Case Study Research in School Psychology
Thomas R. Kratochwill
Mini-Series on Developmental Disabilities
NASP Members: Log in to download this article
ABSTRACT: Case study research has been used relatively often in school and other applied areas of psychology. As traditionally conceived, case study investigation refers to the relatively uncontrolled and subjectively described study of a single case. However, case studies need not be restricted to this form of methodology. Several different types of case studies are reviewed in this paper including non-therapeutic, assessment, and therapeutic/intervention case studies.Case studies can be improved by taking into account numerous methodological factors,including repeated measurement of objective data, planning the treatment, chronicity of the case, size, and impact of effects, the number and diversity of subjects, standardization, and monitoring the integrity of both the independent and dependent variables, employing some type of formal design and data analysis, examining the social validity of outcomes, assessing generalization and maintenance of treatment effects. Several example studies are reviewed in the context of these considerations and recommendations are made for future case study research in school psychology.
Integrating scientific methods into school psychological practice is an essential tenet of effective service. In this article, we present two related examples that demonstrate methods by which to conduct high-quality intervention and consultation case studies with integrity. The present case studies utilized home note and consultation-based interventions to improve task completion and accuracy in mathematics for primary grade students who had demonstrated performance difficulties despite adequate intellectual ability and academic skills. Two sets of case studies were conducted. One involved the use of a home-school note implemented by parents and teachers in conjunction with a self-instruction manual. The second set of case studies used the home note and manual instituted in the context of behavioral consultation with parents and teachers. Both interventions (home-note-only and home note with consultation) increased math completion and accuracy in underachievers. Levels of performance were stable and differences between baseline and treatment conditions were statistically significant for consultation students only. Treatment integrity, maintenance of treatment gains, and consumer acceptability were also stronger in the consultation case studies. The implications for practitioners and future research are explored.