Case Analysis Guide
1.) Describe what is going on by noting:
a. Who are the key actors? What do we know about each of them?
b. What are the key systems involved? What do we know about each?
c. What does the problem seem to be? What are the underlying problems/issues?
d. What are the key sources of tension? What has lead up to this decision moment? What has changed to make this particular moment such a difficult one to negotiate?
2.) Explore the key sources of tension by considering:
a. What roles do different actors play in creating/sustaining a tension?
i. How can you make sense of these roles? How does an actor’s background, attributes, culture, beliefs, etc., shape his/her perceptions? His/her behaviors? It may help spur your thinking to consider: How might things be different if a male actor were female? If a Black actor were white?
b. What roles do systems play in creating/sustaining a tension (issue/problem)?
i. How can you make sense of these roles? How does a system’s structure, organization, functionality, resources, location, rules, norms, expectations, etc., shape the kinds of experiences the key actors are having?
c. How do interactions among actors and systems relate to a tension?
3.) Assess how additional knowledge and/or theory could deepen your understanding of the key sources of tension, and integrate that additional knowledge:
a. What is known about people with the attributes of the key actors? (e.g. developmental stages, cultural differences, gender differences, life transitions, people experiencing particular types of stressors, etc.) – look for both theories and empirical evidence!
b. What is known about systems like those at the center of this case? (e.g. bureaucratic systems, hierarchical versus flat organizational structures, segregated neighborhoods, the impact of high job stress and low resources on worker productivity, strengths-based versus deficit-based service environments, etc.) – look for both theories and empirical evidence!
c. How does this additional knowledge shape your thinking about the key sources of tension?
4.) Develop a problem formulation that focuses attention on the central tension/issue that must be addressed if the decision-maker is to move things forward in a productive way, while clarifying the key individual and systems factors that are most salient to why/how this issue has come to be.
5.) Develop alternative strategies that the decision-maker could realistically use to address the central issue. Be sure that each strategy begins in the specific moment/situation in which the decision-maker finds him/herself – that is, if the decision-maker is in the midst of a heated argument, do not suggest a strategy that will start tomorrow, assuming that somehow he/she has gotten through the argument. Your strategy will often extend from the current moment into the near future, but you must articulate your strategy for getting from where things are right now, to a point where the key issue has been resolved enough to move forward productively.
6.) Look for evidence to support your strategies – what does the research literature tell us is likely to work? What does theory predict will happen if a particular strategy is selected? What does your own practice experience tell you about the pros and cons of each strategy?
7.) Choose the best strategy, and justify that choice.
Please make sure it is APA style and one thousand words or less, so technically one page and a half. Please make sure that you list 3 recommendations, which needs to be in numerical order. Then you must pick one recommendation out of the 3 and state why you chose that specific recommendation.
The first 2 attachments are Case Analysis examples on how they should be done and the third is the actual case analysis that needs to be written on.
SOWK 718: Case Analysis Assessment Checklist
I. Introduction. A well-written introduction succinctly identifies the setting, key people, and current situation. The introduction:
Identifies the setting
Identifies key people
Summarizes the current situation
II. Problem Formulation. To set the stage for action, a strong problem formulation explains what causes the problem in a concise, thoughtful, critical, and useful way. The problem formulation:
Includes essential elements of the case
Incorporates attention to the presenting problem, why this was a problem, and the need to act.
Asserts explanatory relationships between elements in the simplest, appropriate way.
Clarifies why deciding and/or acting was difficult for the protagonist (i.e., decision maker) in the situation.
Impartial to strategies (i.e., it does not presume a strategy)
Frames the problem in a way amenable to intervention by the protagonist (i.e., decision-maker) at the time.
III. Contextual Analysis. A strong, comprehensive contextual analysis provides an argument explaining how essential elements relate, and justifying the problem formulation. The contextual analysis:
Is factually correct.
Explains how and why the facts of the case matter.
Attends to multiple system levels (e.g., micro, meso, macro) and integrates thinking across those levels.
Uses topic sentences that make a clear and sequential argument.
Provides support for each part of the argument using analysis of case data, relevant theory, practice/empirical knowledge, and/or ethics.
Attends fairly to strengths and weaknesses of the argument.
Offers a compelling argument.
IV. Alternative Strategies. After identifying a successful outcome, a strong set of alternative strategies will represent plausible options for responding to the presenting problem and underlying issues.
Identifies what a successful outcome requires.
As a group, the strategies:
Address the presenting problem as well as underlying causes.
Are unique and distinct from each other.
Are something the protagonist (i.e., decision-maker) can do or facilitate at the time.
Discussion of each strategy (distinguished by strategy number 1, 2, and 3 below):
Responds to all essential elements of the problem formulation.
Considers relevant ethical principles and legal and policy contexts, as appropriate.
Considers unintended consequences, as appropriate.
Considers why the problem is difficult for the protagonist at this time.
Considers strengths of the strategy.
Considers limitations of the strategy.
Provides adequate detail for understanding what the strategy entails.
V. Recommendation and Rationale. A strong, complete recommendation provides a rationale for choosing one strategy over the others presented. The recommendation and rationale:
Gives explicit reason(s) for choosing this strategy over the alternatives.
Is logically coherent.
Makes claims grounded in evidence (e.g., NASW Code of Ethics, empirical literature, theoretical frameworks, professional experience).
Identifies the primary source of the student’s thinking about this case (e.g., experience, intuition, values, beliefs, theories, authority, empirical research, previous discussions, or something else).
VI. Writing. Well written papers will communicate clearly, persuasively, and without distractions, and will appear professional quality. Strong writing is:
Concise, efficient, and appropriate length.
Respectful (e.g., person-first, non-sexist).
In mostly active voice.
Well organized (e.g., sentence, paragraph, section).
Uses proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Includes proper APA-style in-text citations and references, as needed.
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