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10 Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages

10 Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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case study advantages and disadvantages, explained below

A case study in academic research is a detailed and in-depth examination of a specific instance or event, generally conducted through a qualitative approach to data.

The most common case study definition that I come across is is Robert K. Yin’s (2003, p. 13) quote provided below:

“An empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.”

Researchers conduct case studies for a number of reasons, such as to explore complex phenomena within their real-life context, to look at a particularly interesting instance of a situation, or to dig deeper into something of interest identified in a wider-scale project.

While case studies render extremely interesting data, they have many limitations and are not suitable for all studies. One key limitation is that a case study’s findings are not usually generalizable to broader populations because one instance cannot be used to infer trends across populations.

Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages

1. in-depth analysis of complex phenomena.

Case study design allows researchers to delve deeply into intricate issues and situations.

By focusing on a specific instance or event, researchers can uncover nuanced details and layers of understanding that might be missed with other research methods, especially large-scale survey studies.

As Lee and Saunders (2017) argue,

“It allows that particular event to be studies in detail so that its unique qualities may be identified.”

This depth of analysis can provide rich insights into the underlying factors and dynamics of the studied phenomenon.

2. Holistic Understanding

Building on the above point, case studies can help us to understand a topic holistically and from multiple angles.

This means the researcher isn’t restricted to just examining a topic by using a pre-determined set of questions, as with questionnaires. Instead, researchers can use qualitative methods to delve into the many different angles, perspectives, and contextual factors related to the case study.

We can turn to Lee and Saunders (2017) again, who notes that case study researchers “develop a deep, holistic understanding of a particular phenomenon” with the intent of deeply understanding the phenomenon.

3. Examination of rare and Unusual Phenomena

We need to use case study methods when we stumble upon “rare and unusual” (Lee & Saunders, 2017) phenomena that would tend to be seen as mere outliers in population studies.

Take, for example, a child genius. A population study of all children of that child’s age would merely see this child as an outlier in the dataset, and this child may even be removed in order to predict overall trends.

So, to truly come to an understanding of this child and get insights into the environmental conditions that led to this child’s remarkable cognitive development, we need to do an in-depth study of this child specifically – so, we’d use a case study.

4. Helps Reveal the Experiences of Marginalzied Groups

Just as rare and unsual cases can be overlooked in population studies, so too can the experiences, beliefs, and perspectives of marginalized groups.

As Lee and Saunders (2017) argue, “case studies are also extremely useful in helping the expression of the voices of people whose interests are often ignored.”

Take, for example, the experiences of minority populations as they navigate healthcare systems. This was for many years a “hidden” phenomenon, not examined by researchers. It took case study designs to truly reveal this phenomenon, which helped to raise practitioners’ awareness of the importance of cultural sensitivity in medicine.

5. Ideal in Situations where Researchers cannot Control the Variables

Experimental designs – where a study takes place in a lab or controlled environment – are excellent for determining cause and effect . But not all studies can take place in controlled environments (Tetnowski, 2015).

When we’re out in the field doing observational studies or similar fieldwork, we don’t have the freedom to isolate dependent and independent variables. We need to use alternate methods.

Case studies are ideal in such situations.

A case study design will allow researchers to deeply immerse themselves in a setting (potentially combining it with methods such as ethnography or researcher observation) in order to see how phenomena take place in real-life settings.

6. Supports the generation of new theories or hypotheses

While large-scale quantitative studies such as cross-sectional designs and population surveys are excellent at testing theories and hypotheses on a large scale, they need a hypothesis to start off with!

This is where case studies – in the form of grounded research – come in. Often, a case study doesn’t start with a hypothesis. Instead, it ends with a hypothesis based upon the findings within a singular setting.

The deep analysis allows for hypotheses to emerge, which can then be taken to larger-scale studies in order to conduct further, more generalizable, testing of the hypothesis or theory.

7. Reveals the Unexpected

When a largescale quantitative research project has a clear hypothesis that it will test, it often becomes very rigid and has tunnel-vision on just exploring the hypothesis.

Of course, a structured scientific examination of the effects of specific interventions targeted at specific variables is extermely valuable.

But narrowly-focused studies often fail to shine a spotlight on unexpected and emergent data. Here, case studies come in very useful. Oftentimes, researchers set their eyes on a phenomenon and, when examining it closely with case studies, identify data and come to conclusions that are unprecedented, unforeseen, and outright surprising.

As Lars Meier (2009, p. 975) marvels, “where else can we become a part of foreign social worlds and have the chance to become aware of the unexpected?”

Disadvantages

1. not usually generalizable.

Case studies are not generalizable because they tend not to look at a broad enough corpus of data to be able to infer that there is a trend across a population.

As Yang (2022) argues, “by definition, case studies can make no claims to be typical.”

Case studies focus on one specific instance of a phenomenon. They explore the context, nuances, and situational factors that have come to bear on the case study. This is really useful for bringing to light important, new, and surprising information, as I’ve already covered.

But , it’s not often useful for generating data that has validity beyond the specific case study being examined.

2. Subjectivity in interpretation

Case studies usually (but not always) use qualitative data which helps to get deep into a topic and explain it in human terms, finding insights unattainable by quantitative data.

But qualitative data in case studies relies heavily on researcher interpretation. While researchers can be trained and work hard to focus on minimizing subjectivity (through methods like triangulation), it often emerges – some might argue it’s innevitable in qualitative studies.

So, a criticism of case studies could be that they’re more prone to subjectivity – and researchers need to take strides to address this in their studies.

3. Difficulty in replicating results

Case study research is often non-replicable because the study takes place in complex real-world settings where variables are not controlled.

So, when returning to a setting to re-do or attempt to replicate a study, we often find that the variables have changed to such an extent that replication is difficult. Furthermore, new researchers (with new subjective eyes) may catch things that the other readers overlooked.

Replication is even harder when researchers attempt to replicate a case study design in a new setting or with different participants.

Comprehension Quiz for Students

Question 1: What benefit do case studies offer when exploring the experiences of marginalized groups?

a) They provide generalizable data. b) They help express the voices of often-ignored individuals. c) They control all variables for the study. d) They always start with a clear hypothesis.

Question 2: Why might case studies be considered ideal for situations where researchers cannot control all variables?

a) They provide a structured scientific examination. b) They allow for generalizability across populations. c) They focus on one specific instance of a phenomenon. d) They allow for deep immersion in real-life settings.

Question 3: What is a primary disadvantage of case studies in terms of data applicability?

a) They always focus on the unexpected. b) They are not usually generalizable. c) They support the generation of new theories. d) They provide a holistic understanding.

Question 4: Why might case studies be considered more prone to subjectivity?

a) They always use quantitative data. b) They heavily rely on researcher interpretation, especially with qualitative data. c) They are always replicable. d) They look at a broad corpus of data.

Question 5: In what situations are experimental designs, such as those conducted in labs, most valuable?

a) When there’s a need to study rare and unusual phenomena. b) When a holistic understanding is required. c) When determining cause-and-effect relationships. d) When the study focuses on marginalized groups.

Question 6: Why is replication challenging in case study research?

a) Because they always use qualitative data. b) Because they tend to focus on a broad corpus of data. c) Due to the changing variables in complex real-world settings. d) Because they always start with a hypothesis.

Lee, B., & Saunders, M. N. K. (2017). Conducting Case Study Research for Business and Management Students. SAGE Publications.

Meir, L. (2009). Feasting on the Benefits of Case Study Research. In Mills, A. J., Wiebe, E., & Durepos, G. (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Case Study Research (Vol. 2). London: SAGE Publications.

Tetnowski, J. (2015). Qualitative case study research design.  Perspectives on fluency and fluency disorders ,  25 (1), 39-45. ( Source )

Yang, S. L. (2022). The War on Corruption in China: Local Reform and Innovation . Taylor & Francis.

Yin, R. (2003). Case Study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Chris

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Case Study Method – 18 Advantages and Disadvantages

The case study method uses investigatory research as a way to collect data about specific demographics. This approach can apply to individuals, businesses, groups, or events. Each participant receives an equal amount of participation, offering information for collection that can then find new insights into specific trends, ideas, of hypotheses.

Interviews and research observation are the two standard methods of data collection used when following the case study method.

Researchers initially developed the case study method to develop and support hypotheses in clinical medicine. The benefits found in these efforts led the approach to transition to other industries, allowing for the examination of results through proposed decisions, processes, or outcomes. Its unique approach to information makes it possible for others to glean specific points of wisdom that encourage growth.

Several case study method advantages and disadvantages can appear when researchers take this approach.

List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method

1. It requires an intensive study of a specific unit. Researchers must document verifiable data from direct observations when using the case study method. This work offers information about the input processes that go into the hypothesis under consideration. A casual approach to data-gathering work is not effective if a definitive outcome is desired. Each behavior, choice, or comment is a critical component that can verify or dispute the ideas being considered.

Intensive programs can require a significant amount of work for researchers, but it can also promote an improvement in the data collected. That means a hypothesis can receive immediate verification in some situations.

2. No sampling is required when following the case study method. This research method studies social units in their entire perspective instead of pulling individual data points out to analyze them. That means there is no sampling work required when using the case study method. The hypothesis under consideration receives support because it works to turn opinions into facts, verifying or denying the proposals that outside observers can use in the future.

Although researchers might pay attention to specific incidents or outcomes based on generalized behaviors or ideas, the study itself won’t sample those situations. It takes a look at the “bigger vision” instead.

3. This method offers a continuous analysis of the facts. The case study method will look at the facts continuously for the social group being studied by researchers. That means there aren’t interruptions in the process that could limit the validity of the data being collected through this work. This advantage reduces the need to use assumptions when drawing conclusions from the information, adding validity to the outcome of the study over time. That means the outcome becomes relevant to both sides of the equation as it can prove specific suppositions or invalidate a hypothesis under consideration.

This advantage can lead to inefficiencies because of the amount of data being studied by researchers. It is up to the individuals involved in the process to sort out what is useful and meaningful and what is not.

4. It is a useful approach to take when formulating a hypothesis. Researchers will use the case study method advantages to verify a hypothesis under consideration. It is not unusual for the collected data to lead people toward the formulation of new ideas after completing this work. This process encourages further study because it allows concepts to evolve as people do in social or physical environments. That means a complete data set can be gathered based on the skills of the researcher and the honesty of the individuals involved in the study itself.

Although this approach won’t develop a societal-level evaluation of a hypothesis, it can look at how specific groups will react in various circumstances. That information can lead to a better decision-making process in the future for everyone involved.

5. It provides an increase in knowledge. The case study method provides everyone with analytical power to increase knowledge. This advantage is possible because it uses a variety of methodologies to collect information while evaluating a hypothesis. Researchers prefer to use direct observation and interviews to complete their work, but it can also advantage through the use of questionnaires. Participants might need to fill out a journal or diary about their experiences that can be used to study behaviors or choices.

Some researchers incorporate memory tests and experimental tasks to determine how social groups will interact or respond in specific situations. All of this data then works to verify the possibilities that a hypothesis proposes.

6. The case study method allows for comparisons. The human experience is one that is built on individual observations from group situations. Specific demographics might think, act, or respond in particular ways to stimuli, but each person in that group will also contribute a small part to the whole. You could say that people are sponges that collect data from one another every day to create individual outcomes.

The case study method allows researchers to take the information from each demographic for comparison purposes. This information can then lead to proposals that support a hypothesis or lead to its disruption.

7. Data generalization is possible using the case study method. The case study method provides a foundation for data generalization, allowing researches to illustrate their statistical findings in meaningful ways. It puts the information into a usable format that almost anyone can use if they have the need to evaluate the hypothesis under consideration. This process makes it easier to discover unusual features, unique outcomes, or find conclusions that wouldn’t be available without this method. It does an excellent job of identifying specific concepts that relate to the proposed ideas that researchers were verifying through their work.

Generalization does not apply to a larger population group with the case study method. What researchers can do with this information is to suggest a predictable outcome when similar groups are placed in an equal situation.

8. It offers a comprehensive approach to research. Nothing gets ignored when using the case study method to collect information. Every person, place, or thing involved in the research receives the complete attention of those seeking data. The interactions are equal, which means the data is comprehensive and directly reflective of the group being observed.

This advantage means that there are fewer outliers to worry about when researching an idea, leading to a higher level of accuracy in the conclusions drawn by the researchers.

9. The identification of deviant cases is possible with this method. The case study method of research makes it easier to identify deviant cases that occur in each social group. These incidents are units (people) that behave in ways that go against the hypothesis under consideration. Instead of ignoring them like other options do when collecting data, this approach incorporates the “rogue” behavior to understand why it exists in the first place.

This advantage makes the eventual data and conclusions gathered more reliable because it incorporates the “alternative opinion” that exists. One might say that the case study method places as much emphasis on the yin as it does the yang so that the whole picture becomes available to the outside observer.

10. Questionnaire development is possible with the case study method. Interviews and direct observation are the preferred methods of implementing the case study method because it is cheap and done remotely. The information gathered by researchers can also lead to farming questionnaires that can farm additional data from those being studied. When all of the data resources come together, it is easier to formulate a conclusion that accurately reflects the demographics.

Some people in the case study method may try to manipulate the results for personal reasons, but this advantage makes it possible to identify this information readily. Then researchers can look into the thinking that goes into the dishonest behaviors observed.

List of the Disadvantages of the Case Study Method

1. The case study method offers limited representation. The usefulness of the case study method is limited to a specific group of representatives. Researchers are looking at a specific demographic when using this option. That means it is impossible to create any generalization that applies to the rest of society, an organization, or a larger community with this work. The findings can only apply to other groups caught in similar circumstances with the same experiences.

It is useful to use the case study method when attempting to discover the specific reasons why some people behave in a specific way. If researchers need something more generalized, then a different method must be used.

2. No classification is possible with the case study method. This disadvantage is also due to the sample size in the case study method. No classification is possible because researchers are studying such a small unit, group, or demographic. It can be an inefficient process since the skills of the researcher help to determine the quality of the data being collected to verify the validity of a hypothesis. Some participants may be unwilling to answer or participate, while others might try to guess at the outcome to support it.

Researchers can get trapped in a place where they explore more tangents than the actual hypothesis with this option. Classification can occur within the units being studied, but this data cannot extrapolate to other demographics.

3. The case study method still offers the possibility of errors. Each person has an unconscious bias that influences their behaviors and choices. The case study method can find outliers that oppose a hypothesis fairly easily thanks to its emphasis on finding facts, but it is up to the researchers to determine what information qualifies for this designation. If the results from the case study method are surprising or go against the opinion of participating individuals, then there is still the possibility that the information will not be 100% accurate.

Researchers must have controls in place that dictate how data gathering work occurs. Without this limitation in place, the results of the study cannot be guaranteed because of the presence of bias.

4. It is a subjective method to use for research. Although the purpose of the case study method of research is to gather facts, the foundation of what gets gathered is still based on opinion. It uses the subjective method instead of the objective one when evaluating data, which means there can be another layer of errors in the information to consider.

Imagine that a researcher interprets someone’s response as “angry” when performing direct observation, but the individual was feeling “shame” because of a decision they made. The difference between those two emotions is profound, and it could lead to information disruptions that could be problematic to the eventual work of hypothesis verification.

5. The processes required by the case study method are not useful for everyone. The case study method uses a person’s memories, explanations, and records from photographs and diaries to identify interactions on influences on psychological processes. People are given the chance to describe what happens in the world around them as a way for researchers to gather data. This process can be an advantage in some industries, but it can also be a worthless approach to some groups.

If the social group under study doesn’t have the information, knowledge, or wisdom to provide meaningful data, then the processes are no longer useful. Researchers must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the case study method before starting their work to determine if the possibility of value exists. If it does not, then a different method may be necessary.

6. It is possible for bias to form in the data. It’s not just an unconscious bias that can form in the data when using the case study method. The narrow study approach can lead to outright discrimination in the data. Researchers can decide to ignore outliers or any other information that doesn’t support their hypothesis when using this method. The subjective nature of this approach makes it difficult to challenge the conclusions that get drawn from this work, and the limited pool of units (people) means that duplication is almost impossible.

That means unethical people can manipulate the results gathered by the case study method to their own advantage without much accountability in the process.

7. This method has no fixed limits to it. This method of research is highly dependent on situational circumstances rather than overarching societal or corporate truths. That means the researcher has no fixed limits of investigation. Even when controls are in place to limit bias or recommend specific activities, the case study method has enough flexibility built into its structures to allow for additional exploration. That means it is possible for this work to continue indefinitely, gathering data that never becomes useful.

Scientists began to track the health of 268 sophomores at Harvard in 1938. The Great Depression was in its final years at that point, so the study hoped to reveal clues that lead to happy and healthy lives. It continues still today, now incorporating the children of the original participants, providing over 80 years of information to sort through for conclusions.

8. The case study method is time-consuming and expensive. The case study method can be affordable in some situations, but the lack of fixed limits and the ability to pursue tangents can make it a costly process in most situations. It takes time to gather the data in the first place, and then researchers must interpret the information received so that they can use it for hypothesis evaluation. There are other methods of data collection that can be less expensive and provide results faster.

That doesn’t mean the case study method is useless. The individualization of results can help the decision-making process advance in a variety of industries successfully. It just takes more time to reach the appropriate conclusion, and that might be a resource that isn’t available.

The advantages and disadvantages of the case study method suggest that the helpfulness of this research option depends on the specific hypothesis under consideration. When researchers have the correct skills and mindset to gather data accurately, then it can lead to supportive data that can verify ideas with tremendous accuracy.

This research method can also be used unethically to produce specific results that can be difficult to challenge.

When bias enters into the structure of the case study method, the processes become inefficient, inaccurate, and harmful to the hypothesis. That’s why great care must be taken when designing a study with this approach. It might be a labor-intensive way to develop conclusions, but the outcomes are often worth the investments needed.

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Home » Pros and Cons » 12 Case Study Method Advantages and Disadvantages

12 Case Study Method Advantages and Disadvantages

A case study is an investigation into an individual circumstance. The investigation may be of a single person, business, event, or group. The investigation involves collecting in-depth data about the individual entity through the use of several collection methods. Interviews and observation are two of the most common forms of data collection used.

