of confirming and building confidence in what was discovered as a result of study.