case analysis


All case analyses must include the six sections in the table below, although some instructors may require additional elements. Use headings to identify these sections in the case analyses.

Required Components of Case Analyses


Briefly identify the major elements (i.e., who, where, what) of the case.

Contextual Analysis

Summarize internal and external issues that created or sustain the problem (i.e., why). Depending on the system level, these may include: cultural, economic/resource, political/legal, organizational, social, and ethical issues, interpersonal relationships, and intrapsychic and biological conditions. Use and cite professional sources (and include APA-style references).

Problem Statement

Give a specific and concisely written formulation of the problem to guide analysis and problem-solving. Not a question but a statement of the problem. Usually no more than two sentences.

Alternative Strategies

Identify three or more possible solutions to the problem. These solutions should be plausible, distinct and non-contingent (i.e., not interdependent). Briefly note advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution for addressing the problem.


Justify your preferred strategy, explaining why you selected that particular one, how it best resolves the problem, and how you will determine its effectiveness. Be sure your recommended strategy can be plausibly supported by resources available in the case context.

Ways of Knowing

Self-reflectively identify the source for your thinking about this case. For example, did you base it on previous experience, intuition, specific theories, personal values, authority, empirical research, previous discussion of similar problems, or something else?

Case Evaluation Matrix

Problem Statement

Contextual Analysis

Alternative Strategies


“Thinking like a SWer”



Accurate, clear, specific, concise, and useful

Adequately addresses all important issues

Several distinct and appropriate strategies, with well-developed pros/cons for each

Explicitly resolves the entire problem

Reflects thorough problem-solving

Compelling, clear and interesting, with no errors

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