The case study method was originally developed in the field of clinical medicine. It has expanded since to other industries to examine key results, either positive or negative, that were received through a specific set of decisions. This allows for the topic to be researched with great detail, allowing others to glean knowledge from the information presented.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using the case study method.

List of the Advantages of the Case Study Method

1. it turns client observations into useable data..

Case studies offer verifiable data from direct observations of the individual entity involved. These observations provide information about input processes. It can show the path taken which led to specific results being generated. Those observations make it possible for others, in similar circumstances, to potentially replicate the results discovered by the case study method.

2. It turns opinion into fact.

Case studies provide facts to study because you’re looking at data which was generated in real-time. It is a way for researchers to turn their opinions into information that can be verified as fact because there is a proven path of positive or negative development. Singling out a specific incident also provides in-depth details about the path of development, which gives it extra credibility to the outside observer.

3. It is relevant to all parties involved.

Case studies that are chosen well will be relevant to everyone who is participating in the process. Because there is such a high level of relevance involved, researchers are able to stay actively engaged in the data collection process. Participants are able to further their knowledge growth because there is interest in the outcome of the case study. Most importantly, the case study method essentially forces people to make a decision about the question being studied, then defend their position through the use of facts.

4. It uses a number of different research methodologies.

The case study method involves more than just interviews and direct observation. Case histories from a records database can be used with this method. Questionnaires can be distributed to participants in the entity being studies. Individuals who have kept diaries and journals about the entity being studied can be included. Even certain experimental tasks, such as a memory test, can be part of this research process.

5. It can be done remotely.

Researchers do not need to be present at a specific location or facility to utilize the case study method. Research can be obtained over the phone, through email, and other forms of remote communication. Even interviews can be conducted over the phone. That means this method is good for formative research that is exploratory in nature, even if it must be completed from a remote location.

6. It is inexpensive.

Compared to other methods of research, the case study method is rather inexpensive. The costs associated with this method involve accessing data, which can often be done for free. Even when there are in-person interviews or other on-site duties involved, the costs of reviewing the data are minimal.

7. It is very accessible to readers.

The case study method puts data into a usable format for those who read the data and note its outcome. Although there may be perspectives of the researcher included in the outcome, the goal of this method is to help the reader be able to identify specific concepts to which they also relate. That allows them to discover unusual features within the data, examine outliers that may be present, or draw conclusions from their own experiences.

List of the Disadvantages of the Case Study Method

1. it can have influence factors within the data..

Every person has their own unconscious bias. Although the case study method is designed to limit the influence of this bias by collecting fact-based data, it is the collector of the data who gets to define what is a “fact” and what is not. That means the real-time data being collected may be based on the results the researcher wants to see from the entity instead. By controlling how facts are collected, a research can control the results this method generates.

2. It takes longer to analyze the data.

The information collection process through the case study method takes much longer to collect than other research options. That is because there is an enormous amount of data which must be sifted through. It’s not just the researchers who can influence the outcome in this type of research method. Participants can also influence outcomes by given inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions they are asked. Researchers must verify the information presented to ensure its accuracy, and that takes time to complete.

3. It can be an inefficient process.

Case study methods require the participation of the individuals or entities involved for it to be a successful process. That means the skills of the researcher will help to determine the quality of information that is being received. Some participants may be quiet, unwilling to answer even basic questions about what is being studied. Others may be overly talkative, exploring tangents which have nothing to do with the case study at all. If researchers are unsure of how to manage this process, then incomplete data is often collected.

4. It requires a small sample size to be effective.

The case study method requires a small sample size for it to yield an effective amount of data to be analyzed. If there are different demographics involved with the entity, or there are different needs which must be examined, then the case study method becomes very inefficient.

5. It is a labor-intensive method of data collection.

The case study method requires researchers to have a high level of language skills to be successful with data collection. Researchers must be personally involved in every aspect of collecting the data as well. From reviewing files or entries personally to conducting personal interviews, the concepts and themes of this process are heavily reliant on the amount of work each researcher is willing to put into things.

These case study method advantages and disadvantages offer a look at the effectiveness of this research option. With the right skill set, it can be used as an effective tool to gather rich, detailed information about specific entities. Without the right skill set, the case study method becomes inefficient and inaccurate.

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Sociology

Case Study: Types, Advantages And Disadvantages

  Case Study: Types, Advantages And Disadvantages 

Case study is both method and tool for research. Case study is the intensive study of a phenomenon, but it gives subjective information rather than objective. It gives detailed knowledge about the phenomena and is not able to generalize beyond the knowledge.

Case studies aim to analyze specific issues within the boundaries of a specific environment, situation or organization. According to its design, case study research method can be divided into three categories: explanatory, descriptive and exploratory.

Explanatory case studies aim to answer ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions with little control on behalf of the researcher over occurrence of events. This type of case study focuses on phenomena within the contexts of real-life situations.

Descriptive case studies aim to analyze the sequence of interpersonal events after a certain amount of time has passed. Case studies belonging to this category usually describe culture or sub-culture, and they attempt to discover the key phenomena.

Exploratory case studies aim to find answers to the questions of ‘what’ or ‘who’. Exploratory case study data collection method is often accompanied by additional data collection method(s) such as interviews, questionnaires, experiments etc.

DEFINITION OF CASE STUDY

The case study or case history method is not a newer thing, but it is a linear descendent of very ancient methods of sociological description and generalization namely, the ‘parable’, the ‘allegory’, the ‘story’ and the ‘novel’.

According to P.V. Young . “A fairly exhaustive study of a person or group is called a life of case history.”

Thus, the case study is more intensive in nature; the field of study is comparatively limited but has more depth in it.

merits and demerits of case study

TYPES OF CASE STUDY

Six types of case studies are conducted which are as follows:

Community Studies: The community study is a careful description and analysis of a group of people living together in a particular geographic location in a corporative way. The community study deals with such elements of the community as location, appearance, prevailing economic activity, climate and natural sources, historical development, how the people live, the social structure, goals and life values, an evaluation of the social institutions within the community that meet the human needs etc. Such studies are case studies, with the community serving as the case under investigation.

Casual Comparative Studies: Another type of study seeks to find the answers to the problems through the analysis of casual relationships. What factors seem to be associated with certain occurrences, conditions or types of behaviour? By the methodology of descriptive research, the relative importance of these factors may be investigated.

Activity Analysis: The analysis of the activities or processes that an individual is called upon to perform is important, both in industry and in various types of social agencies. This process of analysis is appropriate in any field of work and at all levels of responsibility. In social system, the roles of superintendent, the principal, the teacher and the custodian have been carefully analyzed to discover what these individuals do and need to be able to do.

Content or Document Analysis: Content analysis, sometimes known as document analysis. Deals with the systematic examination of current records or documents as sources of data. In documentary analysis, the following may be used as sources of data: official records and reports, printed forms, text-books, reference books, letters, autobiographies diaries, pictures, films and cartoons etc . But in using documentary sources, one must bear in mind the fact that data appearing in print is not necessarily trustworthy. This content or document analysis should serve a useful purpose in research, adding important knowledge to a field to study or yielding information that is helpful in evaluating and improving social or educational practices.

A Follow-up Study: A follow-up study investigates individuals who have left an institution after having completed programme, a treatment or a course of study, to know what has been the impact of the institutions and its programme upon them. By examining their status or seeking their opinions, one may get some idea of the adequacy or inadequacy of the institutes programme. Studies of this type enable an institution to evaluate various aspects of its programme in the light of actual results.

Trend Studies: The trend or predictive study is an interesting application of the descriptive method. In essence, it is based upon a longitudinal consideration of recorded data, indicating what has been happening in the past, what does the present situation reveal and on the basis of these data, what will be likely to happen in the future.

Whatever type of case study is to conduct, it’s important to first identify the purpose, goals, and approach for conducting methodologically sound research.

ADVANTAGES OF CASE STUDY

The main points of advantages of case study are given below:

Formation of valid hypothesis: Case study helps in formulating valid hypothesis. Once the various cases are extensively studied and analyze, the researcher can deduce various generalizations, which may be developed into useful hypotheses. It is admitted by all that the study of relevant literature and case study form the only potent sources of hypothesis.

  Useful in framing questionnaires and schedules: Case study is of great help in framing questionnaires, schedules or other forms. When a questionnaire is prepared after thorough case study the peculiarities of the group as well as individual units, become known also the type of response likely to be available, liking and aversions of the people. This helps in getting prompt response.

Sampling: Case study is of help in the stratification of the sample. By studying the individual units the researcher can put them in definite classes or types and thereby facilitate the perfect stratification of the sample.

Location of deviant cases: The case study makes it possible to locate deviant cases. There exists a general tendency to ignore them, but for scientific analysis, they are very important. The analysis of such cases is of valuable help in clarifying the theory itself.

Study of process: In cases where the problem under study constitutes a process and not one incident e.g. courtship process, clique formation etc., case study is the appropriate method as the case data is essential for valid study of such problems.

Enlarges experience: The range of personal experience of the researcher is enlarged by the case study on the other hand in statistical methods a narrow range of topics is selected, and the researcher’s knowledge is restricted to the particular aspect only.

Qualitative analysis in actual situation: Case study enables the establishment of the significance of the recorded data when the individual is alive and later on within the life of the classes of individuals. The researcher has the opportunity to come into contact with different classes of people and he is in a position to watch their life and hear their experiences. This provides him with an opportunity to acquire experiences of such life situations which he is never expected to lead.

This discussion highlights the advantages of the case data in social research. Social scientists developed the techniques to make it more perfect and remove the chances of bias.

LIMITATIONS/DISADVANTAGES OF CASE STUDY METHOD

Subjective bias: Research subjectivity in collecting data for supporting or refuting a particular explanation, personal view of investigation influences the findings and conclusion of the study.

Problem of objectivity: Due to excessive association with the social unit under investigation the researcher may develop self-justificatory data which are far from being factual.

Difficulty in comparison: Because of wide variations among human beings in terms of their response and behaviour, attitudes and values, social setting and circumstances, etc., the researcher actually finds it difficult to trace out two social units which are identical in all respects. This hinders proper comparison of cases.

A time, energy and money consuming method: The preparation of a case history involves a lot of time and expenditure of human energy, therefore, there is every possibility that most of the cases may get stray. Due to such difficulties, only a few researchers can afford to case study method.

Time span: Long time span may be another factor that is likely to distort the information provided by the social unit to the researcher.

Unreliable source material: The two major sources of case study are: Personal documents and life history. But in both these cases, the records or the own experience of the social units may not present a true picture. On the contrary, the social unit may try to suppress his unpleasant facts or add colour to them. As a result, the conclusions drawn do not give a true picture and dependable findings.

Scope for wrong conclusions: The case study is laden with inaccurate observation, wrong inferences, faulty reporting, memory failure, repression or omission of unpleasant facts in an unconscious manner, dramatization of facts, more imaginary description, and difficulty in choosing a case typical of the group. All these problems provide the researcher with every possibility of drawing wrong conclusions and errors.

Case studies are complex because they generally involve multiple sources of data, may include multiple cases within a study and produce large amounts of data for analysis. Researchers from many disciplines use the case study method to build upon theory, to produce new theory, to dispute or challenge theory, to explain a situation, to provide a basis to apply solutions to situations, to explore, or to describe an object or phenomenon. The advantages of the case study method are its applicability to real-life, contemporary, human situations and its public accessibility through written reports. Case study results relate directly to the common readers everyday experience and facilitate an understanding of complex real-life situations.

__________________________________________________________________________

Research Methodology Methods and Techniques~C. R. Kothari (p.113) - Link

Fundamental of Research Methodology and Statistics~Yogesh Kumar Singh (Chapter–10: Case Study Method p. 147) - Link

Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches~W. Lawrence Neuman (p.42) - Link

The Basics of Social Research~Earl Babbie (p.280) - Link

Social Science Research Principles, Methods, and Practices~Anol Bhattacherjee (93) - Link

PREPARING A CASE STUDY: A Guide for Designing and Conducting a Case Study for Evaluation Input - Link

A Case in Case Study Methodology - Link

Case Study Method - Link1 & Link 2

Unit-4 Case Study - Link

Case study as a research method - Link

Case_Study~Tanya Sammut-Bonnici and John McGee - Link

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  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Case study examples
Research question Case study
What are the ecological effects of wolf reintroduction? Case study of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park
How do populist politicians use narratives about history to gain support? Case studies of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and US president Donald Trump
How can teachers implement active learning strategies in mixed-level classrooms? Case study of a local school that promotes active learning
What are the main advantages and disadvantages of wind farms for rural communities? Case studies of three rural wind farm development projects in different parts of the country
How are viral marketing strategies changing the relationship between companies and consumers? Case study of the iPhone X marketing campaign
How do experiences of work in the gig economy differ by gender, race and age? Case studies of Deliveroo and Uber drivers in London

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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Case Study Research Method in Psychology

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

On This Page:

Case studies are in-depth investigations of a person, group, event, or community. Typically, data is gathered from various sources using several methods (e.g., observations & interviews).

The case study research method originated in clinical medicine (the case history, i.e., the patient’s personal history). In psychology, case studies are often confined to the study of a particular individual.

The information is mainly biographical and relates to events in the individual’s past (i.e., retrospective), as well as to significant events that are currently occurring in his or her everyday life.

The case study is not a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies.

Freud (1909a, 1909b) conducted very detailed investigations into the private lives of his patients in an attempt to both understand and help them overcome their illnesses.

This makes it clear that the case study is a method that should only be used by a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist, i.e., someone with a professional qualification.

There is an ethical issue of competence. Only someone qualified to diagnose and treat a person can conduct a formal case study relating to atypical (i.e., abnormal) behavior or atypical development.

case study

 Famous Case Studies

  • Anna O – One of the most famous case studies, documenting psychoanalyst Josef Breuer’s treatment of “Anna O” (real name Bertha Pappenheim) for hysteria in the late 1800s using early psychoanalytic theory.
  • Little Hans – A child psychoanalysis case study published by Sigmund Freud in 1909 analyzing his five-year-old patient Herbert Graf’s house phobia as related to the Oedipus complex.
  • Bruce/Brenda – Gender identity case of the boy (Bruce) whose botched circumcision led psychologist John Money to advise gender reassignment and raise him as a girl (Brenda) in the 1960s.
  • Genie Wiley – Linguistics/psychological development case of the victim of extreme isolation abuse who was studied in 1970s California for effects of early language deprivation on acquiring speech later in life.
  • Phineas Gage – One of the most famous neuropsychology case studies analyzes personality changes in railroad worker Phineas Gage after an 1848 brain injury involving a tamping iron piercing his skull.

Clinical Case Studies

  • Studying the effectiveness of psychotherapy approaches with an individual patient
  • Assessing and treating mental illnesses like depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD
  • Neuropsychological cases investigating brain injuries or disorders

Child Psychology Case Studies

  • Studying psychological development from birth through adolescence
  • Cases of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD
  • Effects of trauma, abuse, deprivation on development

Types of Case Studies

  • Explanatory case studies : Used to explore causation in order to find underlying principles. Helpful for doing qualitative analysis to explain presumed causal links.
  • Exploratory case studies : Used to explore situations where an intervention being evaluated has no clear set of outcomes. It helps define questions and hypotheses for future research.
  • Descriptive case studies : Describe an intervention or phenomenon and the real-life context in which it occurred. It is helpful for illustrating certain topics within an evaluation.
  • Multiple-case studies : Used to explore differences between cases and replicate findings across cases. Helpful for comparing and contrasting specific cases.
  • Intrinsic : Used to gain a better understanding of a particular case. Helpful for capturing the complexity of a single case.
  • Collective : Used to explore a general phenomenon using multiple case studies. Helpful for jointly studying a group of cases in order to inquire into the phenomenon.

Where Do You Find Data for a Case Study?

There are several places to find data for a case study. The key is to gather data from multiple sources to get a complete picture of the case and corroborate facts or findings through triangulation of evidence. Most of this information is likely qualitative (i.e., verbal description rather than measurement), but the psychologist might also collect numerical data.

1. Primary sources

  • Interviews – Interviewing key people related to the case to get their perspectives and insights. The interview is an extremely effective procedure for obtaining information about an individual, and it may be used to collect comments from the person’s friends, parents, employer, workmates, and others who have a good knowledge of the person, as well as to obtain facts from the person him or herself.
  • Observations – Observing behaviors, interactions, processes, etc., related to the case as they unfold in real-time.
  • Documents & Records – Reviewing private documents, diaries, public records, correspondence, meeting minutes, etc., relevant to the case.

2. Secondary sources

  • News/Media – News coverage of events related to the case study.
  • Academic articles – Journal articles, dissertations etc. that discuss the case.
  • Government reports – Official data and records related to the case context.
  • Books/films – Books, documentaries or films discussing the case.

3. Archival records

Searching historical archives, museum collections and databases to find relevant documents, visual/audio records related to the case history and context.

Public archives like newspapers, organizational records, photographic collections could all include potentially relevant pieces of information to shed light on attitudes, cultural perspectives, common practices and historical contexts related to psychology.

4. Organizational records

Organizational records offer the advantage of often having large datasets collected over time that can reveal or confirm psychological insights.

Of course, privacy and ethical concerns regarding confidential data must be navigated carefully.

However, with proper protocols, organizational records can provide invaluable context and empirical depth to qualitative case studies exploring the intersection of psychology and organizations.

  • Organizational/industrial psychology research : Organizational records like employee surveys, turnover/retention data, policies, incident reports etc. may provide insight into topics like job satisfaction, workplace culture and dynamics, leadership issues, employee behaviors etc.
  • Clinical psychology : Therapists/hospitals may grant access to anonymized medical records to study aspects like assessments, diagnoses, treatment plans etc. This could shed light on clinical practices.
  • School psychology : Studies could utilize anonymized student records like test scores, grades, disciplinary issues, and counseling referrals to study child development, learning barriers, effectiveness of support programs, and more.

