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CP 6: Designing Case Studies

From the Core Practices Beta 2017

Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Core Resources about EL Education

Type

Guidance Documents

In the EL Education model, the word “case study” means two things. First, it is an approach to research: using a narrowed topic as a window into big ideas and concepts. This kind of case study is usually incorporated into projects and learning expeditions. Second, a case study can be a structure itself outside of a project or learning expedition—a focused investigation that does not require (as a project does) a culminating product. 

Sometimes, EL Education uses the term “case study” exactly as it is applied in the fields of law, business or medicine, to refer to an investigation of a unique person, place, institution, or event (e.g., the topic of birds narrowed to a case study of owls; the topic of race in America narrowed to a case study of race in 1960’s Milwaukee). Other times, EL uses the term more loosely, to refer to a narrowed subtopic that allows students to focus their research on a particular category (e.g., in a study of the Civil War, students are involved in a case study of “children in the war”) or to compare different perspectives (e.g., historical and current, local and international, scientific and historical, literary and real-life). In both uses, a case study helps students focus their research and become experts on a specific topic before they generalize their learning to broader concepts and content. 

Case studies are typically, but not always, 2 - 6 weeks in duration.

Created By

EL Education

Topic

  • Core Resources about EL Education

Type

Guidance Documents

In the EL Education model, the word “case study” means two things. First, it is an approach to research: using a narrowed topic as a window into big ideas and concepts. This kind of case study is usually incorporated into projects and learning expeditions. Second, a case study can be a structure itself outside of a project or learning expedition—a focused investigation that does not require (as a project does) a culminating product. 

Sometimes, EL Education uses the term “case study” exactly as it is applied in the fields of law, business or medicine, to refer to an investigation of a unique person, place, institution, or event (e.g., the topic of birds narrowed to a case study of owls; the topic of race in America narrowed to a case study of race in 1960’s Milwaukee). Other times, EL uses the term more loosely, to refer to a narrowed subtopic that allows students to focus their research on a particular category (e.g., in a study of the Civil War, students are involved in a case study of “children in the war”) or to compare different perspectives (e.g., historical and current, local and international, scientific and historical, literary and real-life). In both uses, a case study helps students focus their research and become experts on a specific topic before they generalize their learning to broader concepts and content. 

Case studies are typically, but not always, 2 - 6 weeks in duration.

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