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Case Study as a Research Method for Analyzing MOOCs

Presence and Characteristics of Those Case Studies in the Main Scientific Databases

Keywords: MOOC, case study, literature review, research methods, literature analysis


Educational research is one of the many fields of knowledge that frequently use case studies as a research method, particularly when applying an interpretive approach. Based on literature reviews and a systematic analysis of current scientific literature, this paper examines the prevalence and characteristics of the case study as a methodology for research on MOOCs. Ninety-two documents were selected from the search results returned by two of the most prestigious scientific databases: Web of Science (WOS) and SCOPUS. Findings showed that (a) even when searching solely for case studies, quantitative research paradigms were more prevalent than interpretive approaches; (b) geographical distribution of these studies was partially biased; (c) case studies were less prevalent in these databases than other empirical investigations on MOOCs; (d) the data collection and data analysis methods most frequently used in the case studies were more aligned with a quantitative approach; and (e) there is still very little instructor-focused research using this methodology. In the light of these findings and their discussion, future directions for research using case study methodology are proposed, given the potential of this method to illustrate certain issues for which other approaches have proved inadequate or insufficient.

Author Biographies

Ramón Montes-Rodríguez, University of Granada, Spain
Department of Didactics and School Organization.  Ph.D. candidate and Pre-doctoral teacher assistant.
Juan Bautista Martínez-Rodríguez, University of Granada, Spain

Department of Didactics and School Organization. Full Professor.

Almudena Ocaña-Fernández, University of Granada, Spain

Senior Lecturer in Department of Didactics of Musical, Plastic and Body Expression.

How to Cite
Montes-Rodríguez, R., Martínez-Rodríguez, J. B., & Ocaña-Fernández, A. (2019). Case Study as a Research Method for Analyzing MOOCs. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(3).
Research Articles