Civic Case Study

Conducting Case Study*


Grade level: 9 to 12
Activity type: Project 
Period: Multiple sessions 
Related subjects: Government, U.S History


The efforts of others to make change can teach important lessons about effective participation today. In this case, educators guide young people in identifying and exploring a good case of civic participation. The Ten Questions provides a useful frame for analyzing complex social problems and movements as students conduct their own research. 

Essential Questions

  • Why does this case matter to me? 
  • Who participated and what were their main goals? 
  • How did they achieve the goals?  What strategies and tactics were used? 
  • What counts as success? What can we learn from this case regarding our own civic action? 

Learning Goals 

  • Identify and refine main research questions.
  • Employ various methods of inquiry, including interviews, literature review, survey, and statistics.  
  • Use the Ten Questions framework to explore research questions for the chosen cases.
  • Contemplate the lessons students can elicit from the case regarding their own civic action. 


  • Begin with a warm-up conversation with students around social, cultural, and political issues they care about and are interested in exploring.
  • Have students form small groups and discuss the case they want to study. Ask them to engage with Question 1, or why the case matters to them.
    • The case can be any group, organization, or single person.
    • Haves students explain what issues they want to explore and why the case matters to them.
  • Guide students in detailing a general plan about how to investigate their chosen cases using the Ten Questions and the methods they hope to use. Have students submit a research proposal (Assignment 1).   
  • Provide feedback on Assignment 1 so that students may conduct research more effectively.  
  • Allow students to work independently on their project. Have them submit a progress report on “what we have discovered so far” (Assignment 2). 
    • Students briefly share their progress, interesting findings, unresolved issues, on-going agenda, or challenges. 
    • Students calibrate the last step of the project, finalizing the main argument and searching effective presentation methods.
  • Students present their final work in class.  Discuss together what they learned from the cases, what they saw as the cases’ successes (or failures) and why, and what could have been improved. 
  • Have student write an individual reflection note (Assignment 3) and submit it along with a final group project report (Assignment 4).


  • The materials are mostly determined by students who conduct case study.
  • Mobile phones can be a great tool, as they have various media apps and functions.

* This unit is included in the Teaching Guide: 10 Questions for the Present.