NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1150077
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Sep
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1931-7913
Insights from Small-"N" Studies
Gouvea, Julia
CBE - Life Sciences Education, v16 n3 Feature 4 Sep 2017
Small-"N" studies have been relatively uncommon in biology education research and are likely less familiar to instructors and administrators than large-"N" studies. Nevertheless, many scholars in the social sciences have argued for the value of small-"N" studies in informing research and practice (e.g., Flyvbjerg 2006). As in medical research, small-"N" case studies allow for deep examinations of phenomena in real-life contexts, shedding light on the underlying mechanisms and providing a rich basis for practitioner knowledge. This feature article discusses a group of recent papers that illustrate how small-"N" studies can make contributions to education research and practice. Each explores and proposes new ways of thinking about familiar concepts (e.g., identity, nature of science, emotion, self-efficacy) and builds theoretical connections among them in order to explain student learning. In doing so, these studies raise new questions that can drive forward emerging research paradigms in biology education research (Dolan 2015) and provide thought-provoking implications for biology instruction. The following papers are discussed: (1) "Connecting self-efficacy and views about the nature of science in undergraduate research experiences" (Quan and Elby 2016); (2) "Learning to feel like a scientist" (Jaber and Hammer 2016); and (3) "The marginalized identities of sense-makers: Reframing engineering student retention" (Danielak, Gupta, and Elby 2014).
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A