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Simple Guide to The Mixed Methods Research Approach

UserMark time01 October,2021

Mixed methods research is an amalgamation of qualitative and quantitative research designs. This particular research paradigm has become widely popular and widely used across different academic and research domains.

The primary idea behind the mixed methods research approach involves using tactics of inquiry. This applies to both qualitative and quantitative research tools at different stages of the qualitative research process.

The product of the pragmatist paradigm, the mixed methods research approach, stems from the need to perform holistic research that covers all grounds.

This write-up investigates the varying aspects of this effective research design.

Mixed Method Research Design

What Is Mixed Methods Research?

A Look into Its Emergence & Key Attributes

The origins of the Mixed-Methods research design lie in the limitations and the ever-existing conflicts between the two primary research paradigms.

Quantitative research or positivist paradigm has been the cornerstone of numerous researches. The critical highlights of this research are freedom from all biases, emotional detachment and objective approach and empirical justification of the stated research hypothesis.

Qualitative research purists believe in a constructivist or interpretivist paradigm. They engage in time and context focused generalization and value bound research with a specific & subjective focus on individual interpretations.

The Mixed Methods Approach aims to merge both perspectives in a complementary fashion.

Paradigm wars have been occurring since the days of yore. The effectiveness and widespread usage of both research paradigms across several domains ensured the continued existence of both approaches.

And, the 80s and 90s called for a truce between the two major paradigms. Many researchers considered both the quantitative and qualitative methods to be compatible with each other.

The mixed-methods study is widely regarded as the third primary research paradigm besides qualitative and quantitative research designs.

Let us look at the key features and characteristics of the mixed methods approach in the next section.

Key Features and Characteristics of The Mixed Method Design

An article from Stanford University cites notable literature that defines the mixed methods research design as consisting of research strands belonging to both paradigms.

The following six characteristics of the mixed methods research design highlight how the mixed method approach combines the strengths of both.

  • Collecting and analysing both qualitative and quantitative research data with rigor by designing appropriately designed research questions.
  • Mixing and integrating both kinds of data in a complementary fashion and using them to build better inferences
  • Giving priority to one or both kinds of data based on the nature of research and the emphasis of the research objectives
  • Framing the procedures in a single research study or multiple phases of research using relevant tools from both approaches
  • Combining procedures into the specific research designs that allow for the conduction of in-depth study

As evident, such core characteristics portray a surprisingly comprehensive perspective about the mixed methods research approach and design.

Advantages of The Mixed Methods Approach

The most significant benefits of the mixed-method research originate from the very need to implement the said approach.  In simple words, the mixed methods approach allows researchers to investigate from both extremes of the research methodology spectrum.

The Mixed methods approach enables comprehensive research and unearths deeper insights. Whether it's sociology or business studies, the application of mixed methods allows the integrated implementation of subjective and objective investigatory measures.

As a result, the approach adds value to any research being conducted, no matter the domain.

It also offers a broad scope for a better understanding of research problems and the phenomena under investigation. Triangulating one set of results with another helps in better inferences than just a single set of assumptions obtained from a single approach.

Let us now look at the factors that dictate the design of a multi-method approach and the different types of mixed-method research designs.

Three Major Types of Mixed Method Designs

Here's a look at three of the most commonly used variations of the mixed-method approach.

The Sequential Explanatory Strategy

In this strategy, the collection and analysis of quantitative data follow the collection and analysis of quantitative data.  Equal priority is given to both phases, and data is integrated during the interpretation phase.

However, the primary focus is on explaining quantitative results by investigating specific effects in much more detail and helping explain unexpected results.

The strengths of this particular approach are that it is relatively straightforward due to clear & distinct stages, and it is easier to descry the concurrent strategies. Weaknesses are its excessive time consumption when both phases are given equal priority.

The Sequential Exploratory Strategy

Here, the collection and analysis of qualitative data occur before the collection and analysis of the quantitative data. Equal priority is given to both phases, but actual priority can be given to either.

Data integration occurs during the interpretation.  This particular strategy is used to investigate a phenomenon by testing elements of a specific theory, generalisation of qualitative findings of different samples and developing apt instrumentation to conduct a thorough investigation of a particular phenomenon.

Strengths include its relative straightforwardness due to its clear & distinct stages. It is also easier to explain than other concurrent strategies.

The Sequential Transformative Strategy

There are two distinct data collection phases in this particular variation but do not need to be conducted in any specific sequence.

Priority is given to either qualitative or qualitative data, and data integration is done during the interpretation phase.

However, a theoretical perspective/conceptual framework/definite ideology guides this mixed-method approach variation, with the data being considered secondary in importance.

As evident, the primary purpose of this specific type of mixed methods design is to serve the theoretical perspective of the researcher involved. Very straightforward in terms of implementation, the only weakness of this approach is again time-consumption and a lack of literature.

Before we round up this write-up, here are some mixed-method research example questions for the reader’s acquaintance.

Mixed Methods Research Questions

The context of the questions below stems from research conducted in 1995 by L.E Houtz into the differences between the middle school and junior high instructional strategies and published in an article on the mixed methods approach by Sagepub.com.

The mixed-method research variation of LE Houtz's combination of qualitative & quantitative research questions are as follows:

  • How do the interviews with teachers, the principal and university consultants help to explain any quantitative differences in achievement for middle school and junior high students?

Note how the question draws a connection with both kinds of data. This is the key feature of the mixed methods design.

Another method of framing the above question also showcase this feature.

  • How do the teachers' themes help explain why middle school children score lower than junior high students?

And that rounds up this write-up. Hope it was informative enough.  If you want to learn more or require assistance for your mixed-method research assignments or projects, MyAssignmenthelp.com can assist you with intent.

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