In the end of the session that DevInsights conducted jointly with Bernard Van Leer Foundation on the topic “Reporting and Learning in MEL”, a participant asked me – what is the difference between a “case study” and “best practice”? This was an excellent question, indeed.

Firstly I tried to expound whether we should call it a “best” or “good” practice. All practices cannot be the “best”, so therefore the term “best practices” should be used very judiciously. Methods that have been shown to be successful and are easily replicable in many contexts, groups, and organisations are proven practises. They are frequently referred to as “best practises,” however occasionally “good practises” is also used. The word “best practise” has a flaw in that it implies the accomplishment of an ideal, but “proven practise” more accurately indicates that a technique has been attempted and was successful. Whether or not they are the “best,” it is preferable to learn about and adopt tried-and-true methods that work in your setting.

Now moving on to the main issue of difference between a case study and a best practice. Both the concepts can be explained as under:

Case study: An extensive examination of a real-world circumstance or incident is known as a case study. Case studies are frequently utilised as teaching aids in schools and professional development environments. A case study can be used to explore a wide range of issues, including intervention strategy, management, and more. It may involve a firm, organisation, or individual. A case study’s objective is to carefully investigate a situation, identify its major problems, possibilities, and difficulties, and then suggest a course of action based on that analysis. Some of the examples are: A girl resisting child marriage due to access to education; A school with no girl drop-out; A community with no child labour, etc.

Best / Good Practice: On the other hand, the most effective and efficient methods for reaching a specific aim or target are referred to as best practises. The experience and knowledge of successful people or organisations are frequently the foundation of best practises, which are designed to be broadly transferable and replicable. The objective of best practises is to recognise and advance strategies that have been demonstrated to be effective in enhancing results and achieving success.

In summary, a case study is a detailed analysis of a specific situation or incident, while best practices are proven methods for achieving a particular goal.

Author: Paresh Kumar, CEO & Co-founder, DevInsights

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