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  • Identifying a Theoretical Perspective
    linguistic data collecting techniques to assess the student s knowledge of appropriate discourse conventions Using the pseudonym Nate to refer to the subject the study sought to illuminate the particular experience rather than to generalize about the experience of fledgling academic writers collectively For example in Berkenkotter Huckin and Ackerman s 1988 study we are told that the researchers are interested in disciplinary communities In the first paragraph they ask what constitutes membership in a disciplinary community and how achieving membership might affect a writer s understanding and production of texts In the third paragraph they state that researchers must negotiate their claims within the context of his sub specialty s accepted knowledge and methodology In the next paragraph they ask How is literacy acquired What is the process through which novices gain community membership And what factors either aid or hinder students learning the requisite linguistic behaviors This introductory section ends with a paragraph in which the study s authors claim that during the course of the study the subject Nate successfully makes the transition from skilled novice to become an initiated member of the academic discourse community and that his texts exhibit linguistic changes which indicate this transition In the next section the authors make explicit the sociolinguistic theoretical and methodological assumptions on which the study is based 1988 Thus the reader has a good understanding of the authors theoretical background and purpose in conducting the study even before it is explicitly stated on the fourth page of the study Our purpose was to examine the effects of the educational context on one graduate student s production of texts as he wrote in different courses and for different faculty members over the academic year 1984 85 The goal of the study then was to explore the idea that

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1291&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Designing a Case Study
    the different sub categories of case study and identifying a theoretical perspective researchers can begin to design their study Research design is the string of logic that ultimately links the data to be collected and the conclusions to be drawn to the initial questions of the study Typically research designs deal with at least four problems What questions to study What data are relevant What data to collect How to analyze that data In other words a research design is basically a blueprint for getting from the beginning to the end of a study The beginning is an initial set of questions to be answered and the end is some set of conclusions about those questions Because case studies are conducted on topics as diverse as Anglo Saxon Literature Thrane 1986 and AIDS prevention Van Vugt 1994 it is virtually impossible to outline any strict or universal method or design for conducting the case study However Robert K Yin 1993 does offer five basic components of a research design A study s questions A study s propositions if any A study s units of analysis The logic linking of the data to the propositions The criteria for interpreting the findings

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1292&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Conducting Case Studies
    Multi modal Participant Selection Data Collection Data Analysis Composing the Case Study Report Issues of Validity and Reliability Commentary on Case Studies Annotated Bibliography Related Links Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Case Studies Conducting Case Studies To obtain as complete a picture of the participant as possible case study researchers can employ a variety of approaches and methods These approaches methods and related issues are discussed

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1293&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Method: Single or Multi-modal?
    Data Collection Data Analysis Composing the Case Study Report Issues of Validity and Reliability Commentary on Case Studies Annotated Bibliography Related Links Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Case Studies Method Single or Multi modal To obtain as complete a picture of the participant as possible case study researchers can employ a variety of methods Some common methods include interviews protocol analyses field studies and participant observations Emig 1971 chose to use several methods of data collection Her sources included conversations with the students protocol analysis discrete observations of actual composition writing samples from each student and school records Lauer and Asher 1988 Berkenkotter Huckin and Ackerman 1988 collected data by observing classrooms conducting faculty and student interviews collecting self reports from the subject and by looking at the subject s written work A study that was criticized for using a single method model was done by Flower and Hayes 1984 In this study that explores the ways in which writers use different forms of knowing to create space the authors used only protocol analysis to gather data The study came under heavy fire because of their decision to use only one method and it was at

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  • Participant Selection
    Guide Contributors Citation Case Studies Participant Selection Case studies can use one participant or a small group of participants However it is important that the participant pool remain relatively small The participants can represent a diverse cross section of society but this isn t necessary For example the Berkenkotter Huckin and Ackerman 1988 study looked at just one participant Nate By contrast in Janet Emig s 1971 study of the composition process of twelfth graders eight participants were selected representing a diverse cross section of the community with volunteers from an all white upper middle class suburban school an all black inner city school a racially mixed lower middle class school an economically and racially mixed school and a university school Often a brief case history is done on the participants of the study in order to provide researchers with a clearer understanding of their participants as well as some insight as to how their own personal histories might affect the outcome of the study For instance in Emig s study the investigator had access to the school records of five of the participants and to standardized test scores for the remaining three Also made available to the researcher was