How do I Write a Case Study in Psychology?

Follow specified case study guidelines provided by a journal or your psychology tutor. General components of clinical case studies include: background, symptoms, assessments, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Interpreting the information means the researcher decides what to include or leave out. A good case study should always clarify which information is the factual description and which is an inference or the researcher’s opinion.

1. Introduction

  • Provide background on the case context and why it is of interest, presenting background information like demographics, relevant history, and presenting problem.
  • Compare briefly to similar published cases if applicable. Clearly state the focus/importance of the case.

2. Case Presentation

  • Describe the presenting problem in detail, including symptoms, duration,and impact on daily life.
  • Include client demographics like age and gender, information about social relationships, and mental health history.
  • Describe all physical, emotional, and/or sensory symptoms reported by the client.
  • Use patient quotes to describe the initial complaint verbatim. Follow with full-sentence summaries of relevant history details gathered, including key components that led to a working diagnosis.
  • Summarize clinical exam results, namely orthopedic/neurological tests, imaging, lab tests, etc. Note actual results rather than subjective conclusions. Provide images if clearly reproducible/anonymized.
  • Clearly state the working diagnosis or clinical impression before transitioning to management.

3. Management and Outcome

  • Indicate the total duration of care and number of treatments given over what timeframe. Use specific names/descriptions for any therapies/interventions applied.
  • Present the results of the intervention,including any quantitative or qualitative data collected.
  • For outcomes, utilize visual analog scales for pain, medication usage logs, etc., if possible. Include patient self-reports of improvement/worsening of symptoms. Note the reason for discharge/end of care.

4. Discussion

  • Analyze the case, exploring contributing factors, limitations of the study, and connections to existing research.
  • Analyze the effectiveness of the intervention,considering factors like participant adherence, limitations of the study, and potential alternative explanations for the results.
  • Identify any questions raised in the case analysis and relate insights to established theories and current research if applicable. Avoid definitive claims about physiological explanations.
  • Offer clinical implications, and suggest future research directions.

5. Additional Items

  • Thank specific assistants for writing support only. No patient acknowledgments.
  • References should directly support any key claims or quotes included.
  • Use tables/figures/images only if substantially informative. Include permissions and legends/explanatory notes.
  • Provides detailed (rich qualitative) information.
  • Provides insight for further research.
  • Permitting investigation of otherwise impractical (or unethical) situations.

Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’.

Because of their in-depth, multi-sided approach, case studies often shed light on aspects of human thinking and behavior that would be unethical or impractical to study in other ways.

Research that only looks into the measurable aspects of human behavior is not likely to give us insights into the subjective dimension of experience, which is important to psychoanalytic and humanistic psychologists.

Case studies are often used in exploratory research. They can help us generate new ideas (that might be tested by other methods). They are an important way of illustrating theories and can help show how different aspects of a person’s life are related to each other.

The method is, therefore, important for psychologists who adopt a holistic point of view (i.e., humanistic psychologists ).

Limitations

  • Lacking scientific rigor and providing little basis for generalization of results to the wider population.
  • Researchers’ own subjective feelings may influence the case study (researcher bias).
  • Difficult to replicate.
  • Time-consuming and expensive.
  • The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources.

Because a case study deals with only one person/event/group, we can never be sure if the case study investigated is representative of the wider body of “similar” instances. This means the conclusions drawn from a particular case may not be transferable to other settings.

Because case studies are based on the analysis of qualitative (i.e., descriptive) data , a lot depends on the psychologist’s interpretation of the information she has acquired.

This means that there is a lot of scope for Anna O , and it could be that the subjective opinions of the psychologist intrude in the assessment of what the data means.

For example, Freud has been criticized for producing case studies in which the information was sometimes distorted to fit particular behavioral theories (e.g., Little Hans ).

This is also true of Money’s interpretation of the Bruce/Brenda case study (Diamond, 1997) when he ignored evidence that went against his theory.

Breuer, J., & Freud, S. (1895).  Studies on hysteria . Standard Edition 2: London.

Curtiss, S. (1981). Genie: The case of a modern wild child .

Diamond, M., & Sigmundson, K. (1997). Sex Reassignment at Birth: Long-term Review and Clinical Implications. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine , 151(3), 298-304

Freud, S. (1909a). Analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy. In The Pelican Freud Library (1977), Vol 8, Case Histories 1, pages 169-306

Freud, S. (1909b). Bemerkungen über einen Fall von Zwangsneurose (Der “Rattenmann”). Jb. psychoanal. psychopathol. Forsch ., I, p. 357-421; GW, VII, p. 379-463; Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis, SE , 10: 151-318.

Harlow J. M. (1848). Passage of an iron rod through the head.  Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 39 , 389–393.

Harlow, J. M. (1868).  Recovery from the Passage of an Iron Bar through the Head .  Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society. 2  (3), 327-347.

Money, J., & Ehrhardt, A. A. (1972).  Man & Woman, Boy & Girl : The Differentiation and Dimorphism of Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Money, J., & Tucker, P. (1975). Sexual signatures: On being a man or a woman.

Further Information

  • Case Study Approach
  • Case Study Method
  • Enhancing the Quality of Case Studies in Health Services Research
  • “We do things together” A case study of “couplehood” in dementia
  • Using mixed methods for evaluating an integrative approach to cancer care: a case study

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5 Benefits of Learning Through the Case Study Method

Harvard Business School MBA students learning through the case study method

  • 28 Nov 2023

While several factors make HBS Online unique —including a global Community and real-world outcomes —active learning through the case study method rises to the top.

In a 2023 City Square Associates survey, 74 percent of HBS Online learners who also took a course from another provider said HBS Online’s case method and real-world examples were better by comparison.

Here’s a primer on the case method, five benefits you could gain, and how to experience it for yourself.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is the Harvard Business School Case Study Method?

The case study method , or case method , is a learning technique in which you’re presented with a real-world business challenge and asked how you’d solve it. After working through it yourself and with peers, you’re told how the scenario played out.

HBS pioneered the case method in 1922. Shortly before, in 1921, the first case was written.

“How do you go into an ambiguous situation and get to the bottom of it?” says HBS Professor Jan Rivkin, former senior associate dean and chair of HBS's master of business administration (MBA) program, in a video about the case method . “That skill—the skill of figuring out a course of inquiry to choose a course of action—that skill is as relevant today as it was in 1921.”

Originally developed for the in-person MBA classroom, HBS Online adapted the case method into an engaging, interactive online learning experience in 2014.

In HBS Online courses , you learn about each case from the business professional who experienced it. After reviewing their videos, you’re prompted to take their perspective and explain how you’d handle their situation.

You then get to read peers’ responses, “star” them, and comment to further the discussion. Afterward, you learn how the professional handled it and their key takeaways.

HBS Online’s adaptation of the case method incorporates the famed HBS “cold call,” in which you’re called on at random to make a decision without time to prepare.

“Learning came to life!” said Sheneka Balogun , chief administration officer and chief of staff at LeMoyne-Owen College, of her experience taking the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program . “The videos from the professors, the interactive cold calls where you were randomly selected to participate, and the case studies that enhanced and often captured the essence of objectives and learning goals were all embedded in each module. This made learning fun, engaging, and student-friendly.”

If you’re considering taking a course that leverages the case study method, here are five benefits you could experience.

5 Benefits of Learning Through Case Studies

1. take new perspectives.

The case method prompts you to consider a scenario from another person’s perspective. To work through the situation and come up with a solution, you must consider their circumstances, limitations, risk tolerance, stakeholders, resources, and potential consequences to assess how to respond.

Taking on new perspectives not only can help you navigate your own challenges but also others’. Putting yourself in someone else’s situation to understand their motivations and needs can go a long way when collaborating with stakeholders.

2. Hone Your Decision-Making Skills

Another skill you can build is the ability to make decisions effectively . The case study method forces you to use limited information to decide how to handle a problem—just like in the real world.

Throughout your career, you’ll need to make difficult decisions with incomplete or imperfect information—and sometimes, you won’t feel qualified to do so. Learning through the case method allows you to practice this skill in a low-stakes environment. When facing a real challenge, you’ll be better prepared to think quickly, collaborate with others, and present and defend your solution.

3. Become More Open-Minded

As you collaborate with peers on responses, it becomes clear that not everyone solves problems the same way. Exposing yourself to various approaches and perspectives can help you become a more open-minded professional.

When you’re part of a diverse group of learners from around the world, your experiences, cultures, and backgrounds contribute to a range of opinions on each case.

On the HBS Online course platform, you’re prompted to view and comment on others’ responses, and discussion is encouraged. This practice of considering others’ perspectives can make you more receptive in your career.

“You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from your peers,” said Ratnaditya Jonnalagadda , a software engineer who took CORe.

In addition to interacting with peers in the course platform, Jonnalagadda was part of the HBS Online Community , where he networked with other professionals and continued discussions sparked by course content.

“You get to understand your peers better, and students share examples of businesses implementing a concept from a module you just learned,” Jonnalagadda said. “It’s a very good way to cement the concepts in one's mind.”

4. Enhance Your Curiosity

One byproduct of taking on different perspectives is that it enables you to picture yourself in various roles, industries, and business functions.

“Each case offers an opportunity for students to see what resonates with them, what excites them, what bores them, which role they could imagine inhabiting in their careers,” says former HBS Dean Nitin Nohria in the Harvard Business Review . “Cases stimulate curiosity about the range of opportunities in the world and the many ways that students can make a difference as leaders.”

Through the case method, you can “try on” roles you may not have considered and feel more prepared to change or advance your career .

5. Build Your Self-Confidence

Finally, learning through the case study method can build your confidence. Each time you assume a business leader’s perspective, aim to solve a new challenge, and express and defend your opinions and decisions to peers, you prepare to do the same in your career.

According to a 2022 City Square Associates survey , 84 percent of HBS Online learners report feeling more confident making business decisions after taking a course.

“Self-confidence is difficult to teach or coach, but the case study method seems to instill it in people,” Nohria says in the Harvard Business Review . “There may well be other ways of learning these meta-skills, such as the repeated experience gained through practice or guidance from a gifted coach. However, under the direction of a masterful teacher, the case method can engage students and help them develop powerful meta-skills like no other form of teaching.”

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How to Experience the Case Study Method

If the case method seems like a good fit for your learning style, experience it for yourself by taking an HBS Online course. Offerings span seven subject areas, including:

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No matter which course or credential program you choose, you’ll examine case studies from real business professionals, work through their challenges alongside peers, and gain valuable insights to apply to your career.

Are you interested in discovering how HBS Online can help advance your career? Explore our course catalog and download our free guide —complete with interactive workbook sections—to determine if online learning is right for you and which course to take.

merits and demerits of case study

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Quantitative study designs: Case Studies/ Case Report/ Case Series

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Case Study / Case Report / Case Series

Some famous examples of case studies are John Martin Marlow’s case study on Phineas Gage (the man who had a railway spike through his head) and Sigmund Freud’s case studies, Little Hans and The Rat Man. Case studies are widely used in psychology to provide insight into unusual conditions.

A case study, also known as a case report, is an in depth or intensive study of a single individual or specific group, while a case series is a grouping of similar case studies / case reports together.

A case study / case report can be used in the following instances:

  • where there is atypical or abnormal behaviour or development
  • an unexplained outcome to treatment
  • an emerging disease or condition

The stages of a Case Study / Case Report / Case Series

merits and demerits of case study

Which clinical questions does Case Study / Case Report / Case Series best answer?

Emerging conditions, adverse reactions to treatments, atypical / abnormal behaviour, new programs or methods of treatment – all of these can be answered with case studies /case reports / case series. They are generally descriptive studies based on qualitative data e.g. observations, interviews, questionnaires, diaries, personal notes or clinical notes.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to consider when using Case Studies/ Case Reports and Case Series ?

What are the pitfalls to look for?

One pitfall that has occurred in some case studies is where two common conditions/treatments have been linked together with no comprehensive data backing up the conclusion. A hypothetical example could be where high rates of the common cold were associated with suicide when the cohort also suffered from depression.

Critical appraisal tools 

To assist with critically appraising Case studies / Case reports / Case series there are some tools / checklists you can use.

JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for Case Series

JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist for Case Reports

Real World Examples

Some Psychology case study / case report / case series examples

Capp, G. (2015). Our community, our schools : A case study of program design for school-based mental health services. Children & Schools, 37(4), 241–248. A pilot program to improve school based mental health services was instigated in one elementary school and one middle / high school. The case study followed the program from development through to implementation, documenting each step of the process.

Cowdrey, F. A. & Walz, L. (2015). Exposure therapy for fear of spiders in an adult with learning disabilities: A case report. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(1), 75–82. One person was studied who had completed a pre- intervention and post- intervention questionnaire. From the results of this data the exposure therapy intervention was found to be effective in reducing the phobia. This case report highlighted a therapy that could be used to assist people with learning disabilities who also suffered from phobias.

Li, H. X., He, L., Zhang, C. C., Eisinger, R., Pan, Y. X., Wang, T., . . . Li, D. Y. (2019). Deep brain stimulation in post‐traumatic dystonia: A case series study. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics. 1-8. Five patients were included in the case series, all with the same condition. They all received deep brain stimulation but not in the same area of the brain. Baseline and last follow up visit were assessed with the same rating scale.

References and Further Reading  

Greenhalgh, T. (2014). How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine. (5th ed.). New York: Wiley.

Heale, R. & Twycross, A. (2018). What is a case study? Evidence Based Nursing, 21(1), 7-8.

Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. (2019). Study design 101: case report. Retrieved from https://himmelfarb.gwu.edu/tutorials/studydesign101/casereports.cfm

Hoffmann T., Bennett S., Mar C. D. (2017). Evidence-based practice across the health professions. Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier.

Robinson, O. C., & McAdams, D. P. (2015). Four functional roles for case studies in emerging adulthood research. Emerging Adulthood, 3(6), 413-420.

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What are the benefits and drawbacks of case study research?

Posted by Mark Murphy | May 24, 2014 | Method , Research Students | 0

What are the benefits and drawbacks of case study research?

There should be no doubt that with case studies what you gain in depth you lose in breadth – this is the unavoidable compromise that needs to be understood from the beginning of the research process. So this is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage as one aspect cancels out the benefits/drawbacks of the other – there are other benefits and drawbacks that need attention however …

  • Their flexibility: case studies are popular for a number of reasons, one being that they can be conducted at various points in the research process. Researchers are known to favour them as a way to develop ideas for more extensive research in the future – pilot studies often take the form of case studies. They are also effective conduits for a broad range of research methods; in that sense they are non-prejudicial against any particular type of research – focus groups are just as welcome in case study research as are questionnaires or participant observation.
  • Capturing reality: One of their key benefits is their ability to capture what Hodkinson and Hodkinson call ‘lived reality’ (2001: 3). As they put it, case studies have the potential, when applied successfully, to ‘retain more of the “noise” of real life than many other types of research’ (Hodkinson and Hodkinson, 2001: 3). The importance of ‘noise’ and its place in research is especially important in contexts such as education, for example in schools where background noise is unavoidable. Educational contexts are always complex, and as a result it is difficult to exclude other unwanted variables, ‘some of which may only have real significance for one of their students’ (Hodkinson and Hodkinson, 2001, 4).
  • The challenge of generality: At the same time, given their specificity, care needs to be taken when attempting to generalise from the findings. While there’s no inherent flaw in case study design that precludes its broader application, it is preferable that researchers choose their case study sites carefully, while also basing their analysis within existing research findings that have been generated via other research designs. No design is infallible but so often has the claim against case studies been made, that some of the criticism (unwarranted and unfair in many cases) has stuck.
  • Suspicion of amateurism: Less partisan researchers might wonder whether the case study offers the time and finance-strapped researcher a convenient and pragmatic source of data, providing findings and recommendations that, given the nature of case studies, can neither be confirmed nor denied, in terms of utility or veracity. Who is to say that case studies offer anything more than a story to tell, and nothing more than that?
  • But alongside this suspicion is another more insiduous one – a notion that ‘stories’ are not what social science research is about. This can be a concern for those who favour  case study research, as the political consequences can be hard to ignore. That said, so much research is based either on peoples’ lives or the impact of other issues (poverty, institutional policy) on their lives, so the stories of what actually occurs in their lives or in professional environments tend to be an invaluable source of evidence. The fact is that stories (individual, collective, institutional) have a vital role to play in the world of research. And to play the specific v. general card against case study design suggests a tendency towards forms of research fundamentalism as opposed to any kind of rational and objective take on case study’s strengths and limitations.
  • Preciousness: Having said that, researchers should not fall into the trap (surprising how often this happens) of assuming that case study data speaks for itself – rarely is this ever the case, an assumption that is as patronising to research subjects as it is false. The role of the researcher is both to describe social phenomena and also to explain – i.e., interpret. Without interpretation the research findings lack meaningful presentation – they present themselves as fact when of course the reality of ‘facts’ is one of the reasons why such research is carried out.
  • Conflation of political/research objectives: Another trap that case study researchers sometimes fall into is presenting research findings as if they were self-evidently true, as if the stories were beyond criticism. This is often accompanied by a vague attachment to the notion that research is a political process – one that is performed as a form of liberation against for example policies that seek to ignore the stories of those who ‘suffer’ at the hands of overbearing political or economic imperatives. Case study design should not be viewed as a mechanism for providing a ‘local’ bulwark against the ‘global’ – bur rather as a mechanism for checking the veracity of universalist claims (at least one of its objectives). The valorisation of particularism can only get you so far in social research.

[This post is adapted from material in ‘Research and Education’ (Curtis, Murphy and Shields , Routledge 2014), pp. 80-82].

Reference: Hodkinson, P. and H. Hodkinson (2001). The strengths and limitations of case study research. Paper presented to the Learning and Skills Development Agency conference, Making an impact on policy and practice , Cambridge, 5-7 December 2001, downloaded from h ttp://education.exeter.ac.uk/tlc/docs/publications/LE_PH_PUB_05.12.01.rtf.26.01.2013

About The Author

Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy is a Reader in Education and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. He previously worked as an academic at King’s College, London, University of Chester, University of Stirling, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University College Dublin and Northern Illinois University. Mark is an active researcher in the fields of education and public policy. His research interests include educational sociology, critical theory, accountability in higher education, and public sector reform.

