Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A question about mixed methods

In Chapter 7, the author talked about the quantitative and qualitative research methods. But now, many researchers are moving to mixed methods as an approach. She didn't mention mixed methods in this chapter as an alternative. Why? Is it because mixed methods too new? or is it because Noddings would agree with some qualitative researchers, and argue that this does not fit with the epistemological tradition and goals of qualitative approaches?

What do you think about mixed method approaches?


Robin said...

It's kind of complicated :)

One way to think about mixed methods - is that it's really nothing new. Anthropologically trained ethnographers have always used mixed methods to delve into the meaning of culture (observe, interview, collect statistical data, etc.). And they're not the only ones...Of course, that this is an idea that seems to be gathering steam- is an interesting phenomenon. I find that more physical/natural science trained folks are more likely to say "mixed methods" than social science trained folks...and at some level this makes sense to me.

The other way to think about it involves poking at why people identify their research as a mixed methods approach. For me, sometimes when people choose mixed methods it is a recognition of the audience to whom they are speaking (and a recognition that mixed methods will make a more persuasive argument to that audience). This has to do with linking to evaluation research traditions. At the same time, there is a lot of ambiguity about what people mean by the use of the words "mixed methods" - just because you have an interview and a survey doesn't make it mixed methods - it is the relationship of those data sets and how they are combined to establish claims.'s tricky...but yes, I do agree that a large part of this has do to with knowledge claims.