multiple methods

Case-Centered Research in Education: Bridging the Cultural Divide

The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 329-331). This excerpt discusses a case study illustrating how the author utilized many Total Quality Framework (TQF) design considerations, e.g., disclosure of the sampling method, a discussion of researcher bias, and processing plus verification procedures, that ultimately led to useful outcomes.

Bridging the cultural divideMultiple methods and case-centered qualitative research is the subject of other articles in Research Design Review – see “Multi-method & Case-centered Research: When the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts.” Multiple methods, of course, refers to combining two or more qualitative methods to investigate a research question. Case-centered research is

A term coined by Mishler (1996, 1999) to denote a research approach that preserves the “unity and coherence” of research subjects throughout data collection and analysis. It consists of two fundamental and unique components: (a) a focus on the investigation of “complex” social units or entities (also known as “case[s]”) in their entirety (i.e., not just one aspect captured at one moment in time), and (b) an emphasis on maintaining the cohesiveness of this entity throughout the research process. Two prominent case-centered approaches are case study research and narrative research. (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, p. 350).

The following case study is from Auerbach (2002) who used multiple methods within a case-centered narrative study design to explore schooling and communication with educators among working-class Latino parents in urban Los Angeles. This case is discussed around the four components of the TQF – Credibility, Analyzability, Transparency, and Usefulness.


The purpose of this research was to explore the problems that Latino parents in urban Los Angeles face related to the schooling of their children and communication with educators. More specifically, this research utilized one particular college-access program for high school students to investigate the use of storytelling among a marginalized group of working-class Latino parents to examine whether “listening to the stories of parents of color may help urban educators and policy makers bridge the divide between students’ home cultures and the culture of school” (p. 1370).


A case-centered approach is a popular form of qualitative research among educational researchers. Stake (1995), Qi (2009), Bennett et al. (2012), Clandinin and Connelly (1998; Connelly & Clandinin, 1990), and Randall (2012) are just a few of the researchers who have applied either case study or narrative research to issues in education. The study presented here is another example of case-centered research in an educational setting. This was a fitting approach, given the researcher’s access to and involvement with the “Futures Project”—a longitudinal study conducted in conjunction with
an experimental college-access program for high school students—which fostered a case-centered study design relying on multiple methods within a narrative framework.


The target population for this study was parents of high school students participating in the Futures Project. This project was conducted in partnership with UCLA to trace the trajectories of 30 students who participated in an experimental college-access program. The researcher used Read Full Text

Lighting a Path to Guide Case-Centered Research Design: A Six-Step Approach

Elliot Mishler coined the term “case-centered research” to refer to the research approach that preserves the “unity and coherence” of research participants through the data collection and well-lit-pathanalysis process. Fundamental to case-centered research is its focus on complex social units (or “cases”) in their entirety as well as the emphasis on maintaining the cohesiveness of the social unit(s) throughout the research process. As discussed in Research Design Review back in 2013, two important examples of case-centered approaches are case study research and narrative research.

The complexity and need for cohesion in case-centered research present unique design challenges. Indeed, quality outcomes from case study and narrative research are the result of a well-defined process that guides the researcher from the initial conceptualization phase to data collecting in the field. Although the specifics within the process will vary from study to study, there exists an optimal design flow when implementing the case-centered research approach.

The appropriate path in case-centered designs, leading to data collection, involves the following six Read Full Text

Qualitative Research Design: RDR Articles Published in 2015

2015 Qual Res Design

Research Design Review is a blog first published in November 2009. RDR currently includes over 130 articles concerning quantitative and qualitative research design issues. “Qualitative Research Design: Selected Articles from Research Design Review Published in 2015”  presents the 17 articles that were published in 2015 devoted to qualitative research design. These articles discuss best practices in research design for a range of qualitative methods – in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnography, multiple methods – and emphasize the need for quality standards in qualitative research design that lead to credible, analyzable, transparent, and ultimately useful outcomes. This quality approach to qualitative research is discussed at length in a new book from Guilford Press – Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015). As we state in the book:

                ““If it is agreed that qualitative research can, in fact, serve worthwhile (‘good’) purposes, then logically it would serve those purposes only to the degree that it is done (‘executed’) well…” (p. 20)

The 17 articles included in this compilation are:

1. Social Constructionism & Quality in Qualitative Research Design

2. The Interviewee’s Role in the Qualitative Interview: Interpreter or Reporter?

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