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Case Studies

There is no doubt that case studies are a valuable and important form of research for all of the industries and fields that use them. However, along with all their advantages, they also have some disadvantages. In this article we are going to look at both.

Advantages of Case Studies

Intensive Study

Case study method is responsible for intensive study of a unit. It is the investigation and exploration of an event thoroughly and deeply. You get a very detailed and in-depth study of a person or event. This is especially the case with subjects that cannot be physically or ethically recreated.

This is one of the biggest advantages of the Genie case. You cannot lock up a child for 13 years and deprive them of everything. That would be morally and ethically wrong in every single way. So when the opportunity presented itself, researchers could not look away. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about feral children.

Genie was a feral child. She was raised in completed isolation, with little human contact. Because of the abuse she withstood, she was unable to develop cognitively. From infancy she was strapped to a potty chair, and therefore never acquired the physicality needed for walking, running and jumping.

If Genie made a noise, her father beat her. Therefore, she learned to not make a noise. Once she was found, researchers studied her language skills, and attempted to find ways to get her to communicate. They were successful. While she never gained the ability to speak, she did develop other ways to communicate. However, the public soon lost interest in her case, and with that, the funds to conduct the study.

However, her case was extremely important to child development psychology and linguistic theory. Because of her, we know that mental stimulation is needed for proper development. We also now know that there is a "critical period" for the learning of language.

Developing New Research

Case studies are one of the best ways to stimulate new research. A case study can be completed, and if the findings are valuable, they can lead to new and advanced research in the field. There has been a great deal of research done that wouldn't have been possible without case studies.

An example of this is the sociological study Nickel and Dimed. Nickel and Dimed is a book and study done by Barbara Ehrenreich. She wanted to study poverty in America, and did so by living and working as a person living on minimum wage.

Through her experiment, she discovered that poverty was almost inescapable. As soon as she saved a little money, she was hit with a crisis. She might get sick, or her car might break down, all occurrences that can be destructive when a person doesn't have a safety net to fall back on.

It didn't matter where she lived or what she did. Working a minimum wage job gave her no chances for advancement or improvement whatsoever. And she did the experiment as a woman with no children to support.

This study opened a lot of eyes to the problem of the working poor in America. By living and working as the experiment, Ehrenreich was able to show first-hand data regarding the issues surrounding poverty. The book didn't end with any solutions, just suggestions for the reader and points for them to think about.

Using this case study information, new studies could be organized to learn better ways to help people who are fighting poverty, or better ways to help the working poor.

Contradicting Established Ideas or Theories

Oftentimes there are theories that may be questioned with case studies. For example, in the John/John case study, it was believed that gender and sexual identity were a construct of nurture, not nature.

John-John focused on a set of twin boys, both of whom were circumcised at the age of 6 months. One of the twin's circumcisions failed, causing irreparable damage to the penis. His parents were concerned about the sexual health of their son, so they contacted Dr. John Money for a solution.

Dr. Money believed that sexuality came from nurture, not nature, and that the injured baby, Bruce, could be raised as a girl. His penis was removed and he was sexually reassigned to become a girl. Bruce's name was changed to Brenda, and his parents decided to raise him as a girl.

In this case, Dr. Money was dishonest. He believed that gender could be changed, which has since been proven false. Brenda's parents were also dishonest, stating that the surgery was a success, when in fact that wasn't the case.

As Brenda grew up, she always acted masculine and was teased for it at school. She did not socialize as a girl, and did not identify as a female. When Brenda was 13 she learned the truth, and was incredibly relieved. She changed her name to David, and lived the rest of her life as a male.

This case proved that the general theory was wrong, and is still valuable, even though the study author was dishonest.

Giving New Insight

Case studies have the ability to give insight into phenomena that cannot be learned in any other way. An example of this is the case study about Sidney Bradford. Bradford was blind from the age of 10 months old, and regained his sight at the age of 52 from a corneal transplant.

This unique situation allowed researchers to better learn how perception and motion changes when suddenly given sight. They were able to better understand how colors and dimensions affect the human process. For what it is worth, Bradford continued to live and work with his eyes closed, as he found sight too stimulating.

Another famous study was the sociological study of Milgram.

Stanley Milgram did a study from 1960 to 1974 in which he studied the effects of social pressure. The study was set up as an independent laboratory. A random person would walk in, and agree to be a part of the study. He was told to act as a teacher, and ask questions to another volunteer, who was the learner.

The teacher would ask the learner questions, and whenever he answered incorrectly, the teacher was instructed to give the learner an electric shock. Each time the learner was wrong, the shock would be increased by 15 volts. What the teacher didn't know was that the learner was a part of the experiment, and that no shocks were being given. However, the learner did act as if they were being shocked.

If the teachers tried to quit, they were strongly pushed to continue. The goal of the experiment was to see whether or not any of the teachers would go up to the highest voltage. As it turned out, 65% of the teachers did.

This study opened eyes when it comes to social pressure. If someone tells you it is okay to hurt someone, at what point will the person back off and say "this is not ok!" And in this study, the results were the same, regardless of income, race, gender or ethnicity.

This study opened up the sociological world of understanding the divide between social pressure and morality.

Disadvantages of Case Studies

Inability to Replicate

As demonstrated with the Genie case study, many studies cannot be replicated, and therefore, cannot be corroborated. Because the studies cannot be replicated, it means the data and results are only valid for that one person. Now, one could infer that that results of the Genie study would be the same with other feral children, without additional studies we can never be 100% certain.

Also, Genie was a white, American female. We do not know whether someone with a different gender, race or ethnicity would have a different result.

Key Term! Hawthorne Effect

The effect in which people change their behavior when they are aware they are being observed.

Researcher Bias

When conducting a case study, it is very possible for the author to form a bias. This bias can be for the subject; the form of data collection, or the way the data is interpreted. This is very common, since it is normal for humans to be subjective. It is well known that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, was often biased in his case histories and interpretations.

The researcher can become close to a study participant, or may learn to identify with the subject. When this happens the researcher loses their perspective as an outsider.

No Classification

Any classification is not possible due to studying a small unit. This generalization of results is limited, since the study is only focusing on one small group. However, this isn't always a problem, especially if generalization is not one of the study's goals.

Time Intensive

Case studies can be very time consuming. The data collection process can be very intensive and long, and this is something new researchers are not familiar with. It takes a long period of time to develop a case study, and develop a detailed analysis.

Many studies also require the authors to immerse themselves in the case. For example, in the Genie case, the lead researchers spent an abnormal amount of time with Genie, since so few people knew how to handle her. David Rigler, one of the lead researchers, actually had Genie live with him and his family for years. Because of this attachment, many questioned the veracity of the study data.

Possibility of Errors

Case study method may have errors of memory or judgment. Since reconstructing case history is based on memory, this can lead to errors. Also, how one person perceived the past could be different for another person, and this can and does lead to errors.

When considering various aspects of their lives, people tend to focus on issues that they find most important. This allows them to form a prejudice and can make them unaware of other possible options.

Ethical Issues

With small studies, there is always the question of ethics. At what point does a study become unethical? The Genie case was riddled with accusations of being unethical, and people still debate about it today.

Was it ethical to study Genie as deeply as she was studied?

Did Genie deserve to live out her life unbothered by researchers and academics trying to use her case to potentially further their careers?

At what point does the pursuit of scientific knowledge outweigh the right to a life free from research?

Also, because the researchers became so invested in the study, people questioned whether a researcher would report unethical behavior if they witnessed it.

Advantages and Disadvantages in Real-Life Studies

Two of these case studies are the Tylenol Scandal and the Genie language study.

Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of these two studies.

Genie – Advantages

Uniqueness of study – Being able to study a feral child is a rare occurrence.

Genie – Disadvantages

Ethics - The lead researcher David Rigler provided a home for Genie, and was paid for being a foster parent. This is often seen as unethical, since Rigler had a financial interest in Genie and her case.

Tylenol – Advantages

Uniqueness of study – What happened to Tylenol was very unique and rare. While companies face crisis all the time, a public health crisis of this magnitude is very unique.

Tylenol – Disadvantages

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  • Published: 27 June 2011

The case study approach

  • Sarah Crowe 1 ,
  • Kathrin Cresswell 2 ,
  • Ann Robertson 2 ,
  • Guro Huby 3 ,
  • Anthony Avery 1 &
  • Aziz Sheikh 2  

BMC Medical Research Methodology volume  11 , Article number:  100 ( 2011 ) Cite this article

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The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

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Introduction

The case study approach is particularly useful to employ when there is a need to obtain an in-depth appreciation of an issue, event or phenomenon of interest, in its natural real-life context. Our aim in writing this piece is to provide insights into when to consider employing this approach and an overview of key methodological considerations in relation to the design, planning, analysis, interpretation and reporting of case studies.

The illustrative 'grand round', 'case report' and 'case series' have a long tradition in clinical practice and research. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context' [ 1 ]. Based on our experiences of conducting a range of case studies, we reflect on when to consider using this approach, discuss the key steps involved and illustrate, with examples, some of the practical challenges of attaining an in-depth understanding of a 'case' as an integrated whole. In keeping with previously published work, we acknowledge the importance of theory to underpin the design, selection, conduct and interpretation of case studies[ 2 ]. In so doing, we make passing reference to the different epistemological approaches used in case study research by key theoreticians and methodologists in this field of enquiry.

This paper is structured around the following main questions: What is a case study? What are case studies used for? How are case studies conducted? What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided? We draw in particular on four of our own recently published examples of case studies (see Tables 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 ) and those of others to illustrate our discussion[ 3 – 7 ].

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that is used to generate an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of a complex issue in its real-life context. It is an established research design that is used extensively in a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. A case study can be defined in a variety of ways (Table 5 ), the central tenet being the need to explore an event or phenomenon in depth and in its natural context. It is for this reason sometimes referred to as a "naturalistic" design; this is in contrast to an "experimental" design (such as a randomised controlled trial) in which the investigator seeks to exert control over and manipulate the variable(s) of interest.

Stake's work has been particularly influential in defining the case study approach to scientific enquiry. He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic , instrumental and collective [ 8 ]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. The collective case study involves studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a still broader appreciation of a particular issue.

These are however not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. In the first of our examples (Table 1 ), we undertook an intrinsic case study to investigate the issue of recruitment of minority ethnic people into the specific context of asthma research studies, but it developed into a instrumental case study through seeking to understand the issue of recruitment of these marginalised populations more generally, generating a number of the findings that are potentially transferable to other disease contexts[ 3 ]. In contrast, the other three examples (see Tables 2 , 3 and 4 ) employed collective case study designs to study the introduction of workforce reconfiguration in primary care, the implementation of electronic health records into hospitals, and to understand the ways in which healthcare students learn about patient safety considerations[ 4 – 6 ]. Although our study focusing on the introduction of General Practitioners with Specialist Interests (Table 2 ) was explicitly collective in design (four contrasting primary care organisations were studied), is was also instrumental in that this particular professional group was studied as an exemplar of the more general phenomenon of workforce redesign[ 4 ].

What are case studies used for?

According to Yin, case studies can be used to explain, describe or explore events or phenomena in the everyday contexts in which they occur[ 1 ]. These can, for example, help to understand and explain causal links and pathways resulting from a new policy initiative or service development (see Tables 2 and 3 , for example)[ 1 ]. In contrast to experimental designs, which seek to test a specific hypothesis through deliberately manipulating the environment (like, for example, in a randomised controlled trial giving a new drug to randomly selected individuals and then comparing outcomes with controls),[ 9 ] the case study approach lends itself well to capturing information on more explanatory ' how ', 'what' and ' why ' questions, such as ' how is the intervention being implemented and received on the ground?'. The case study approach can offer additional insights into what gaps exist in its delivery or why one implementation strategy might be chosen over another. This in turn can help develop or refine theory, as shown in our study of the teaching of patient safety in undergraduate curricula (Table 4 )[ 6 , 10 ]. Key questions to consider when selecting the most appropriate study design are whether it is desirable or indeed possible to undertake a formal experimental investigation in which individuals and/or organisations are allocated to an intervention or control arm? Or whether the wish is to obtain a more naturalistic understanding of an issue? The former is ideally studied using a controlled experimental design, whereas the latter is more appropriately studied using a case study design.

Case studies may be approached in different ways depending on the epistemological standpoint of the researcher, that is, whether they take a critical (questioning one's own and others' assumptions), interpretivist (trying to understand individual and shared social meanings) or positivist approach (orientating towards the criteria of natural sciences, such as focusing on generalisability considerations) (Table 6 ). Whilst such a schema can be conceptually helpful, it may be appropriate to draw on more than one approach in any case study, particularly in the context of conducting health services research. Doolin has, for example, noted that in the context of undertaking interpretative case studies, researchers can usefully draw on a critical, reflective perspective which seeks to take into account the wider social and political environment that has shaped the case[ 11 ].

How are case studies conducted?

Here, we focus on the main stages of research activity when planning and undertaking a case study; the crucial stages are: defining the case; selecting the case(s); collecting and analysing the data; interpreting data; and reporting the findings.

Defining the case

Carefully formulated research question(s), informed by the existing literature and a prior appreciation of the theoretical issues and setting(s), are all important in appropriately and succinctly defining the case[ 8 , 12 ]. Crucially, each case should have a pre-defined boundary which clarifies the nature and time period covered by the case study (i.e. its scope, beginning and end), the relevant social group, organisation or geographical area of interest to the investigator, the types of evidence to be collected, and the priorities for data collection and analysis (see Table 7 )[ 1 ]. A theory driven approach to defining the case may help generate knowledge that is potentially transferable to a range of clinical contexts and behaviours; using theory is also likely to result in a more informed appreciation of, for example, how and why interventions have succeeded or failed[ 13 ].

For example, in our evaluation of the introduction of electronic health records in English hospitals (Table 3 ), we defined our cases as the NHS Trusts that were receiving the new technology[ 5 ]. Our focus was on how the technology was being implemented. However, if the primary research interest had been on the social and organisational dimensions of implementation, we might have defined our case differently as a grouping of healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and/or nurses). The precise beginning and end of the case may however prove difficult to define. Pursuing this same example, when does the process of implementation and adoption of an electronic health record system really begin or end? Such judgements will inevitably be influenced by a range of factors, including the research question, theory of interest, the scope and richness of the gathered data and the resources available to the research team.

Selecting the case(s)

The decision on how to select the case(s) to study is a very important one that merits some reflection. In an intrinsic case study, the case is selected on its own merits[ 8 ]. The case is selected not because it is representative of other cases, but because of its uniqueness, which is of genuine interest to the researchers. This was, for example, the case in our study of the recruitment of minority ethnic participants into asthma research (Table 1 ) as our earlier work had demonstrated the marginalisation of minority ethnic people with asthma, despite evidence of disproportionate asthma morbidity[ 14 , 15 ]. In another example of an intrinsic case study, Hellstrom et al.[ 16 ] studied an elderly married couple living with dementia to explore how dementia had impacted on their understanding of home, their everyday life and their relationships.

For an instrumental case study, selecting a "typical" case can work well[ 8 ]. In contrast to the intrinsic case study, the particular case which is chosen is of less importance than selecting a case that allows the researcher to investigate an issue or phenomenon. For example, in order to gain an understanding of doctors' responses to health policy initiatives, Som undertook an instrumental case study interviewing clinicians who had a range of responsibilities for clinical governance in one NHS acute hospital trust[ 17 ]. Sampling a "deviant" or "atypical" case may however prove even more informative, potentially enabling the researcher to identify causal processes, generate hypotheses and develop theory.

In collective or multiple case studies, a number of cases are carefully selected. This offers the advantage of allowing comparisons to be made across several cases and/or replication. Choosing a "typical" case may enable the findings to be generalised to theory (i.e. analytical generalisation) or to test theory by replicating the findings in a second or even a third case (i.e. replication logic)[ 1 ]. Yin suggests two or three literal replications (i.e. predicting similar results) if the theory is straightforward and five or more if the theory is more subtle. However, critics might argue that selecting 'cases' in this way is insufficiently reflexive and ill-suited to the complexities of contemporary healthcare organisations.

The selected case study site(s) should allow the research team access to the group of individuals, the organisation, the processes or whatever else constitutes the chosen unit of analysis for the study. Access is therefore a central consideration; the researcher needs to come to know the case study site(s) well and to work cooperatively with them. Selected cases need to be not only interesting but also hospitable to the inquiry [ 8 ] if they are to be informative and answer the research question(s). Case study sites may also be pre-selected for the researcher, with decisions being influenced by key stakeholders. For example, our selection of case study sites in the evaluation of the implementation and adoption of electronic health record systems (see Table 3 ) was heavily influenced by NHS Connecting for Health, the government agency that was responsible for overseeing the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)[ 5 ]. This prominent stakeholder had already selected the NHS sites (through a competitive bidding process) to be early adopters of the electronic health record systems and had negotiated contracts that detailed the deployment timelines.

It is also important to consider in advance the likely burden and risks associated with participation for those who (or the site(s) which) comprise the case study. Of particular importance is the obligation for the researcher to think through the ethical implications of the study (e.g. the risk of inadvertently breaching anonymity or confidentiality) and to ensure that potential participants/participating sites are provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about joining the study. The outcome of providing this information might be that the emotive burden associated with participation, or the organisational disruption associated with supporting the fieldwork, is considered so high that the individuals or sites decide against participation.

In our example of evaluating implementations of electronic health record systems, given the restricted number of early adopter sites available to us, we sought purposively to select a diverse range of implementation cases among those that were available[ 5 ]. We chose a mixture of teaching, non-teaching and Foundation Trust hospitals, and examples of each of the three electronic health record systems procured centrally by the NPfIT. At one recruited site, it quickly became apparent that access was problematic because of competing demands on that organisation. Recognising the importance of full access and co-operative working for generating rich data, the research team decided not to pursue work at that site and instead to focus on other recruited sites.

