Theory in mixed method research

Theory in mixed method research can be applied deductively (such as by testing or verifying quantitative theories) or inductively (such as by the emergence of qualitative theories or patterns). Social science or health science theories can be used as a theoretical framework to be tested, both with quantitative and qualitative approaches. 

Another way to apply theory in mixed method research is to make the theory a theoretical perspective to guide the research. In this case, mixed method research that is based on gender theory, race or ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or other issues then the research should apply these theories in the research section (Mertens, 2003).

Historically, the idea of using theoretical foundations in mixed method research was first demonstrated by Greene and Caracelli in 1997. 

They identified the application of transformative design ' to mixed methods research. This design prioritizes research based on values and actions, such as participatory action research and empowerment approach. 

In this design, Greene and Caracelli offer a mixture of values from different traditions (such as free bias from quantitative and charged-bias from qualitative), the application of different methods, and attention to action solutions. Many researchers of mixed methods are already implementing this idea.

The above-mixed method research "emphasizes the value-based and action dimensions of two different research traditions" (Greene & Caracelli, 1997:24). They used a theoretical perspective to reconfigure participants ' language and conversation, and then they pointed out the importance of empowerment in research.

The steps to use the theory in a mixed method proposal are:

  1. Decide what theory to use.
  2. Identify the application of the theory in conjunction with quantitative and qualitative approaches.
  3. If the theory is used as a transformational strategy in research, explain the strategy and discuss its core points in the proposed research, in which emancipatory ideas are also used.


Creswell, J.W. (1999) Mixed method research: Introduction and application. In G.J. Cizek (Ed.). Handbook of educational policy (pp. 455-472). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choos¬ing among Five Approaches ( 3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational Research: Ptoming, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.
Creswell, J.W. & Brown, M.L. (1992, Fall). How chairpersons enhance faculty research: A grounded theory study. The Review of Higher Education, 16(1), 41-62.
Creswell, J.W., & Miller, D. (2000). Determining validity in qualita¬tive inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39(3), 124-130.
Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Sage publications.
Creswell, J.W. & Piano Clark, V.L. (2007). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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