What is a case study ?
A case study is a description of a real life problem or situation which requires you to analyse the main issues involved. These issues need to be discussed and related to the academic literature and/or research findings on the topic and conclusions then drawn about why the situation occurred and how best to respond to it.
Why do we write case study responses?
A case study is a way to apply the theoretical knowledge gained from the academic literature to real life situations that you may encounter in your work.
Writing a case study response enables you to
- analyse the issues in a real life situation,
- apply the knowledge gained from your academic reading and research and
- draw conclusions about how to respond as a professional to that situation.
How to write a case study response
Before you start writing, you need to carefully read the case study and make a note of the main issues and problems involved as well as the main stakeholders (persons or groups of persons who have an interest in the case).
A case study response would include the following elements:
Introduce the main purpose of the case study and briefly outline the overall problem to be solved.
Write a brief description of the case under discussion giving an outline of the main issues involved. Always assume that your reader knows nothing of the assignment task and provide enough information to give a context for your discussion of the issues.
Discuss the issues raised one by one, using information gained from your research of the academic literature.
Your discussion may include:
- an outline of the issue and its implications for or relationship to different stakeholders
- how that issue links to theories or research in the academic literature
- suggested solutions or ideas
- evaluation of the solutions or ideas for this particular case
Conclusion / Recommendations
Finally, sum up the conclusions that you have come to and give recommendations to resolve the case. Give reasons for your recommendations.
Checklist for a case study response
- Carefully read the case and noted the main issues and stakeholders in the case?
- Written a brief description of the case to give your readers a context for the main issues?
- Discussed each issue with reference to the academic literature?
- Evaluated the solutions or ideas for each issue to find the ones most suitable?
- Made final recommendations of how to resolve the case?
- Used a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
- Cited and referenced all of the work by other people?
- Used correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, clear presentation and appropriate reference style?
Monash University – How to write the case study
University of New South Wales – Writing a Case Study Report in Engineering
A recent review has highlighted that the methodology most commonly employed to research social learning has been the individual case study. We draw on four examples of social learning research in the environmental and sustainability sciences from sub-Saharan Africa to reflect on possible reasons behind the preponderance of case study research in this field, and to identify common elements that may be significant for social learning research more generally. We find that a common interest in change oriented social learning, and therefore processes of change, makes case studies a necessary approach because long term process analyses are required that are sensitive to social-ecological contexts. Common elements of the examples reflected upon included: a focus on initiating, tracking and/or understanding a process of change toward sustainability; long term research; an action research agenda that involves reflecting on data with research participants; and temporal, process based analysis of data coupled with in-depth theoretical analysis. This paper highlights that there is significant scope for exploratory research that compares case studies of social learning research to generate a deeper understanding of social learning processes, and their relationship to human agency and societal change.