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1295&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Data Collection
    study they may choose to collect data from one or any combination of these sources Protocols that is transcriptions of participants talking aloud about what they are doing as they do it have been particularly common in composition case studies For example in Emig s 1971 study the students were asked in four different sessions to give oral autobiographies of their writing experiences and to compose aloud three themes in the presence of a tape recorder and the investigator In some studies only one method of data collection is conducted For example the Flower and Hayes 1981 report on the cognitive process theory of writing depends on protocol analysis alone However using multiple sources of evidence to increase the reliability and validity of the data can be advantageous Case studies are likely to be much more convincing and accurate if they are based on several different sources of information following a corroborating mode This conclusion is echoed among many composition researchers For example in her study of predrafting processes of high and low apprehensive writers Cynthia Selfe 1985 argues that because methods of indirect observation provide only an incomplete reflection of the complex set of processes involved in composing a combination of several such methods should be used to gather data in any one study Thus in this study Selfe collected her data from protocols observations of students role playing their writing processes audio taped interviews with the students and videotaped observations of the students in the process of composing It can be said then that cross checking data from multiple sources can help provide a multidimensional profile of composing activities in a particular setting Sharan Merriam 1985 suggests checking verifying testing probing and confirming collected data as you go arguing that this process will follow in a funnel like

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1296&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Data Analysis
    collected researchers strive to make sense of their data Generally researchers interpret their data in one of two ways holistically or through coding Holistic analysis does not attempt to break the evidence into parts but rather to draw conclusions based on the text as a whole Flower and Hayes 1981 for example make inferences from entire sections of their students protocols rather than searching through the transcripts to look for isolatable characteristics However composition researchers commonly interpret their data by coding that is by systematically searching data to identify and or categorize specific observable actions or characteristics These observable actions then become the key variables in the study Sharan Merriam 1988 suggests seven analytic frameworks for the organization and presentation of data The role of participants The network analysis of formal and informal exchanges among groups Historical Thematical Resources Ritual and symbolism Critical incidents that challenge or reinforce fundamental beliefs practices and values There are two purposes of these frameworks to look for patterns among the data and to look for patterns that give meaning to the case study As stated above while most researchers begin their case studies expecting to look for particular observable characteristics it is not unusual for key variables to emerge during data collection Typical variables coded in case studies of writers include pauses writers make in the production of a text the use of specific linguistic units such as nouns or verbs and writing processes planning drafting revising and editing In the Berkenkotter Huckin and Ackerman 1988 study for example researchers coded the participant s texts for use of connectives discourse demonstratives average sentence length off register words use of the first person pronoun and the ratio of definite articles to indefinite articles Since coding is inherently subjective more than one coder is usually employed

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1297&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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  • Composing the Case Study Report
    plot exposition characters and sometimes even dialogue Boehrer 1990 Generally case study reports are extensively descriptive with the most problematic issue often referred to as being the determination of the right combination of description and analysis 1990 Typically authors address each step of the research process and attempt to give the reader as much context as possible for the decisions made in the research design and for the conclusions drawn This contextualization usually includes a detailed explanation of the researchers theoretical positions of how those theories drove the inquiry or led to the guiding research questions of the participants backgrounds of the processes of data collection of the training and limitations of the coders along with a strong attempt to make connections between the data and the conclusions evident Although the Berkenkotter Huckin and Ackerman 1988 study does not case study reports often include the reactions of the participants to the study or to the researchers conclusions Because case studies tend to be exploratory most end with implications for further study Here researchers may identify significant variables that emerged during the research and suggest studies related to these or the authors may suggest further general questions that their case study generated For example Emig s 1971 study concludes with a section dedicated solely to the topic of implications for further research in which she suggests several means by which this particular study could have been improved as well as questions and ideas raised by this study which other researchers might like to address such as is there a correlation between a certain personality and a certain composing process profile e g is there a positive correlation between ego strength and persistence in revising Also included in Emig s study is a section dedicated to implications for teaching which outlines the

    Original URL path: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=1298&guideid=60 (2015-10-15)
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