Collecting the data

In order to develop a thorough understanding of the case, the case study approach usually involves the collection of multiple sources of evidence, using a range of quantitative (e.g. questionnaires, audits and analysis of routinely collected healthcare data) and more commonly qualitative techniques (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations). The use of multiple sources of data (data triangulation) has been advocated as a way of increasing the internal validity of a study (i.e. the extent to which the method is appropriate to answer the research question)[ 8 , 18 – 21 ]. An underlying assumption is that data collected in different ways should lead to similar conclusions, and approaching the same issue from different angles can help develop a holistic picture of the phenomenon (Table 2 )[ 4 ].

Brazier and colleagues used a mixed-methods case study approach to investigate the impact of a cancer care programme[ 22 ]. Here, quantitative measures were collected with questionnaires before, and five months after, the start of the intervention which did not yield any statistically significant results. Qualitative interviews with patients however helped provide an insight into potentially beneficial process-related aspects of the programme, such as greater, perceived patient involvement in care. The authors reported how this case study approach provided a number of contextual factors likely to influence the effectiveness of the intervention and which were not likely to have been obtained from quantitative methods alone.

In collective or multiple case studies, data collection needs to be flexible enough to allow a detailed description of each individual case to be developed (e.g. the nature of different cancer care programmes), before considering the emerging similarities and differences in cross-case comparisons (e.g. to explore why one programme is more effective than another). It is important that data sources from different cases are, where possible, broadly comparable for this purpose even though they may vary in nature and depth.

Analysing, interpreting and reporting case studies

Making sense and offering a coherent interpretation of the typically disparate sources of data (whether qualitative alone or together with quantitative) is far from straightforward. Repeated reviewing and sorting of the voluminous and detail-rich data are integral to the process of analysis. In collective case studies, it is helpful to analyse data relating to the individual component cases first, before making comparisons across cases. Attention needs to be paid to variations within each case and, where relevant, the relationship between different causes, effects and outcomes[ 23 ]. Data will need to be organised and coded to allow the key issues, both derived from the literature and emerging from the dataset, to be easily retrieved at a later stage. An initial coding frame can help capture these issues and can be applied systematically to the whole dataset with the aid of a qualitative data analysis software package.

The Framework approach is a practical approach, comprising of five stages (familiarisation; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; mapping and interpretation) , to managing and analysing large datasets particularly if time is limited, as was the case in our study of recruitment of South Asians into asthma research (Table 1 )[ 3 , 24 ]. Theoretical frameworks may also play an important role in integrating different sources of data and examining emerging themes. For example, we drew on a socio-technical framework to help explain the connections between different elements - technology; people; and the organisational settings within which they worked - in our study of the introduction of electronic health record systems (Table 3 )[ 5 ]. Our study of patient safety in undergraduate curricula drew on an evaluation-based approach to design and analysis, which emphasised the importance of the academic, organisational and practice contexts through which students learn (Table 4 )[ 6 ].

Case study findings can have implications both for theory development and theory testing. They may establish, strengthen or weaken historical explanations of a case and, in certain circumstances, allow theoretical (as opposed to statistical) generalisation beyond the particular cases studied[ 12 ]. These theoretical lenses should not, however, constitute a strait-jacket and the cases should not be "forced to fit" the particular theoretical framework that is being employed.

When reporting findings, it is important to provide the reader with enough contextual information to understand the processes that were followed and how the conclusions were reached. In a collective case study, researchers may choose to present the findings from individual cases separately before amalgamating across cases. Care must be taken to ensure the anonymity of both case sites and individual participants (if agreed in advance) by allocating appropriate codes or withholding descriptors. In the example given in Table 3 , we decided against providing detailed information on the NHS sites and individual participants in order to avoid the risk of inadvertent disclosure of identities[ 5 , 25 ].

What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided?

The case study approach is, as with all research, not without its limitations. When investigating the formal and informal ways undergraduate students learn about patient safety (Table 4 ), for example, we rapidly accumulated a large quantity of data. The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted on the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources. This highlights a more general point of the importance of avoiding the temptation to collect as much data as possible; adequate time also needs to be set aside for data analysis and interpretation of what are often highly complex datasets.

Case study research has sometimes been criticised for lacking scientific rigour and providing little basis for generalisation (i.e. producing findings that may be transferable to other settings)[ 1 ]. There are several ways to address these concerns, including: the use of theoretical sampling (i.e. drawing on a particular conceptual framework); respondent validation (i.e. participants checking emerging findings and the researcher's interpretation, and providing an opinion as to whether they feel these are accurate); and transparency throughout the research process (see Table 8 )[ 8 , 18 – 21 , 23 , 26 ]. Transparency can be achieved by describing in detail the steps involved in case selection, data collection, the reasons for the particular methods chosen, and the researcher's background and level of involvement (i.e. being explicit about how the researcher has influenced data collection and interpretation). Seeking potential, alternative explanations, and being explicit about how interpretations and conclusions were reached, help readers to judge the trustworthiness of the case study report. Stake provides a critique checklist for a case study report (Table 9 )[ 8 ].

Conclusions

The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and programme-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context. It should therefore be considered when an experimental design is either inappropriate to answer the research questions posed or impossible to undertake. Considering the frequency with which implementations of innovations are now taking place in healthcare settings and how well the case study approach lends itself to in-depth, complex health service research, we believe this approach should be more widely considered by researchers. Though inherently challenging, the research case study can, if carefully conceptualised and thoughtfully undertaken and reported, yield powerful insights into many important aspects of health and healthcare delivery.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the participants and colleagues who contributed to the individual case studies that we have drawn on. This work received no direct funding, but it has been informed by projects funded by Asthma UK, the NHS Service Delivery Organisation, NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme, and Patient Safety Research Portfolio. We would also like to thank the expert reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Allison Worth who commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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Case Study Method: Definition, Research Types, Advantages

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by  Antony W

May 29, 2024

case study method

Case study method, or simply case study research methodology, is a technique that employs investigative inquiry to get data from specific individuals, organizations, groups, events, or demography.

Every participant in a case study method gets a similar engagement with hopes that he or she will provide information that helps with the discovery of novel insights on patterns, ideas, or hypothesis.

What’s The Origin of Case Study Method?

Frederic Le Play in France developed the case study method in sociology in 1829. Field workers would stay with families for a specific time and gather significant data such as income, expenditure, and interaction to understand the family in question.

The case study method was equally popular in clinical medicine, as it helped to generate, analyze, and support hypotheses .

Researchers adapted and integrated the technique to other sectors because of the benefits it uncovered in sociology, anthropology, and clinical medicine. The technique allows for the analysis of outcome through suggested decisions, procedures, and outcomes. 

What Research Types are Used in Case Study Method?

Your case study can be collective, descriptive, exploratory, explanatory, instrumental, or intrinsic.

These case study types require a comprehensive research methodology, which refers to procedures and techniques used to process and evaluate data to solve a problem and achieve a specific goal.

There are 2 types of research approaches for case studies: qualitative and quantitative research . These methods focus on different goals, data, and study.

Qualitative Research for Case Study

Qualitative research focuses on the collection and analysis of non-numerical data and it mostly applies to health sciences, anthropology, history, sociology, and education.

Examples of non-numerical data include audio, text, and video. You can collect qualitative data from focus groups, interviews, surveys, and observations.

Qualitative research for case studies enables you to generate new ideas and helpful insights with relevance and meaning.

Quantitative Research for Case Study

Quantitative research focuses on the collection and analysis of numbers, and it’s common in marketing, psychology, political science, economics, and sociology. Researchers use qualitative research to measure relationships and to test and track averages and patterns.

To do a comprehensive quantitative research:

  • Come up with a theory.
  • Develop a hypothesis.
  • Create a research pattern.
  • Operationalize a concept.
  • Find a research environment (site).
  • Choose your responders.
  • Gather, process, and analyze data.
  • Record your key findings and publish the results.

What are the Advantages of Case Study Methodology?

The following are the six advantages of the case study methodology:

1. Detailed Examination of a Specific Unit

The case study method enables researchers to document independently verifiable data from firsthand observations. The results provide information on the input mechanism that contributes to a proposed explanation under consideration.

2. Formation of Hypothesis

Researchers use the case study method to test a proposed hypothesis . More often than not, the information acquired from the study may inspire the formation of new concepts and allow further research because it supports change in social and physical settings.

You may collect a comprehensive data set depending on your ability and the openness of the study participants.

3. Constant Examination of Facts

You can use the case study methodology to examine facts about a social group continuously. The constant examination of facts ensures no disruption compromises the authenticity of the data obtained for the project.

Here, researchers don’t need to make assumptions when making conclusions from the collected data, thus ensuring the long-term validity of the findings. The conclusion made becomes significant to both sides of the equation, as it may confirm or reject the theory under investigation.

The constant examination of facts in case study methodology is subject to inefficiency because of the sheer volume of data under examination. Therefore, researchers have the responsibility to determine what information is helpful and what is insignificant.

4. Case Study Method Supports Comparison

Every demographic thinks, behaves, and responds to stimuli in unique ways, but each member of the group will contribute a little portion to a whole. Ideally, individual insights from different settings are a culmination of unique human experiences.

In this case, the case study method allows researchers to compare information from each demographic group, leading to ideas that either support or disapprove a theory.

5. Support for Knowledge Expansion

Researchers can use the case study methodology to expand their knowledge through analysis thanks to the range of methods used to collect data and evaluate hypothesis.

Many researchers collect data from interviews and observations, but even surveys can be just as useful. They may record participants’ experiences and use the information to analyze behavior and decisions. In some instances, a researcher may use memory test and experimental activities to predict how social groups would interact with or respond to given situations.

The information collected then serves to confirm the hypothesized possibilities.

6. Data Sampling Isn’t a Requirement

The case study method looks at social units holistically rather than isolating and analyzing individual data pieces. Therefore, the technique doesn’t require any sampling. The case study method supports the proposition under examination, as it transforms views into facts by validating or rejecting ideas that outside observers may use.

You may heed to specific incidences or results based on broader behavior or concepts. However, the study itself will not sample such instance. The methodology looks at the larger picture instead.

Where Can I Get Help With Case Study Writing?

You can get help with case study writing from Help for Assessment. We have the best case study writers who are only a click away to get you the writing you need to complete your paper on time.

It doesn’t matter if your deadline is closing in or you haven’t started working on the project yet. We can take you from a completely blank page to a well-written document before your due date. 

Help for Assessment charges $12.99 to $40 per page depending on the urgency. You get up to 10% discount if you’re new to this platform. So you can save money and still benefit from the convenience of our custom writing.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

merits and demerits of case study

merits and demerits of case study

Definition of case study along with its advantages and disadvantages

merits and demerits of case study

Case study is defined as “An event, an entity, an individual or even a unit of analysis” (Yin, 1989). A case study is also defined as an “Empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context using multiple sources of evidence” (Anderson, 1993). The case is also concerned on the reasoning of why and how the events happen so that the contextual realities could be captured and the variations in what was initially planned and what actually occurred could be perceived.

The case study is qualitative type of method; therefore, it has the same advantages as that of qualitative method. Case study can be either single or multiple cases. Single case is the analysis of one single phenomenon. According to Yin, Single cases are the most appropriate to confirm or challenge a theory or to represent a unique or extreme case.

Advantages of the case study:

  • As we can observe the case directly and relate it to theoretical part, we can get the data directly from the case and analyse it.
  • Results obtained through case study are more practical than ideal. As a researcher we observe and read the case directly: it is direct and simple method.
  • It is a flexible method of doing research, because researcher is free to discover and address issues as they arrive in their experiments.

Limitations of case study:

It narrows down the area of research: the research is limited to an individual or group individuals the results inferred by research are not universal. So it is difficult to generalise the results.

Anderson, G.J. (1993). Fundamentals of Educational Research. Falmer Press teachers’ library series. [Online]. Taylor & Francis Group. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=B5CGPwAACAAJ. Yin, R.K. (1989). Case study research: Design and methods. Applied Social Research Series. [Online]. London: Sage. Available from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.461.5170&rep=rep1&type=pdf.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study

A case study lets you conduct an in-depth study in a particular subject as an investigation into an individual circumstance. This study may be conducted by a single person, group of person, or a business. There are benefits of the case study for both the readers and the researcher. However, pitfalls can be problematic for the researcher to establish facts from opinions and statistics. This section details out the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Case Study .

What are the Advantages of Case Study Method?

The process of conducting a case study involves collecting in-depth data about the individual entity or using several collection methods and tools. There can be offline, online or even both types of resources involved during the case study. Access to refined knowledge is one of the greatest advantages of the case study.

1. Case Study helps Convert client observations into useable data

Case studies offer various verifiable data from direct or indirect observations of the individual entity that can be further embedded into crisp information that concludes with derivatives. The observed information is simply based on the input-output method using which the results about other identical entities can be easily drawn.

2. It helps turn opinion into evidence-based facts

All the data collected and observed during the study is real-time. Most of it is also based on researchers’ opinions as the same can depend on data-driven results such as positive or negative impacts. For example, to aware others about the pros and cons of solar energy , the researchers have to find the facts in support and against it through real-life examples.

3. It is relevant to everyone

Case studies were first conducted in Medical sciences where chosen subjects were to go under experiment-based observation. These studies were relevant to every participant and the observers, including the parties for whom these results were produced. Thus, the case study method essentially forces people to decide the question being studied and then defend their position through facts.

4. Case Studies employ Variety of research methods

Whether hand-written notes, online reviews, historical data, or real-time experimental tasks, every material has great significance in conducting case studies. Most case study methods involve more than just one source of information, such as interviews and direct observation. Case histories from a records database and Questionnaires can be used with this method. Writing notes in diaries and journals about the entity is a good example of a regular case study based on day-to-day observations.

5. It can be done from anywhere

Case studies can also be a very cost-efficient way to research a remote area. Researchers don’t have to move from places to places or facility to use the available case study method. Research can be done and concluded through phone, email, or messenger services. Discussions can take place entirely over the conferencing app such as zoom or Skype. That means the case study method is good for exploratory and formative research, even if it must be managed remotely.

What are the Disadvantages of the Case Study?

Started with the medical Sciences Case Study Method has now expanded to every sector considering the consumer market's dynamic structure. These case studies are important to examine key results, the positive or negative outcomes of particular services and product that's either launched already or is ready to be out. A case study method, however, is not always as productive or efficient. There can be disadvantages of case study , which needs to be considered even before researchers dive into it.

1. There can be difference in facts and data presented

The case study method is based on fact-based data mostly. It’s the researcher or the data collector who specifies the data and defines its values. Deciding what’s factual and what’s not can be difficult when entered records are false or real-time information is not available. If the data is based on opinions, there will be an error in the concluding report and stats.

2. Most Case Studies Take time

Time is the one of the concerning disadvantages of Case Studies next to data redundancy. From the start till the end, the procedure of conducting case studies extensive is time-consuming. The more researchers involve in it, the more complicated it becomes. There is an enormous amount of data that's compiled. It's not just the researchers who can affect the outcome in this type of research method. Participants can also influence the conclusion by giving inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions. This means there will be more consumption throughout the research. The best solution to this problem is to break the process of case studies into smaller modules and assign each researcher's responsibility strictly.

3. Case Study method can be ineffective

Provided there are no efficient data, participants, or researchers' involvement, the case study method can be useless and a waste of money. Case study methods require the participation of the individuals or entities involved for it to be successful. The skills of the researcher help determine the quality of information being received from different sources. Unskilled or inexperienced researchers can make this research method useless and inefficient. If researchers are uncertain of handling this process, insufficient data will do the rest of the damage.

4. Case Study Requires sample size data to be effective

Rather than covering an entire group or community, it’s better to focus on a single entity and draw conclusions based on the feedback and characteristics. The case study method requires a small sample size to yield an effective amount of data to be analyzed. If there are different demographics involved with the entity or different needs that must be examined, then the case study method becomes very inefficient.

This can be considered like integration and differentiation methods in mathematics. Studying a small unit yields the same results as studying the entire system. Collecting information for a large group or system can be full of errors, ambiguity, and inaccuracy.

5. Data collection is a strenuous Work

Moving from door-to-door or visiting the participants in different locations is a tiresome activity that can be more intensive as the data piles up. The case study method requires researchers to have a high level of language skills to collect data successfully. Researchers must be personally involved with the participants in every aspect of data collection. From reviewing files or entries to conducting personal interviews, the concepts and themes of this process rely heavily on the amount of work each researcher is willing to put into the real world.

Conclusion:

These advantages and disadvantages of the case study are a useful way to evaluate this research method's effectiveness. Overcoming the negatives and honing the researcher's skills can help derive factual and accurate data on whether research is short or long.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of case study.

It converts client opinions into useable information. It transforms speculation into reality. It is essential for all concerned parties. It makes use of a variety of research methods. It may be done remotely and from anywhere in the world. It's cheap to run and straightforward to access to readers.

What is a disadvantage of a case study?

Observation bias exists in the information on exposure. They are susceptible to selection bias. They are inefficient for uncommon events. They do not allow the calculation of incidence (absolute risk).

What are the strengths of a study?

The advantages of survey research include its cost-effectiveness, generalizability, dependability, and versatility. Survey research has several flaws.

Why a case study is challenging?

The elements contributing to the case study's difficulty can be quickly determined by performing a deep strength and vulnerability analysis. The critical difficulties for case studies are generalization, validity, reliability, theory role, authority, authenticity, dependency, and longevity.

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Advantages & Disadvantages of Case Study Method of Data Collection

Advantages of case study method of data collection.

