Definitions: A case study is …

• an empirical method aimed at investigating contemporary phenomena in their context. • a detailed investigation of a ‘bounded system’—single individual or group (a community, an institution, an individual, an activity or an event) to provide an in-depth understanding of the case(s). • a study of a particular case or set of cases which may rely on quantitative or qualitative data (or both) but usually involves some field-based data and aims to describes or explains the events of the case(s). • a research strategy that aims to understand social phenomena within a single or small number of naturally occurring settings. The purpose may be to provide description through a detailed example or to generate or test particular theories. • an investigation strives to portray ‘what it is like’ to be in a particular situation, to catch the close up reality and ‘thick description’ of participants’ lived experiences of, thoughts about and feelings for a situation.

Distinctive Features
• Aims to gain a detailed rich and vivid description of events involved within a setting. • Provides a chronological narrative of events relevant to the case. • Blends a description of events with the analysis of them. • Focuses on individual actors or groups of actors and seeks to understand their perceptions of events. • Uses multiple techniques of data collection, including interviews, observations, field notes, documentary methods, audio or video recording. • Data collection typically continues over prolonged periods.

TYPES
• Descriptive Case Study: attempts to provide a full portrayal of the case or cases being studied. It is used to (1) explore subjects about which little is previously known or phenomena in need of an interpretation that sheds new light on known data, and their descriptive aspect is invaluable. In a descriptive case study, events and situations are allowed to speak for themselves, rather than to be largely interpreted, evaluated or judged by the researcher. Thus, this case study is akin to the TV documentary.
• Interpretive Case Study: uses theoretical frameworks to provide an explanation of particular cases, which can lead as well to an evaluation and refinement of theories. • Theory-evaluating Case Study: used to assess whether existing theories account for the processes and outcomes of selected cases.

Some Classical Examples
• Hakuta (1976) studied the acquisition of English of Uguisu, the 5-year old daughter of a visiting scholar from Japan. Data were collected for a period of 60 weeks, after Uguisu had 5 months of exposure to English. The study reports that four grammatical features are not having been acquired: 3 rd persons, irregular past, regular past and plurals.

Warchauer & Kern (1998) studied the use of CMC (computer-mediated Communication) in second language acquisition.
Wegerif (1998) studied the similarities and differences between face to face interaction and CMC and issues of motivation and autonomy in online learning.

Current Examples (1)
Mu & Carrington (2007) investigated writing strategies of three Chinese post-graduate students in an Australian higher education institution. The study was prompted by the paucity of second language writing strategies of Chinese students in an authentic context. Data were collected from a semi-structured interview, questionnaire, retrospective post-writing discussion, and analysis on written drafts of papers. The findings indicate that the three participants employed rhetorical strategies, metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies and social/affective strategies in their writing practice. This study supports the theory second language writing process is strategically, rhetorically, linguistically different from first language (L1) writing process. Data demonstrated that metacognitive, cognitive, and social/affective strategies except rhetorical strategies (organization of paragraphs) transferred across languages positively.
“An Investigation of Three Chinese Students' English Writing Strategies” Published in TESL-EJ vol. 11, no. 1, June 2007

Current Examples (2)
Soproni (2008) investigates language teachers’ perception on their personal development through the eye of seven experienced language learners who have learnt or English and other languages for several years and/or have had or had very many teachers of languages. Data were collected through unstructured interviews. Findings indicate that to develop, language teachers need life-long learning and should adapt to student needs. According to experienced language learners, teacher education appears to be good enough for entry into the profession but new motivation and impetus are necessary for someone to remain a language teacher.

“The Way Language Teachers Learn: Professional Development Through the Eyes of Experienced Language Learners”. Published in Practice and Theory in Systems of Education, Volume 3 Number 2 2008

Five Major Steps of Conducting a Case Study
1. Designing and planning the case study • determining the objective—what to achieve? • determining the case—what is studied? • studying theory—frame of reference • formulating research questions—what to know? • Selecting the site and/or unit of analysis—from what whom the data will be obtained? 2. Determining the methods of data collection Try to use not less than the four types of triangulation (data-source triangulation—using more than one data source or collecting the same data at different occasions; observer triangulation—using more than one observer in the study; methodological triangulation— combining different types of data collection methods; or theory triangulation—using alternative theories or viewpoints.

3. Collecting evidence 4. Analyzing data Qualitative data analysis methods are commonly used. 5. Reporting Use Pseudonyms

Proposal Outline
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION A. Background to the Study B. Reason for Choosing the Topic C. Statement of the Problem D. The site and/or unit of analysis General profiles E. Objectives of the Study F. Research Questions G. Significance of the Study H. Scope of the Study I. Definition of Terms

Proposal Outline
CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE A. Previous Studies B. Theoretical Background CHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY A. Research Method B. Data and Data Collection Procedure C. Research Population and Sample D. Research Setting E. Data Analysis Techniques

SOME SAMPLE TOPICS FOR CASE STUDIES
• How three good Indonesian English teachers develop their professional skills • An investigation on the causes of a particular learner’s unwillingness to participate in group work in a junior high school • An evaluation of the use of short story to develop the students’ English vocabulary in grade 10 of a senior high school • Using problem-solving technique to develop students’ speaking skills in a senior high school

References
Burns. A. (2010). Doing action research in english language teaching: A guide for practitioners. New York: Routledge: Creswell, J. W. 2008. Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: Pearson Denscombe, M. (2010). The good research guide for small-scale social research projects. New York: McGraw-Hill Gillham, B. (2000). Case Study Research Methods. London: Continuum Gerring. J. 2007. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres Gillham, B. (2000). Case Study Research Methods. London: Continuum Gerring. J. 2007. Case study research: Principles and practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres Goddard, W & Melville, S. (2006). Research methodology: An introduction. Lansdowne: Juta & Co, Ltd. McKay, S. L. (2006). Researching second language classrooms. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers Mu & Carrington. (2007). “An Investigation of Three Chinese Students' English Writing Strategies”. Retrieved on December 8, 2010 from: http://tesl-ej.org/ej41/a1.html Ross, Kenneth N. (ed.). (2005). Educational research: Some basic concepts and terminology. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning/ UNESCO. Soproni, Z. (2008). “The Way Language Teachers Learn: Professional Development through the Eyes of Experienced Language Learners”. Retrieved on October 12, 2010 from: http://www.eduscience.hu/index06.html

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