Mixed Methods Of Research: Research Paradigms With The Time Has Come

Mixed Methods Of Research: Research Paradigms


The purposes of this article are to position mixed methods research (mixed research is a synonym) as the natural complement to traditional qualitative and quantitative research, to present pragmatism as offering an attractive philosophical partner for mixed methods research, and to provide a framework for designing and conducting mixed methods research. 

In doing this, we briefly review the paradigm "wars" and incompatibility thesis, we show some commonalities between quantitative and qualitative research, we explain the tenets of pragmatism, we explain the fundamental principle of mixed research and how to apply it, and we provide specific sets of designs for the two major types of mixed methods research (mixed-model designs and mixed-method designs), and, finally, we explain mixed methods research as following (recursively) an eight-step process. 

A key feature of mixed methods research is its methodological pluralism or eclecticism, which frequently results in superior research (compared to monomethod research). Mixed methods research will be successful as more investigators study and help advance its concepts and as they regularly practice it.

For more than a century, the advocates of quantitative and qualitative research paradigms have engaged in an ardent dispute.1 From these debates, purists have emerged on both sides (cf. Campbell & Stanley, 1963; Lincoln & Guba, 1985).2 Quantitative purists (Ayer, 1959; Maxwell & Delaney, 2004; Popper, 1959; Schrag, 1992) articulate assumptions that are consistent with what is commonly called a positivist philosophy.

That is, quantitative purists, believe that social observations should be treated as entities in much the same way that physical scientists treat physical phenomena. Further, they contend that the observer is separate from the entities that are subject to observation. Quantitative purists maintain that social science inquiry should be objective. 

That is, time- and context-free generalizations (Nagel, 1986) are desirable and possible, and real causes of social scientific outcomes can be determined reliably and validly. According to this school of thought, educational re- searchers should eliminate their biases, remain emotionally detached and uninvolved with the objects of study, and test or empirically justify their stated hypotheses.

Commonalities Among the Traditional Paradigms 

Although there are many important paradigmatic differences be- tween qualitative and quantitative research (which have been frequently written about in the Educational Researcher and other places), there are some similarities between the various approaches that are sometimes overlooked. For example, both quantitative and qualitative researchers use empirical observations to address research questions.

Philosophical Issues Debates 

As noted by Onwuegbuzie and Teddlie (2003), some individuals who engage in the qualitative versus quantitative paradigm debate appear to confuse the logic of justification with research methods. That is, there is a tendency among some researchers to treat epistemology and method as being synonymous (Bryman, 1984; Howe, 1992).

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