Writing a case study to share learning and outcomes is important for people’s own practice, as well as for the wider sector/s we work in. It helps us all to get better at what we do. Yet it can seem like a difficult task – particularly when you’re faced with a blank screen and a looming funding report deadline. Here is a structure and some questions that may help. These are based on the questions that I use for case study interviews for music education, community music, youth music, and various charity sector projects. If you have any you’d like to add or edit, please let me know and I’ll update this blog.
Considering how you can share what you do, without writing it down?
You may like this blog about different formats and tools to communicate information and learning
Setting the scene
– what’s it all about and who’s involved?
- Who – who are the participants, practitioners (eg music leaders), partners, funders/commissioners?
- What – what is it and what’s the purpose? What difference is it going to make?
- Where – does it take place?
- When – how often, over what time period?
- How – what happens/is happening?
- Why – why was the work needed/why is it happening – was there a problem that this work is solving? Why is it important?
Describing the practice
– how would you describe your practice, objectively?
- What does it look like, what are you actually doing?
- Can you outline the key skills/approaches that inform your practice?
- Is any of this unique in any way? Why?
- Is there any other background the reader needs to know about what you did and the way you did it?
– why have you done it like that; what will you build on, what would make it better
- Why do you work in this particular way / with these particular groups?
- What works well / doesn’t work well, and why? How do you know, how are you judging that?
- What would/will make it better?
The difference it makes
– what outcomes did you achieve, what didn’t you achieve?
- What does it achieve, what difference does it make?
- Could you include any evidence of this?
- What outcomes were you expecting that didn’t happen?
- How could those be achieved in future projects?
- What was the upshot, what happened as a result of the work?
- How will the participants sustain the benefits/learning/activity? Are there progression routes for them?
- What’s happening now or next?
Thanks to Kathryn Deane, Phil Mullen and Rob Hunter who contributed to the original version of these questions.