Following are the advantage of case study Method

  • Intensive Study. Case study method is responsible for intensive study of a unit. It is the investigation and exploration of an event thoroughly and deeply.
  • No Sampling. It studies a social unit in its entire perspectives. It means there is no sampling in case study method.
  • Continuous Analysis. It is valuable in analyzing continuously the life of a social unit to dig out the facts.
  • Hypothesis Formulation. This method is useful for formulation of hypothesis for further study.
  • Comparisons. It compares different type of facts about the study of a unity.
  • Increase in Knowledge. It gives the analytical power of a person to increase knowledge about a social phenomena.
  • Generalization of Data. Case study method provides grounds for generalization of data for illustrating statistical findings.
  • Comprehensive. It is a comprehensive method of data collection in social research.
  • Locate Deviant Cases. The deviant cases are these units which behave against the proposed hypothesis. So, it locate these deviant cases. The tendency is to ignore them but are important for scientific study.
  • Farming Questionnaire or Schedule. Through case study method we can formulate and develop a questionnaire and schedule.

Disadvantage of Case Study Method of Data Collection

Case study method has the following disadvantages

  • Limited Representatives. Due to as narrow focuses a case study has limited representatives and generalization is impossible.
  • No Classification. Any classification is not possible due to studying a small unit.
  • Possibility of Errors. Case study method may have the errors of memory and judgment.
  • Subjective Method. It is a subjective method rather than objective.
  • No Easy and Simple. This method is very difficult and no layman can conduct this method.
  • Bias Can Occur. Due to narrow study the discrimination & bias can occurs in the investigation of a social unit.
  • No Fixed Limits. This method is depend on situation and have no fixed limits of investigation of the researcher.
  • Costly and Time Consuming. This method is more costly and time consuming as compare to other methods of data collection.

Related Articles

Incremental Principle for Project Cash Flow with Example

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How AI Can Change the Way Your Company Gets Work Done

  • Marc Zao-Sanders

merits and demerits of case study

Using AI to help you carry out tasks better and faster can fuel new growth in your organization.

AI offers many ways to enhance a company’s overall internal capabilities and skills. AI can be used to infer skills from employee profiles and their activity. AI can be used to classify learning content and make it more applicable and accessible for the whole workforce, as well as making learning more personalized to each individual. AI can be used to summarize, recommend, and augment learning content. GenAI, in particular, can be used by the world’s billion knowledge workers to boost performance, right in the flow of work. Research shows that GenAI can get knowledge work done 25% faster and 40% better. This article covers several ways that corporations, teams, and individuals can drive internal growth by enhancing organizational capabilities. Early signs are that double-digit growth via GenAI is eminently possible.

Most growth models and strategies — such as the Ansoff Matrix and McKinsey’s 7S Framework — are focused on external expansion: Grow by launching new products, by entering new markets, and by doing both at once. Yet growth can also come from within, by developing internal  capability.

  • Marc Zao-Sanders is CEO and co-founder of filtered.com , which develops algorithmic technology to make sense of corporate skills and learning content. He’s the author of Timeboxing – The Power of Doing One Thing at a Time . Find Marc on LinkedIn or at www.marczaosanders.com .

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  • Applications
  • Case Studies and Reports
  • Pros and Cons
  • An Expert Opinion
  • Companies That Make Gen AI
  • Companies That Use Gen AI

The Bottom Line

Generative ai and its economic impact: what you need to know.

Experts urge caution as this powerful economic force is unleashed

merits and demerits of case study

Generative AI (Gen AI) is a type of artificial intelligence designed to generate content without human intervention, including text, images, and even music. This technology uses complex algorithms and machine learning models to memorize patterns and rules from existing data. It generates new content similar in style and structure.

Generating content based on cumulative data input makes Gen AI worthwhile in many industries. The speed with which this technology can create content can help employees develop more content in less time and work more efficiently. This can reduce the need for human labor, raising concerns about job displacement and income inequality .

Gen AI’s impact on consumption patterns has made it easier for companies to personalize their marketing and advertising efforts. This has led to a more targeted approach to advertising that can be beneficial but also problematic from a privacy perspective.

Key Takeaways

  • Generative AI (Gen AI) is artificial intelligence designed to generate content and computing without human intervention based on cumulative data.
  • Gen AI is being applied to numerous industries including healthcare, finance, transportation, manufacturing, entertainment, and retail.
  • Case studies and data have shown how Gen AI could add trillions to the global economy while displacing workers at all levels, creating a quandary for economists.
  • Interviews with economists and other experts reveal little consensus on the economic impact of Gen AI except that society must learn to deal with its inevitable rise.

Applications of Generative AI

Gen AI has increased accuracy and productivity and has lowered costs in various industries.

Gen AI is used to analyze medical images and assist doctors in making diagnoses in the healthcare industry. Up to 50% of all medical errors in primary care are administrative errors, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Gen AI has the potential to increase accuracy but the technology also comes with vulnerabilities. Its trustworthiness depends heavily on the quality of training datasets, according to the World Economic Forum .

The World Economic Forum anticipates a shortfall of 10 million healthcare workers by 2030. Gen AI is expected to help address this shortage through increased efficiency, allowing fewer workers to serve more patients.

AI algorithms detect fraud and identify investment opportunities in the financial industry . Generative AI has shown the potential to automate routine tasks, enhance risk mitigation, and optimize financial operations.

The use of Gen AI in finance is expected to increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by 7% or nearly $7 trillion. It should boost productivity growth by 1.5%, according to Goldman Sachs Research. Gen AI is a good fit with finance because its strength is dealing with vast amounts of data and this is precisely what finance relies on to function.

Transportation

Self-driving vehicles are powered by generative AI, enabling them to navigate roads and make real-time decisions. The applications of Gen AI in transportation include much more than that, however.

Artificial intelligence can solve many problems that humans can’t, such as traffic congestion, parking shortages, and long commutes. Gen AI is expected to play a role in improving the quality, safety, efficiency, and sustainability of future transportation systems that don't yet exist.

Manufacturing

Gen AI has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing with its ability to leverage vast amounts of data and predict outcomes. AI can significantly improve decision-making. It can optimize production, enhance product quality, and reduce waste.

Generative AI is improving operations and ensuring that employees are following the proper steps. It can also enhance performance visibility across business units by integrating disparate data sources.

Entertainment

Gen AI creates personalized recommendations for movies, TV shows, and music based on individual preferences in the entertainment industry. This technology can foster the same efficiency and accuracy that it does in other industries, making it a potential cost-saver for media companies.

However, generative AI’s ability to replace some of the work done by human writers, artists, photographers, and other creative professionals was part of the reason for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike that began in May 2023.

Optimizing inventory management and recommending products to customers based on their purchase history and browsing behavior is only part of the value of Gen AI in the retail industry. Generative AI can also help retailers increase sales and optimize operations.

Generative AI can help retailers with inventory management and customer service which are both cost concerns for store owners. It can also help retailers innovate, reduce spending, and focus on developing new products and systems.

Case Studies and Reports About AI

Numerous case studies and reports have pointed to AI’s impact on various industries, the economy, and the workforce.

A study by Accenture found that artificial intelligence could add $14 trillion to the global economy by 2035 with the most significant gains in China and North America. The study also predicted that AI could increase labor productivity by up to 40% in some industries.

Johns Hopkins Medicine System

A trial conducted at five Johns Hopkins Medicine System-affiliated healthcare facilities found that using AI algorithms to analyze medical images led to a 20% reduction in sepsis deaths in hospitals.

Sepsis occurs when the response to an infection spirals out of control. It's responsible for one out of three in-hospital deaths in the United States. About 1.7 million adults in the U.S. develop sepsis each year and about 350,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McKinsey & Company

A report by McKinsey & Company found that AI could automate up to 45% of the tasks performed by retail, hospitality, and healthcare workers. This could lead to job displacement but the report also noted that it doesn’t necessarily mean that AI will automate a job just because it can. Cost, regulations, and social acceptance can also be limiting factors.

World Economic Forum

A study by the World Economic Forum found that adopting AI could lead to a net increase in jobs in some industries , particularly those that require higher levels of education and skills. The report also warned that the benefits of AI could be unevenly distributed, however, with some workers and regions experiencing more significant job displacement than others.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Generative AI

Whether the benefits of generative AI outweigh the drawbacks isn't always clear. Consideration of both outcomes is imperative.

Increased Productivity vs. Required Technical Expertise

Pro : AI-powered machines and robots can perform repetitive tasks with greater accuracy and speed, increasing productivity and efficiency in various industries. This can lead to lower overall manufacturing costs and, eventually, lower inflation .

Con : Development and implementation of generative AI algorithms require significant technical expertise that may be challenging to find or afford for some businesses. Catching up and keeping up can become a real challenge for those left behind.

Implementation Cost Savings vs. Investment Costs

Pro : Gen AI can save business costs by reducing the need for human labor in certain areas. The need to hire fewer paid workers and the ability to replace them with unpaid machines can lower costs significantly.

Con : Adopting Gen AI requires a significant investment in technology and infrastructure and this may be prohibitively expensive for some businesses.

New Job Creation vs. Job Displacement

Pro : Gen AI may displace some jobs but new jobs may be created in fields such as data analysis and software development.

Con : Some workers may find themselves out of work or in lower-paying positions as Gen AI automates specific tasks. This could lead to increased economic hardship and social unrest.

Improved Decision Making vs. Bad Data and Bias

Pro : Gen AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and insights that humans may miss. This can lead to improved decision-making in various industries.

Con : Gen AI algorithms rely on vast amounts of data to learn and improve but it can lead to inaccurate or unfair outcomes if that data is biased or incomplete.

Personalization vs. Ethical Considerations

Pro : Gen AI-powered marketing and advertising can lead to more personalized messaging and product offerings, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Con : Gen AI raises critical ethical questions about privacy , bias, and accountability and they must be carefully considered and addressed.

Enhanced Safety vs. Regulatory and Legal Considerations

Pro : Gen AI-powered machines and robots can perform dangerous or hazardous tasks in industries such as transportation and manufacturing, improving workers’ safety.

Con : There may be a need for new regulations and legal frameworks to ensure that it's used responsibly and ethically as Gen AI becomes more pervasive in various industries.

The pros and cons of generative AI must be compared to determine whether the use of Gen AI is beneficial.

Generative AI Pros and Cons
Increased productivity vs. Required technical expertise
Cost savings vs. Cost of development
Job creation vs. Job displacement
Improved decision-making vs. Impact of poor data
Personalization vs. Ethical concerns
Enhanced safety vs. Legal considerations

Economic Impact of Gen AI: An Expert Opinion

Anton Korinek , Ph.D. is a professor of economics at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a nonresident fellow at The Brookings Institution, an economic think tank . Korinek sees productivity growth as the primary impact of Gen AI on the overall economy .

“This includes increasing the level of productivity through direct efficiency gains as well as accelerating the rate of innovation and future productivity growth,” Korinek says.

“The effect on the labor market will be more uncertain,” he adds. “In some sectors, there will almost certainly be job losses and downward wage pressures as Gen AI automates certain tasks. However, if the economy-wide productivity effects are strong enough, it could spur overall labor demand. The distributional impacts will depend on whether Gen AI primarily substitutes for or complements different types of workers.”

As for possible solutions to the labor issue, Korinek says, “ Economic policymakers will need to focus on facilitating the rollout and adoption of Gen AI throughout the economy to maximize the productivity benefits. They must also update policies around job training, social welfare, and taxes to help workers adjust to labor market disruptions.”

Korinek also suggests long-range planning. “Economic policymakers should stress-test existing institutions against a range of AI scenarios that may play out in coming decades, including the possibility of artificial general intelligence,” he says. “By that, I mean AI that can perform all intellectual tasks at human levels. We can no longer rule out such a scenario and must prepare our institutions and social insurance systems to ensure that the benefits of continued AI progress are broadly shared.”

Which Companies Make Generative AI?

The list of companies creating Gen AI technology is growing. Some of the more well-known names include:

  • Alphabet ( GOOGL and GOOG ) has developed several generative AI models, including Bard for natural language processing and Studio Bot for coding.
  • Hugging Face is a startup specializing in creating AI models for natural language processing, including GPT-2.
  • IBM ( IBM) has developed several AI models, including Watson for natural language processing and the IBM Research AI system for computer vision.
  • Microsoft ( MSFT ) has developed several AI models, including Copilot, a productivity assistant, and Azure AI Vision for computer vision.
  • NVIDIA ( NVDA ) is a technology company specializing in creating graphics processing units (GPUs) that power AI algorithms, including generative image and speech recognition models.
  • OpenAI is a research organization that develops advanced AI technologies, including generative models for natural language processing and computer vision. OpenAI released ChatGPT , one of the best-known chatbots, in November 2022.

Which Companies Are Using Generative AI?

The innovative uses and potential business upside is driving many companies to employ this technology in consumer-facing and internal tools. Some of the more well-known companies include:

  • Amazon ( AMZN ) uses generative AI in its recommendation engines and voice-activated assistant Alexa.
  • Google uses generative AI in its search engine and advertising products as well as in its voice recognition and natural language processing tools.
  • IBM ’s use of generative AI is primarily in its Watson platform.
  • Microsoft uses generative AI in its Azure cloud computing platform and in its Bing search engine.
  • Netflix ( NFLX ) uses generative AI in its recommendation engine that suggests movies and TV shows to users based on their viewing history and preferences.
  • Tesla ( TSLA ) uses generative AI in its self-driving cars that use AI-powered sensors and algorithms to navigate roads and make real-time decisions.

Will Generative AI Eliminate Jobs or Create Jobs?

Generative AI has the potential to automate certain tasks, displacing some workers, and it can also create new jobs and industries. The impact of AI on jobs is difficult to predict and will likely vary depending on the industry and the specific tasks involved.

Is Generative AI Biased?

Generative AI can be biased like any other system that relies on data. AI algorithms learn from the data they're trained on, and the algorithms can perpetuate those biases in their outputs if that data is biased or incomplete.

What Is Discriminative AI and How Is It Different From Gen AI?

Discriminative AI doesn't create new data as Gen AI does. It works with existing data to compare pools and predict outcomes based on it.

The adoption of generative AI is expected to significantly impact various industries and job markets including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, transportation, and finance. It's likely to lead to increased efficiency and productivity but it may also lead to job displacement for some workers.

Several studies and analyses have examined the impact of generative AI on the economy. Estimates range from $14 trillion to $15.7 trillion in economic contribution by 2030.

The potential economic benefits of generative AI include increased productivity, cost savings, new job creation, improved decision-making, personalization, and enhanced safety. There are also important questions about the distribution of those benefits, however, and the potential impact on workers and society.

World Health Organization. “ Technical Series on Safer Primary Care: Administrative Errors .” Page 5. Download PDF.

World Economic Forum. “ How Will Generative AI Impact Healthcare? ”

World Economic Forum. " Why Is There a Global Medical Recruitment and Retention Crisis? "

Deloitte. “ The Implications of Generative AI in Finance .” Pages 3–4.

Goldman Sachs. “ Generative AI Could Raise Global GDP by 7% .”

Stefanini Group. “ AI Transportation: Efficiency, Safety, and the Future .”

Forbes. “ Generative AI in Industrials .”

LeewayHertz. “ AI in Media and Entertainment: Use Cases, Benefits and Solution .”

The Associated Press. “ In Hollywood Writers’ Battle Against AI, Humans Win (for Now) .”

Accenture Newsroom. “ Accenture Report: Artificial Intelligence Has Potential to Increase Corporate Profitability in 16 Industries by an Average of 38 Percent by 2035 .”

Scientific American. “ Algorithm That Detects Sepsis Cut Deaths by Nearly 20 Percent .”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “ About Sepsis .”

McKinsey & Company. “ Where Machines Could Replace Humans—and Where They Can’t (Yet) ." Page 2.

World Economic Forum. “ Don’t Fear AI. It Will Lead to Long-Term Job Growth .”

Google AI. “ Generative AI Overview .”

Hugging Face. “ OpenAI GPT-2 .”

IBM. “ IBM Watson to watsonx .”

IBM Research. “ Computer Vision .”

The Official Microsoft Blog. “ Announcing Microsoft Copilot, Your Everyday AI Companion .”

Microsoft Azure. “ Azure AI Vision .”

NVIDIA. “ Generative AI Runs on NVIDIA .”

NVIDIA. “ NVIDIA Hopper Architecture .”

OpenAI. “ Pioneering Research on the Path to AGI .”

OpenAI. “ Introducing ChatGPT .”

About Amazon. “ Previewing the Future of Alexa .”

Google The Keyword. “ Supercharging Search with Generative AI .”

Google Cloud. “ From Insights to Robots, Speech AI Use Cases Have Exploded .”

Microsoft Azure. “ Azure OpenAI Service .”

Microsoft Edge. “ Introducing the New Bing. The AI-Powered Assistant for Your Search .”

Netflix Research. “ Machine Learning .”

Netflix Research. “ Recommendations .”

Tesla. “ AI & Robotics .”

PwC. “ Understanding Algorithmic Bias and How to Build Trust in AI .”

Sinfa Consulting. " Discriminative AI vs. Generative AI: The Battle of the Models ."

PwC. “ Sizing the Prize: PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting the AI Revolution .”

merits and demerits of case study

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  • Published: 02 May 2024

Effectiveness of social media-assisted course on learning self-efficacy

  • Jiaying Hu 1 ,
  • Yicheng Lai 2 &
  • Xiuhua Yi 3  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  10112 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Human behaviour

The social media platform and the information dissemination revolution have changed the thinking, needs, and methods of students, bringing development opportunities and challenges to higher education. This paper introduces social media into the classroom and uses quantitative analysis to investigate the relation between design college students’ learning self-efficacy and social media for design students, aiming to determine the effectiveness of social media platforms on self-efficacy. This study is conducted on university students in design media courses and is quasi-experimental, using a randomized pre-test and post-test control group design. The study participants are 73 second-year design undergraduates. Independent samples t-tests showed that the network interaction factors of social media had a significant impact on college students learning self-efficacy. The use of social media has a significant positive predictive effect on all dimensions of learning self-efficacy. Our analysis suggests that using the advantages and value of online social platforms, weakening the disadvantages of the network, scientifically using online learning resources, and combining traditional classrooms with the Internet can improve students' learning self-efficacy.

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Introduction.

