Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

3.1 Case study: Intrinsic and Instrumental

Case study is not a method but rather a practice of representation of what has been investigated and learned through a careful examination of data. Both single and collective cases can be studies; in this report, single cases are developed (reporting on the specific bounded examples of Prince Rupert and Arrow Lakes) but the larger case study of the Network itself is also discussed using narratives and content analysis (in the section described as Impacts of the Network). Stake (1994) describes cases such as these in several ways, including intrinsic and instrumental (p. 237).

The cases of both Prince Rupert and Arrow Lakes should be considered intrinsic cases, because the focus is not on theory per se, but on exploring the details and contexts in which a particular set of events have unfolded. Its purpose is to understand more deeply how the specifics lead to particular outcomes. The later section of the report described as Impacts of the Network is an example of the instrumental case. Here the focus is on how the details of individuals’ reported experiences exemplify the theories and by extension, the implications of these theories to practice. Having said these differences exist, in practice often both theory and deep descriptions of events or stories overlap in the telling of the case or story. A third kind of approach to a case study is evident in the section called AESN Case Study Assessment. In this section we summarize how a group of documents, specifically a set of AESN reports written by members between 2009-2012 constitutes a ‘case’ for seeing how the impact on student learning has been documented over time.

An important outcome of case study is that it can be seen “as a small step toward grand generalization”(Stake, 1994, p. 238). We believe that the scope and range of cases included in this report provide us with the potential for making at least some tentative generalizations about the impact of the Network.