Tip #509: Directions for Writing a Narrative Case Study

“If written directions alone would suffice, libraries wouldn’t need to have the rest of the universities attached.” Judith Martin

I created these instructions for writing a narrative case study, for the benefit of three health professionals in Kenya who were contracted to create case studies for a US Agency for Industrial Development training program. Please see what you think:

A narrative case study is a story of a real life problem or situation that provides sufficient background data so that the problem can be analyzed and solved.

  • A good case study is written in the form of a story.
  • It has a problem for the readers to solve.
  • It has characters who have names and use authentic dialogue.
  • It is descriptive, with realistic details.
  • The flow is easy to follow.
  • There is sufficient information so that the readers can understand what the problem is and, after thinking about it and analyzing the information, come up with a proposed solution.
  • It has pertinent questions that focus the readers on the key points.


  • Draw your information from real situations that were either resolved successfully or unsuccessfully.
  • Your case study should include:
  1. A decision maker who is dealing with some question or problem that needs to be resolved;
  2. A description of the problem;
  3. An explanation of the context in which the problem occurred; and
  4. Sufficient supporting data.
  • Your case study should provide the answers to these questions:
  1. What is the issue?
  2. Who is involved?
  3. When did the situation occur?
  4. Where did the situation take place?
  5. Why did the issue/problem arise?
  6. What key facts should be considered?
  7. What questions do the key characters need to resolve?
  8. What alternatives are available to the decision-maker?
  • Your case study should have five sections:
  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion
  4. Questions
  5. Answers to Questions [identify what the actual owner did in the situation]

If you would like a copy of the Narrative Case Study Template that accompanied these directions, just contact Deborah Laurel.

May your learning be sweet.


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