Social media is a way of sharing information, ideas, and opinions with others one. It can be used to create relationships between people and businesses. Social media has changed the communication way, it’s no longer just about talking face to face but also using a digital platform such as Facebook or Twitter. Today, social media is becoming increasingly popular in everyone's lives, including students and researchers 1 . Social media provides many opportunities for learners to publish their work globally, bringing many benefits to teaching and learning. The publication of students' work online has led to a more positive attitude towards learning and increased achievement and motivation. Other studies report that student online publications or work promote reflection on personal growth and development and provide opportunities for students to imagine more clearly the purpose of their work 2 . In addition, learning environments that include student publications allow students to examine issues differently, create new connections, and ultimately form new entities that can be shared globally 3 , 4 .

Learning self-efficacy is a belief that you can learn something new. It comes from the Latin word “self” and “efficax” which means efficient or effective. Self-efficacy is based on your beliefs about yourself, how capable you are to learn something new, and your ability to use what you have learned in real-life situations. This concept was first introduced by Bandura (1977), who studied the effects of social reinforcement on children’s learning behavior. He found that when children were rewarded for their efforts they would persist longer at tasks that they did not like or had low interest in doing. Social media, a ubiquitous force in today's digital age, has revolutionized the way people interact and share information. With the rise of social media platforms, individuals now have access to a wealth of online resources that can enhance their learning capabilities. This access to information and communication has also reshaped the way students approach their studies, potentially impacting their learning self-efficacy. Understanding the role of social media in shaping students' learning self-efficacy is crucial in providing effective educational strategies that promote healthy learning and development 5 . Unfortunately, the learning curve for the associated metadata base modeling methodologies and their corresponding computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools have made it difficult for students to grasp. Addressing this learning issue examined the effect of this MLS on the self-efficacy of learning these topics 6 . Bates et al. 7 hypothesize a mediated model in which a set of antecedent variables influenced students’ online learning self-efficacy which, in turn, affected student outcome expectations, mastery perceptions, and the hours spent per week using online learning technology to complete learning assignments for university courses. Shen et al. 8 through exploratory factor analysis identifies five dimensions of online learning self-efficacy: (a) self-efficacy to complete an online course (b) self-efficacy to interact socially with classmates (c) self-efficacy to handle tools in a Course Management System (CMS) (d) self-efficacy to interact with instructors in an online course, and (e) self-efficacy to interact with classmates for academic purposes. Chiu 9 established a model for analyzing the mediating effect that learning self-efficacy and social self-efficacy have on the relationship between university students’ perceived life stress and smartphone addiction. Kim et al. 10 study was conducted to examine the influence of learning efficacy on nursing students' self-confidence. The objective of Paciello et al. 11 was to identify self-efficacy configurations in different domains (i.e., emotional, social, and self-regulated learning) in a sample of university students using a person-centered approach. The role of university students’ various conceptions of learning in their academic self-efficacy in the domain of physics is initially explored 12 . Kumar et al. 13 investigated factors predicting students’ behavioral intentions towards the continuous use of mobile learning. Other influential work includes 14 .

Many studies have focused on social networking tools such as Facebook and MySpace 15 , 16 . Teachers are concerned that the setup and use of social media apps take up too much of their time, may have plagiarism and privacy issues, and contribute little to actual student learning outcomes; they often consider them redundant or simply not conducive to better learning outcomes 17 . Cao et al. 18 proposed that the central questions in addressing the positive and negative pitfalls of social media on teaching and learning are whether the use of social media in teaching and learning enhances educational effectiveness, and what motivates university teachers to use social media in teaching and learning. Maloney et al. 3 argued that social media can further improve the higher education teaching and learning environment, where students no longer access social media to access course information. Many studies in the past have shown that the use of modern IT in the classroom has increased over the past few years; however, it is still limited mainly to content-driven use, such as accessing course materials, so with the emergence of social media in students’ everyday lives 2 , we need to focus on developing students’ learning self-efficacy so that they can This will enable students to 'turn the tables and learn to learn on their own. Learning self-efficacy is considered an important concept that has a powerful impact on learning outcomes 19 , 20 .

Self-efficacy for learning is vital in teaching students to learn and develop healthily and increasing students' beliefs in the learning process 21 . However, previous studies on social media platforms such as Twitter and Weibo as curriculum support tools have not been further substantiated or analyzed in detail. In addition, the relationship between social media, higher education, and learning self-efficacy has not yet been fully explored by researchers in China. Our research aims to fill this gap in the topic. Our study explored the impact of social media on the learning self-efficacy of Chinese college students. Therefore, it is essential to explore the impact of teachers' use of social media to support teaching and learning on students' learning self-efficacy. Based on educational theory and methodological practice, this study designed a teaching experiment using social media to promote learning self-efficacy by posting an assignment for post-course work on online media to explore the actual impact of social media on university students’ learning self-efficacy. This study examines the impact of a social media-assisted course on university students' learning self-efficacy to explore the positive impact of a social media-assisted course.

Theoretical background

  • Social media

Social media has different definitions. Mayfield (2013) first introduced the concept of social media in his book-what is social media? The author summarized the six characteristics of social media: openness, participation, dialogue, communication, interaction, and communication. Mayfield 22 shows that social media is a kind of new media. Its uniqueness is that it can give users great space and freedom to participate in the communication process. Jen (2020) also suggested that the distinguishing feature of social media is that it is “aggregated”. Social media provides users with an interactive service to control their data and information and collaborate and share information 2 . Social media offers opportunities for students to build knowledge and helps them actively create and share information 23 . Millennial students are entering higher education institutions and are accustomed to accessing and using data from the Internet. These individuals go online daily for educational or recreational purposes. Social media is becoming increasingly popular in the lives of everyone, including students and researchers 1 . A previous study has shown that millennials use the Internet as their first source of information and Google as their first choice for finding educational and personal information 24 . Similarly, many institutions encourage teachers to adopt social media applications 25 . Faculty members have also embraced social media applications for personal, professional, and pedagogical purposes 17 .

Social networks allow one to create a personal profile and build various networks that connect him/her to family, friends, and other colleagues. Users use these sites to stay in touch with their friends, make plans, make new friends, or connect with someone online. Therefore, extending this concept, these sites can establish academic connections or promote cooperation and collaboration in higher education classrooms 2 . This study defines social media as an interactive community of users' information sharing and social activities built on the technology of the Internet. Because the concept of social media is broad, its connotations are consistent. Research shows that Meaning and Linking are the two key elements that make up social media existence. Users and individual media outlets generate social media content and use it as a platform to get it out there. Social media distribution is based on social relationships and has a better platform for personal information and relationship management systems. Examples of social media applications include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Skype, Wiki, blogs, Delicious, Second Life, open online course sites, SMS, online games, mobile applications, and more 18 . Ajjan and Hartshorne 2 investigated the intentions of 136 faculty members at a US university to adopt Web 2.0 technologies as tools in their courses. They found that integrating Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom learning environment effectively increased student satisfaction with the course and improved their learning and writing skills. His research focused on improving the perceived usefulness, ease of use, compatibility of Web 2.0 applications, and instructor self-efficacy. The social computing impact of formal education and training and informal learning communities suggested that learning web 2.0 helps users to acquire critical competencies, and promotes technological, pedagogical, and organizational innovation, arguing that social media has a variety of learning content 26 . Users can post digital content online, enabling learners to tap into tacit knowledge while supporting collaboration between learners and teachers. Cao and Hong 27 investigated the antecedents and consequences of social media use in teaching among 249 full-time and part-time faculty members, who reported that the factors for using social media in teaching included personal social media engagement and readiness, external pressures; expected benefits; and perceived risks. The types of Innovators, Early adopters, Early majority, Late majority, Laggards, and objectors. Cao et al. 18 studied the educational effectiveness of 168 teachers' use of social media in university teaching. Their findings suggest that social media use has a positive impact on student learning outcomes and satisfaction. Their research model provides educators with ideas on using social media in the education classroom to improve student performance. Maqableh et al. 28 investigated the use of social networking sites by 366 undergraduate students, and they found that weekly use of social networking sites had a significant impact on student's academic performance and that using social networking sites had a significant impact on improving students' effective time management, and awareness of multitasking. All of the above studies indicate the researcher’s research on social media aids in teaching and learning. All of these studies indicate the positive impact of social media on teaching and learning.

  • Learning self-efficacy

For the definition of concepts related to learning self-efficacy, scholars have mainly drawn on the idea proposed by Bandura 29 that defines self-efficacy as “the degree to which people feel confident in their ability to use the skills they possess to perform a task”. Self-efficacy is an assessment of a learner’s confidence in his or her ability to use the skills he or she possesses to complete a learning task and is a subjective judgment and feeling about the individual’s ability to control his or her learning behavior and performance 30 . Liu 31 has defined self-efficacy as the belief’s individuals hold about their motivation to act, cognitive ability, and ability to perform to achieve their goals, showing the individual's evaluation and judgment of their abilities. Zhang (2015) showed that learning efficacy is regarded as the degree of belief and confidence that expresses the success of learning. Yan 32 showed the extent to which learning self-efficacy is viewed as an individual. Pan 33 suggested that learning self-efficacy in an online learning environment is a belief that reflects the learner's ability to succeed in the online learning process. Kang 34 believed that learning self-efficacy is the learner's confidence and belief in his or her ability to complete a learning task. Huang 35 considered self-efficacy as an individual’s self-assessment of his or her ability to complete a particular task or perform a specific behavior and the degree of confidence in one’s ability to achieve a specific goal. Kong 36 defined learning self-efficacy as an individual’s judgment of one’s ability to complete academic tasks.

Based on the above analysis, we found that scholars' focus on learning self-efficacy is on learning behavioral efficacy and learning ability efficacy, so this study divides learning self-efficacy into learning behavioral efficacy and learning ability efficacy for further analysis and research 37 , 38 . Search the CNKI database and ProQuest Dissertations for keywords such as “design students’ learning self-efficacy”, “design classroom self-efficacy”, “design learning self-efficacy”, and other keywords. There are few relevant pieces of literature about design majors. Qiu 39 showed that mobile learning-assisted classroom teaching can control the source of self-efficacy from many aspects, thereby improving students’ sense of learning efficacy and helping middle and lower-level students improve their sense of learning efficacy from all dimensions. Yin and Xu 40 argued that the three elements of the network environment—“learning content”, “learning support”, and “social structure of learning”—all have an impact on university students’ learning self-efficacy. Duo et al. 41 recommend that learning activities based on the mobile network learning community increase the trust between students and the sense of belonging in the learning community, promote mutual communication and collaboration between students, and encourage each other to stimulate their learning motivation. In the context of social media applications, self-efficacy refers to the level of confidence that teachers can successfully use social media applications in the classroom 18 . Researchers have found that self-efficacy is related to social media applications 42 . Students had positive experiences with social media applications through content enhancement, creativity experiences, connectivity enrichment, and collaborative engagement 26 . Students who wish to communicate with their tutors in real-time find social media tools such as web pages, blogs, and virtual interactions very satisfying 27 . Overall, students report their enjoyment of different learning processes through social media applications; simultaneously, they show satisfactory tangible achievement of tangible learning outcomes 18 . According to Bandura's 'triadic interaction theory’, Bian 43 and Shi 44 divided learning self-efficacy into two main elements, basic competence, and control, where basic competence includes the individual's sense of effort, competence, the individual sense of the environment, and the individual's sense of control over behavior. The primary sense of competence includes the individual's Sense of effort, competence, environment, and control over behavior. In this study, learning self-efficacy is divided into Learning behavioral efficacy and Learning ability efficacy. Learning behavioral efficacy includes individuals' sense of effort, environment, and control; learning ability efficacy includes individuals' sense of ability, belief, and interest.

In Fig.  1 , learning self-efficacy includes learning behavior efficacy and learning ability efficacy, in which the learning behavior efficacy is determined by the sense of effort, the sense of environment, the sense of control, and the learning ability efficacy is determined by the sense of ability, sense of belief, sense of interest. “Sense of effort” is the understanding of whether one can study hard. Self-efficacy includes the estimation of self-effort and the ability, adaptability, and creativity shown in a particular situation. One with a strong sense of learning self-efficacy thinks they can study hard and focus on tasks 44 . “Sense of environment” refers to the individual’s feeling of their learning environment and grasp of the environment. The individual is the creator of the environment. A person’s feeling and grasp of the environment reflect the strength of his sense of efficacy to some extent. A person with a shared sense of learning self-efficacy is often dissatisfied with his environment, but he cannot do anything about it. He thinks the environment can only dominate him. A person with a high sense of learning self-efficacy will be more satisfied with his school and think that his teachers like him and are willing to study in school 44 . “Sense of control” is an individual’s sense of control over learning activities and learning behavior. It includes the arrangement of individual learning time, whether they can control themselves from external interference, and so on. A person with a strong sense of self-efficacy will feel that he is the master of action and can control the behavior and results of learning. Such a person actively participates in various learning activities. When he encounters difficulties in learning, he thinks he can find a way to solve them, is not easy to be disturbed by the outside world, and can arrange his own learning time. The opposite is the sense of losing control of learning behavior 44 . “Sense of ability” includes an individual’s perception of their natural abilities, expectations of learning outcomes, and perception of achieving their learning goals. A person with a high sense of learning self-efficacy will believe that he or she is brighter and more capable in all areas of learning; that he or she is more confident in learning in all subjects. In contrast, people with low learning self-efficacy have a sense of powerlessness. They are self-doubters who often feel overwhelmed by their learning and are less confident that they can achieve the appropriate learning goals 44 . “Sense of belief” is when an individual knows why he or she is doing something, knows where he or she is going to learn, and does not think before he or she even does it: What if I fail? These are meaningless, useless questions. A person with a high sense of learning self-efficacy is more robust, less afraid of difficulties, and more likely to reach their learning goals. A person with a shared sense of learning self-efficacy, on the other hand, is always going with the flow and is uncertain about the outcome of their learning, causing them to fall behind. “Sense of interest” is a person's tendency to recognize and study the psychological characteristics of acquiring specific knowledge. It is an internal force that can promote people's knowledge and learning. It refers to a person's positive cognitive tendency and emotional state of learning. A person with a high sense of self-efficacy in learning will continue to concentrate on studying and studying, thereby improving learning. However, one with low learning self-efficacy will have psychology such as not being proactive about learning, lacking passion for learning, and being impatient with learning. The elements of learning self-efficacy can be quantified and detailed in the following Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Learning self-efficacy research structure in this paper.

Research participants

All the procedures were conducted in adherence to the guidelines and regulations set by the institution. Prior to initiating the study, informed consent was obtained in writing from the participants, and the Institutional Review Board for Behavioral and Human Movement Sciences at Nanning Normal University granted approval for all protocols.

Two parallel classes are pre-selected as experimental subjects in our study, one as the experimental group and one as the control group. Social media assisted classroom teaching to intervene in the experimental group, while the control group did not intervene. When selecting the sample, it is essential to consider, as far as possible, the shortcomings of not using randomization to select or assign the study participants, resulting in unequal experimental and control groups. When selecting the experimental subjects, classes with no significant differences in initial status and external conditions, i.e. groups with homogeneity, should be selected. Our study finally decided to select a total of 44 students from Class 2021 Design 1 and a total of 29 students from Class 2021 Design 2, a total of 74 students from Nanning Normal University, as the experimental subjects. The former served as the experimental group, and the latter served as the control group. 73 questionnaires are distributed to measure before the experiment, and 68 are returned, with a return rate of 93.15%. According to the statistics, there were 8 male students and 34 female students in the experimental group, making a total of 44 students (mirrors the demographic trends within the humanities and arts disciplines from which our sample was drawn); there are 10 male students and 16 female students in the control group, making a total of 26 students, making a total of 68 students in both groups. The sample of those who took the course were mainly sophomores, with a small number of first-year students and juniors, which may be related to the nature of the subject of this course and the course system offered by the university. From the analysis of students' majors, liberal arts students in the experimental group accounted for the majority, science students and art students accounted for a small part. In contrast, the control group had more art students, and liberal arts students and science students were small. In the daily self-study time, the experimental and control groups are 2–3 h. The demographic information of research participants is shown in Table 1 .

Research procedure

Firstly, the ADDIE model is used for the innovative design of the teaching method of the course. The number of students in the experimental group was 44, 8 male and 35 females; the number of students in the control group was 29, 10 male and 19 females. Secondly, the classes are targeted at students and applied. Thirdly, the course for both the experimental and control classes is a convenient and practice-oriented course, with the course title “Graphic Design and Production”, which focuses on learning the graphic design software Photoshop. The course uses different cases to explain in detail the process and techniques used to produce these cases using Photoshop, and incorporates practical experience as well as relevant knowledge in the process, striving to achieve precise and accurate operational steps; at the end of the class, the teacher assigns online assignments to be completed on social media, allowing students to post their edited software tutorials online so that students can master the software functions. The teacher assigns online assignments to be completed on social media at the end of the lesson, allowing students to post their editing software tutorials online so that they can master the software functions and production skills, inspire design inspiration, develop design ideas and improve their design skills, and improve students' learning self-efficacy through group collaboration and online interaction. Fourthly, pre-tests and post-tests are conducted in the experimental and control classes before the experiment. Fifthly, experimental data are collected, analyzed, and summarized.

We use a questionnaire survey to collect data. Self-efficacy is a person’s subjective judgment on whether one can successfully perform a particular achievement. American psychologist Albert Bandura first proposed it. To understand the improvement effect of students’ self-efficacy after the experimental intervention, this work questionnaire was referenced by the author from “Self-efficacy” “General Perceived Self Efficacy Scale” (General Perceived Self Efficacy Scale) German psychologist Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) and “Academic Self-Efficacy Questionnaire”, a well-known Chinese scholar Liang 45 .  The questionnaire content is detailed in the supplementary information . A pre-survey of the questionnaire is conducted here. The second-year students of design majors collected 32 questionnaires, eliminated similar questions based on the data, and compiled them into a formal survey scale. The scale consists of 54 items, 4 questions about basic personal information, and 50 questions about learning self-efficacy. The Likert five-point scale is the questionnaire used in this study. The answers are divided into “completely inconsistent", “relatively inconsistent”, “unsure”, and “relatively consistent”. The five options of “Completely Meet” and “Compliant” will count as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 points, respectively. Divided into a sense of ability (Q5–Q14), a sense of effort (Q15–Q20), a sense of environment (Q21–Q28), a sense of control (Q29–Q36), a sense of Interest (Q37–Q45), a sense of belief (Q46–Q54). To demonstrate the scientific effectiveness of the experiment, and to further control the influence of confounding factors on the experimental intervention. This article thus sets up a control group as a reference. Through the pre-test and post-test in different periods, comparison of experimental data through pre-and post-tests to illustrate the effects of the intervention.

