Teaching Research Methodology: Everything’s a Case


  • CD Reddy




This paper contributes to the discourse about research methodology pedagogy towards the development of new scholarly researchers. Because students can better visualise causal effects within a single case, I propose that instructors, before moving onto to teach inferential statistics relying on impersonal numbers from many cases, use instead a case-oriented approach to emphasise the “case” as the basic pedagogic unit to scaffold the student’s learning of research methodology. A carefully chosen case can represent an instantiation of the same phenomenon that will eventually be used to demonstrate inferential statistics.  After all, for causal effects to show up at the population level, they must be operating within particular cases. I refer to this as an N-case approach. This approach locates various combinations of quantitative and qualitative methods on a continuum from exploratory to confirmatory research. This continuum can also be framed as one moving from the particular to the general. The single case allows students to grasp ideas about causal processes in a more direct manner than a survey can. Instructors can then build on single case insights to grasp similar ideas at a population level. My motivation for this approach is to turn away from a pedagogy where research methodology teaching begins with ideas set in quantitative approaches to understand causal processes occurring at a particular case level. I also believe that current research teaching ought to turn away from encouraging students to apply a research design according to their favoured identity along a qualitative-quantitative divide. Instead, the research problem should determine the required research design.



23 Feb 2021