Exemplar Ten Strategic Points for a Qualitative Study
Example 1: Qualitative Case Study
1. Topic – Provides a broad research topic area/title: A Case Study of how a comprehensive global programme, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, influences the success of a single middle school.
2. Literature review – Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: a. Background of the problem/gap; b. Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study); c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; d. Summary.
a. Background of the problem/gap:
i. Prior studies which show a relationship between achievement in mathematics and literacy and taking a language identified need to study how taking a foreign language leads, especially in immersion programs, to higher levels of cognitive development as reflected in higher scores in mathematics and literacy (Stewart, 2008).
ii. Dr. Celestine Gail Carr (1994) concluded that further studies on the effects of foreign language studies on vocabulary, mathematical concepts, and mathematical computations examining for a correlation between foreign language aptitude and mathematical aptitude at the middle school level.
iii. Dr. Carolyn Joyce Taylor-Ward (2003) identified the need for future sties on relationship between studying elementary school foreign language and academic achievement on state test scores.
b. Theoretical Foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study);
Lev Vygotsky, a pioneer in developmental psychology researched the development of language and its relationship to thought (Vygotsky, 1986). Vygotsky studied cognitive development and its relationship to the role of social interaction with the environment (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky proposed that language, along with environmental social interaction helps a child to learn to reason (Vygotsky, 1978). Learning a foreign language is a social activity that involves a learner’s interaction with the environment and their teacher. Vygotsky’s model supports the assumption that cognitive development transfers in the Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978). The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program provides a medium for which a More Knowledgeable Other and the Zone of Proximal Development take place. Learners demonstrate through interaction in organized debates, hands-on experimentation projects, investigations, and problem solving activities.
c. Review of literature topics with key theme for each one;
i. Historical Events: Historically, there have been laws enacted, government initiatives, and global events that have driven the need for support of a global education as well as improved performance in basic areas such as mathematics and literacy within the United States of America.
ii. National Security: Today’s global realities make it imperative for the United States to adapt a global perspective including learning foreign languages as a priority for U.S. national security and to help the U.S. remain a global leader.
iii. Global Literacy: There are high performing schools that have comprehensive global learning programs, which have contributed to students’ cognitive development and resulting improvements of national and state standardized test scores.
iv. Cognitive Development: Empirical research shows that a relationship exists between cognitive development, comprehensive global learning, and student success in areas such as mathematics and literacy.
v. Qualitative Case Study Design: Prior studies on this program have been predominately correlational and focused on determine the impact of the program. However, an in-depth understanding of how this program may be influencing student performance is missing. A case study is an ideal approach to understand the causal relationships within complex phenomena (Yin, 2014).
i. United States priority for global literacy to be competitive and secure.
ii. Learning foreign languages leads to improved cognitive development and student performance.
iii. Gap in terms of additional research needed to examine these findings.
iv. Case study design is ideal for understanding causal relationships within complex phenomena.
3. Problem statement – Describes the phenomena to study (qualitative) or variables/groups (quantitative) to study, in one sentence: It is not known how the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influences the success of a single middle school in the state of Georgia.
4. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers).
a. Location: The state of Georgia of the United States of America.
b. Target Population: A school district with over 25 schools.
c. Sample: A single middle school that uses the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and has over 500 students.
5. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to answer the problem statement:
1. R1: What is the nature and structure of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme?
1. R2: How does the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influence school success including Annual Yearly Progress?
1. R3: What factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to cognitive development?
1. R4: What factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to global literacy?
1. R5: How does the leadership of an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme contribute to a schools’ success?
1. R6: How is the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme evaluated?
6.Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena – Provides hypotheses with variables for each research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood (qualitative).
a. Phenomenon: Understanding the nature and influence of an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in a single middle school in the state of Georgia on global literacy and improvement in cognitive development as well as mathematics and literacy performance.
7. Methodology and design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address problem statement and research questions: The methodology is qualitative. The design is a single case study of a single program and how it influences a single middle school.
8. Purpose: The purpose of the qualitative single case study is to determine how the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme influences the success of a single middle school in the state of Georgia.
a. The researcher will get an overview of the International Baccalaureate Programme through the website provided by the International Baccalaureate.
b. The investigator will look at the Georgia Department of Education’s public database to determine if state standardized test scores of this single middle school show success in performance and other dimensions of performance that display on the public database.
c. The investigator will interview the founders of and curriculum developers of the International Baccalaureate to understand focus of program and how it develops global literacy and may lead to improved cognitive development reflected in mathematics and literacy scores on state tests.
d. The investigator will interview the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school-based principal, programme coordinator, and foreign language teachers.
e. Media, curriculum (designer and school based), and evaluation reports about International Baccalaureate Programme will contribute to the study.
f. The researcher will look at factors of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (curriculum, reports, interviews with developers and the school-based principal) that contributes to cognitive development and global literacy.
10. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.
a. Data will be organized and prepared for analysis.
b. Descriptive statistics will summarize the data.
c. Coding will generate themes to address the research questions.
d. A narrative and visual summary of the case study will be developed across the research questions.