A case study developed by Dr. Jennifer Feenstra, associate professor of psychology, is being recommended by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. "The Great Parking Debate: A Research Methods Case Study" offers faculty an alternative or supplement to lecturing about hypotheses, operational definitions and random assignments.
In Feenstra's case study, two friends debate whether people leave their parking spaces faster if others are waiting. They decide to see if they can design a study to test their ideas. In this interrupted case study, students develop a research question and hypothesis and consider how to test a hypothesis. Students read about what researchers have done to answer the research question and identify and evaluate different research designs. Students are also asked to evaluate data. Developed for use in an introductory psychology course to cover terms and concepts related to research methods, the case could be used in other introductory science classes, early in research methods courses, or in upper-level social science courses.
The case study can be downloaded at the center's website.