Cross -disciplinary analysis of the use of mixed methods in physics education research, counseling psychology, and primary care
Mixed methods research incorporates the collection, analysis, and mixing of qualitative and quantitative data within a single study (Creswell, 2005). It is a relatively new approach in social science research (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003a). Since this approach is in its “adolescence,” there remain many unresolved issues about its use (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003b). Previous research has studied the use of mixed methods within single disciplines, but no previous study has investigated the use of mixed methods in multiple disciplines. In addition, no review of mixed methods studies has been augmented by interviewing mixed methods scholars.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the use of mixed methods research in the disciplines of Physics Education Research, Counseling Psychology, and Primary Care. The findings of this study are based on three types of data including 60 empirical mixed methods articles, published discussions about mixed methods research, and interviews with twelve mixed methods researchers.
The analysis of these data resulted in three major findings. First, four major types of mixed methods designs, along with common variations, were identified in the empirical articles using the framework of Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, and Hanson (2003). Next, the current use of mixed methods within the three disciplines was described. Finally, cross-case themes revealed attitudes that influence the use of mixed methods, logistical and feasibility issues faced by researchers choosing a mixed methods approach, analogies used to discuss this approach, and steps for establishing a new research method.
The results of this study are of value to researchers who want to learn how other researchers apply these techniques within their own studies. Methodologists can gain new perspectives about how researchers perceive mixed methods research and the issues involved with implementing this approach in practice. Methodologists will also have a description of the current status of this new methodological approach and better understanding of the process by which a new method is established within different disciplines.
0344: Social research