Reliability indicates the consistency of the results of a measurement scale (See Table 2 ). It consists of intrinsic and extrinsic reliability, of which intrinsic reliability is essential. Using an internal consistency reliability test scale, a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of reliability statistics greater than or equal to 0.9 indicates that the scale has good reliability, 0.8–0.9 indicates good reliability, 7–0.8 items are acceptable. Less than 0.7 means to discard some items in the scale 46 . This study conducted a reliability analysis on the effects of the related 6-dimensional pre-test survey to illustrate the reliability of the questionnaire.

From the Table 2 , the Cronbach alpha coefficients for the pre-test, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, sense of belief, and the total questionnaire, were 0.919, 0.839, 0.848, 0.865, 0.852, 0.889 and 0.958 respectively. The post-test Cronbach alpha coefficients were 0.898, 0.888, 0.886, 0.889, 0.900, 0.893 and 0.970 respectively. The Cronbach alpha coefficients were all greater than 0.8, indicating a high degree of reliability of the measurement data.

The validity, also known as accuracy, reflects how close the measurement result is to the “true value”. Validity includes structure validity, content validity, convergent validity, and discriminative validity. Because the experiment is a small sample study, we cannot do any specific factorization. KMO and Bartlett sphericity test values are an important part of structural validity. Indicator, general validity evaluation (KMO value above 0.9, indicating very good validity; 0.8–0.9, indicating good validity; 0.7–0.8 validity is good; 0.6–0.7 validity is acceptable; 0.5–0.6 means poor validity; below 0.45 means that some items should be abandoned.

Table 3 shows that the KMO values of ability, effort, environment, control, interest, belief, and the total questionnaire are 0.911, 0.812, 0.778, 0.825, 0.779, 0.850, 0.613, and the KMO values of the post-test are respectively. The KMO values are 0.887, 0.775, 0.892, 0.868, 0.862, 0.883, 0.715. KMO values are basically above 0.8, and all are greater than 0.6. This result indicates that the validity is acceptable, the scale has a high degree of reasonableness, and the valid data.

In the graphic design and production (professional design course), we will learn the practical software with cases. After class, we will share knowledge on the self-media platform. We will give face-to-face computer instruction offline from 8:00 to 11:20 every Wednesday morning for 16 weeks. China's top online sharing platform (APP) is Tik Tok, micro-blog (Micro Blog) and Xiao hong shu. The experiment began on September 1, 2022, and conducted the pre-questionnaire survey simultaneously. At the end of the course, on January 6, 2023, the post questionnaire survey was conducted. A total of 74 questionnaires were distributed in this study, recovered 74 questionnaires. After excluding the invalid questionnaires with incomplete filling and wrong answers, 68 valid questionnaires were obtained, with an effective rate of 91%, meeting the test requirements. Then, use the social science analysis software SPSS Statistics 26 to analyze the data: (1) descriptive statistical analysis of the dimensions of learning self-efficacy; (2) Using correlation test to analyze the correlation between learning self-efficacy and the use of social media; (3) This study used a comparative analysis of group differences to detect the influence of learning self-efficacy on various dimensions of social media and design courses. For data processing and analysis, use the spss26 version software and frequency statistics to create statistics on the basic situation of the research object and the basic situation of the use of live broadcast. The reliability scale analysis (internal consistency test) and use Bartlett's sphericity test to illustrate the reliability and validity of the questionnaire and the individual differences between the control group and the experimental group in demographic variables (gender, grade, Major, self-study time per day) are explained by cross-analysis (chi-square test). In the experimental group and the control group, the pre-test, post-test, before-and-after test of the experimental group and the control group adopt independent sample T-test and paired sample T-test to illustrate the effect of the experimental intervention (The significance level of the test is 0.05 two-sided).

Results and discussion

Comparison of pre-test and post-test between groups.

To study whether the data of the experimental group and the control group are significantly different in the pre-test and post-test mean of sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. The research for this situation uses an independent sample T-test and an independent sample. The test needs to meet some false parameters, such as normality requirements. Generally passing the normality test index requirements are relatively strict, so it can be relaxed to obey an approximately normal distribution. If there is serious skewness distribution, replace it with the nonparametric test. Variables are required to be continuous variables. The six variables in this study define continuous variables. The variable value information is independent of each other. Therefore, we use the independent sample T-test.

From the Table 4 , a pre-test found that there was no statistically significant difference between the experimental group and the control group at the 0.05 confidence level ( p  > 0.05) for perceptions of sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. Before the experiment, the two groups of test groups have the same quality in measuring self-efficacy. The experimental class and the control class are homogeneous groups. Table 5 shows the independent samples t-test for the post-test, used to compare the experimental and control groups on six items, including the sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief.

The experimental and control groups have statistically significant scores ( p  < 0.05) for sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief, and the experimental and control groups have statistically significant scores (t = 3.177, p  = 0.002) for a sense of competence. (t = 3.177, p  = 0.002) at the 0.01 level, with the experimental group scoring significantly higher (3.91 ± 0.51) than the control group (3.43 ± 0.73). The experimental group and the control group showed significance for the perception of effort at the 0.01 confidence level (t = 2.911, p  = 0.005), with the experimental group scoring significantly higher (3.88 ± 0.66) than the control group scoring significantly higher (3.31 ± 0.94). The experimental and control groups show significance at the 0.05 level (t = 2.451, p  = 0.017) for the sense of environment, with the experimental group scoring significantly higher (3.95 ± 0.61) than the control group scoring significantly higher (3.58 ± 0.62). The experimental and control groups showed significance for sense of control at the 0.05 level of significance (t = 2.524, p  = 0.014), and the score for the experimental group (3.76 ± 0.67) would be significantly higher than the score for the control group (3.31 ± 0.78). The experimental and control groups showed significance at the 0.01 level for sense of interest (t = 2.842, p  = 0.006), and the experimental group's score (3.87 ± 0.61) would be significantly higher than the control group's score (3.39 ± 0.77). The experimental and control groups showed significance at the 0.01 level for the sense of belief (t = 3.377, p  = 0.001), and the experimental group would have scored significantly higher (4.04 ± 0.52) than the control group (3.56 ± 0.65). Therefore, we can conclude that the experimental group's post-test significantly affects the mean scores of sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. A social media-assisted course has a positive impact on students' self-efficacy.

Comparison of pre-test and post-test of each group

The paired-sample T-test is an extension of the single-sample T-test. The purpose is to explore whether the means of related (paired) groups are significantly different. There are four standard paired designs: (1) Before and after treatment of the same subject Data, (2) Data from two different parts of the same subject, (3) Test results of the same sample with two methods or instruments, 4. Two matched subjects receive two treatments, respectively. This study belongs to the first type, the 6 learning self-efficacy dimensions of the experimental group and the control group is measured before and after different periods.

Paired t-tests is used to analyze whether there is a significant improvement in the learning self-efficacy dimension in the experimental group after the experimental social media-assisted course intervention. In Table 6 , we can see that the six paired data groups showed significant differences ( p  < 0.05) in the pre and post-tests of sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. There is a level of significance of 0.01 (t = − 4.540, p  = 0.000 < 0.05) before and after the sense of ability, the score after the sense of ability (3.91 ± 0.51), and the score before the Sense of ability (3.41 ± 0.55). The level of significance between the pre-test and post-test of sense of effort is 0.01 (t = − 4.002, p  = 0.000). The score of the sense of effort post-test (3.88 ± 0.66) will be significantly higher than the average score of the sense of effort pre-test (3.31 ± 0.659). The significance level between the pre-test and post-test Sense of environment is 0.01 (t = − 3.897, p  = 0.000). The average score for post- Sense of environment (3.95 ± 0.61) will be significantly higher than that of sense of environment—the average score of the previous test (3.47 ± 0.44). The average value of a post- sense of control (3.76 ± 0.67) will be significantly higher than the average of the front side of the Sense of control value (3.27 ± 0.52). The sense of interest pre-test and post-test showed a significance level of 0.01 (− 4.765, p  = 0.000), and the average value of Sense of interest post-test was 3.87 ± 0.61. It would be significantly higher than the average value of the Sense of interest (3.25 ± 0.59), the significance between the pre-test and post-test of belief sensing is 0.01 level (t = − 3.939, p  = 0.000). Thus, the average value of a post-sense of belief (4.04 ± 0.52) will be significantly higher than that of a pre-sense of belief Average value (3.58 ± 0.58). After the experimental group’s post-test, the scores for the Sense of ability, effort, environment, control, interest, and belief before the comparison experiment increased significantly. This result has a significant improvement effect. Table 7 shows that the control group did not show any differences in the pre and post-tests using paired t-tests on the dimensions of learning self-efficacy such as sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief ( p  > 0.05). It shows no experimental intervention for the control group, and it does not produce a significant effect.

The purpose of this study aims to explore the impact of social media use on college students' learning self-efficacy, examine the changes in the elements of college students' learning self-efficacy before and after the experiment, and make an empirical study to enrich the theory. This study developed an innovative design for course teaching methods using the ADDIE model. The design process followed a series of model rules of analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, as well as conducted a descriptive statistical analysis of the learning self-efficacy of design undergraduates. Using questionnaires and data analysis, the correlation between the various dimensions of learning self-efficacy is tested. We also examined the correlation between the two factors, and verifies whether there was a causal relationship between the two factors.

Based on prior research and the results of existing practice, a learning self-efficacy is developed for university students and tested its reliability and validity. The scale is used to pre-test the self-efficacy levels of the two subjects before the experiment, and a post-test of the self-efficacy of the two groups is conducted. By measuring and investigating the learning self-efficacy of the study participants before the experiment, this study determined that there was no significant difference between the experimental group and the control group in terms of sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. Before the experiment, the two test groups had homogeneity in measuring the dimensionality of learning self-efficacy. During the experiment, this study intervened in social media assignments for the experimental group. The experiment used learning methods such as network assignments, mutual aid communication, mutual evaluation of assignments, and group discussions. After the experiment, the data analysis showed an increase in learning self-efficacy in the experimental group compared to the pre-test. With the test time increased, the learning self-efficacy level of the control group decreased slightly. It shows that social media can promote learning self-efficacy to a certain extent. This conclusion is similar to Cao et al. 18 , who suggested that social media would improve educational outcomes.

We have examined the differences between the experimental and control group post-tests on six items, including the sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest, and sense of belief. This result proves that a social media-assisted course has a positive impact on students' learning self-efficacy. Compared with the control group, students in the experimental group had a higher interest in their major. They showed that they liked to share their learning experiences and solve difficulties in their studies after class. They had higher motivation and self-directed learning ability after class than students in the control group. In terms of a sense of environment, students in the experimental group were more willing to share their learning with others, speak boldly, and participate in the environment than students in the control group.

The experimental results of this study showed that the experimental group showed significant improvement in the learning self-efficacy dimensions after the experimental intervention in the social media-assisted classroom, with significant increases in the sense of ability, sense of effort, sense of environment, sense of control, sense of interest and sense of belief compared to the pre-experimental scores. This result had a significant improvement effect. Evidence that a social media-assisted course has a positive impact on students' learning self-efficacy. Most of the students recognized the impact of social media on their learning self-efficacy, such as encouragement from peers, help from teachers, attention from online friends, and recognition of their achievements, so that they can gain a sense of achievement that they do not have in the classroom, which stimulates their positive perception of learning and is more conducive to the awakening of positive effects. This phenomenon is in line with Ajjan and Hartshorne 2 . They argue that social media provides many opportunities for learners to publish their work globally, which brings many benefits to teaching and learning. The publication of students' works online led to similar positive attitudes towards learning and improved grades and motivation. This study also found that students in the experimental group in the post-test controlled their behavior, became more interested in learning, became more purposeful, had more faith in their learning abilities, and believed that their efforts would be rewarded. This result is also in line with Ajjan and Hartshorne's (2008) indication that integrating Web 2.0 technologies into classroom learning environments can effectively increase students' satisfaction with the course and improve their learning and writing skills.

We only selected students from one university to conduct a survey, and the survey subjects were self-selected. Therefore, the external validity and generalizability of our study may be limited. Despite the limitations, we believe this study has important implications for researchers and educators. The use of social media is the focus of many studies that aim to assess the impact and potential of social media in learning and teaching environments. We hope that this study will help lay the groundwork for future research on the outcomes of social media utilization. In addition, future research should further examine university support in encouraging teachers to begin using social media and university classrooms in supporting social media (supplementary file 1 ).

The present study has provided preliminary evidence on the positive association between social media integration in education and increased learning self-efficacy among college students. However, several avenues for future research can be identified to extend our understanding of this relationship.

Firstly, replication studies with larger and more diverse samples are needed to validate our findings across different educational contexts and cultural backgrounds. This would enhance the generalizability of our results and provide a more robust foundation for the use of social media in teaching. Secondly, longitudinal investigations should be conducted to explore the sustained effects of social media use on learning self-efficacy. Such studies would offer insights into how the observed benefits evolve over time and whether they lead to improved academic performance or other relevant outcomes. Furthermore, future research should consider the exploration of potential moderators such as individual differences in students' learning styles, prior social media experience, and psychological factors that may influence the effectiveness of social media in education. Additionally, as social media platforms continue to evolve rapidly, it is crucial to assess the impact of emerging features and trends on learning self-efficacy. This includes an examination of advanced tools like virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence that are increasingly being integrated into social media environments. Lastly, there is a need for research exploring the development and evaluation of instructional models that effectively combine traditional teaching methods with innovative uses of social media. This could guide educators in designing courses that maximize the benefits of social media while minimizing potential drawbacks.

In conclusion, the current study marks an important step in recognizing the potential of social media as an educational tool. Through continued research, we can further unpack the mechanisms by which social media can enhance learning self-efficacy and inform the development of effective educational strategies in the digital age.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the 2023 Guangxi University Young and middle-aged Teachers' Basic Research Ability Enhancement Project—“Research on Innovative Communication Strategies and Effects of Zhuang Traditional Crafts from the Perspective of the Metaverse” (Grant Nos. 2023KY0385), and the special project on innovation and entrepreneurship education in universities under the “14th Five-Year Plan” for Guangxi Education Science in 2023, titled “One Core, Two Directions, Three Integrations - Strategy and Practical Research on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education in Local Universities” (Grant Nos. 2023ZJY1955), and the 2023 Guangxi Higher Education Undergraduate Teaching Reform General Project (Category B) “Research on the Construction and Development of PBL Teaching Model in Advertising” (Grant Nos.2023JGB294), and the 2022 Guangxi Higher Education Undergraduate Teaching Reform Project (General Category A) “Exploration and Practical Research on Public Art Design Courses in Colleges and Universities under Great Aesthetic Education” (Grant Nos. 2022JGA251), and the 2023 Guangxi Higher Education Undergraduate Teaching Reform Project Key Project “Research and Practice on the Training of Interdisciplinary Composite Talents in Design Majors Based on the Concept of Specialization and Integration—Taking Guangxi Institute of Traditional Crafts as an Example” (Grant Nos. 2023JGZ147), and the2024 Nanning Normal University Undergraduate Teaching Reform Project “Research and Practice on the Application of “Guangxi Intangible Cultural Heritage” in Packaging Design Courses from the Ideological and Political Perspective of the Curriculum” (Grant Nos. 2024JGX048),and the 2023 Hubei Normal University Teacher Teaching Reform Research Project (Key Project) -Curriculum Development for Improving Pre-service Music Teachers' Teaching Design Capabilities from the Perspective of OBE (Grant Nos. 2023014), and the 2023 Guangxi Education Science “14th Five-Year Plan” special project: “Specialized Integration” Model and Practice of Art and Design Majors in Colleges and Universities in Ethnic Areas Based on the OBE Concept (Grant Nos. 2023ZJY1805), and the 2024 Guangxi University Young and Middle-aged Teachers’ Scientific Research Basic Ability Improvement Project “Research on the Integration Path of University Entrepreneurship and Intangible Inheritance - Taking Liu Sanjie IP as an Example” (Grant Nos. 2024KY0374), and the 2022 Research Project on the Theory and Practice of Ideological and Political Education for College Students in Guangxi - “Party Building + Red”: Practice and Research on the Innovation of Education Model in College Student Dormitories (Grant Nos. 2022SZ028), and the 2021 Guangxi University Young and Middle-aged Teachers’ Scientific Research Basic Ability Improvement Project - "Research on the Application of Ethnic Elements in the Visual Design of Live Broadcast Delivery of Guangxi Local Products" (Grant Nos. 2021KY0891).

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The contribution of H. to this paper primarily lies in research design and experimental execution. H. was responsible for the overall framework design of the paper, setting research objectives and methods, and actively participating in data collection and analysis during the experimentation process. Furthermore, H. was also responsible for conducting literature reviews and played a crucial role in the writing and editing phases of the paper. L.'s contribution to this paper primarily manifests in theoretical derivation and the discussion section. Additionally, author L. also proposed future research directions and recommendations in the discussion section, aiming to facilitate further research explorations. Y.'s contribution to this paper is mainly reflected in data analysis and result interpretation. Y. was responsible for statistically analyzing the experimental data and employing relevant analytical tools and techniques to interpret and elucidate the data results.

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Hu, J., Lai, Y. & Yi, X. Effectiveness of social media-assisted course on learning self-efficacy. Sci Rep 14 , 10112 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-60724-0

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