Case Study Research in Music Education

Document Type


Publication Date



The term, “case study” is often used but less often cited and carefully described in music education research. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the use of the term “case study” in relation to music education research published in American journals. Following the model set forth by Lane (2011), we examined all case studies published in the Journal of Research in Music Education (JRME) and the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (CRME) in the time period 2007 – 2011, which included nine articles that state case study as the design. Our analysis considered the following aspects of case study research as derived from the case study literature: (a) appropriateness of design choice, (b) clarity of case study definition, (c) unit of analysis, (d) theoretical framework, (e) discussion of sampling, (f) depth of data sets, (g) description of analysis, and (h) trustworthiness or validity.

Conclusions suggest that researchers who are conducting qualitative case studies (a) clarify what kind of case study design they are employing and include citations and/or quotes to make this clear; (b) identify and define the single unit of analysis for their study, or, in the case of single-case (embedded) (Yin, 2009), the units of analysis; (c) consider including a theoretical framework in addition to the related literature section; (d) provide a discussion of purposeful sampling procedures used to choose/identify possible participant; (e) collect multiple forms of data, such as interviews, observations, background surveys, documents/artifacts, journals, audiovisual material, etc., (f) describe the analysis process and include discussion about within-case analysis, cross-case analysis, and/or assertions; and (g) describe multiple techniques used to contribute to trustworthiness or credibility (i.e. data triangulation, analyst triangulation, reflexive triangulation, member checks, adequate engagement in data collection, researcher’s position or reflexivity, peer review/examination, audit trail, rich, thick descriptions, and/or internal validity).

Publication Name

New Directions: A Journal of Scholarship, Creativity and Leadership in Music Education

Volume Number


Issue Number