How to Read a Case Study

According to Dr. Fritz Mengert, neuro epistomologist and research scientist, the first step in examining a case study is to clarify the facts presented. The reader of the study, he says, must have a view of the principle in the case and a solid notion of who wrote the study.

Person the case is presenting:

How old is the person in months?

One of the big problems in the structure of education in this country is that young boys and girls are grouped according to their ages in years. As any first grade teacher knows, there is a vast difference in maturity between a child who has just turned six and one who will soon be seven. All six-year-old children are not in the same place at all, yet the structure of grade levels tends to encourage a "one size fits all" educational experience.

Knowing the age of a child in months is a much more accurate measure his/her level of maturity.

Is there any data about the home, parents, siblings, and a notion of the economic standing from which the child comes?

Study after study indicates that children of poverty enter kindergarten with much smaller vocabularies than their more privileged peers. Since their peers continue to acquire words both at home and at school, under resourced children often find themselves lagging farther and farther behind, and unable to catch up.

The level of education of the parents also impacts the size of the vocabularies of children as do the presence of older siblings in the home. So this, too, is important information to know when looking for the root of a child's learning problems.

Composer of the study:

What is the relationship of the author to the child?

For what purpose was the study prepared?

What  experience has the preparer had with the child in question?

Other Items for Consideration:

Is the language or are there words that seem of special interest?

Are there inconsistencies in the information that is presented?

If you were able what sort questions would you want to ask the preparer?

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Presented with a case study, I find it helpful to begin with a hard copy so that I am able to highlight or underline phrases and write questions in the margins. The same can be accomplished on a tablet or computer, but it is important to record your thoughts as you read so that you can return to those passages later.

Studies must be read carefully, giving attention to details and following up gaps in the study. Dates are of importance in following the progression of the child's learning so take careful note of recorded dates.

Reading case studies takes practice which is why we will be posting different documents here for your study and review. Asking questions is critical as we go along so please do not hesitate to post questions and observations.

Our hope is that eventually you can post histories of your own for discussion. A fresh set of eyes often sees things you might have overlooked, and we can grow our understanding as we make suggestions for your treatment plan.

You will soon learn that there is some information that is absolutely essential for every case. Diagnosing Learning Problems outlines these issues and is a good place to start in understanding how to help children who have trouble learning.