Valuing Multiple and Mixed Methods for Educational Policy Research in the Caribbean: Illustrative Cases Privileging Epistemological Diversity
The question of “which method” is fundamental to the utility of educational policy research within postcolonial contexts such as the Anglophone Caribbean. Although qualitative approaches are more sensitive to these unique contexts, the heterogeneity of populations and spaces are a significant threat to the generalizability and transferability of findings. Therefore, to generate comprehensive and contextualized theory, Caribbean policy researchers must adopt a multiplist philosophy which explicitly privileges multiple and mixed methods. This paper first describes some critical issues related to education policy research in the Anglophone Caribbean and global South. It then illustrates the value of promoting epistemological diversity in this context by examining three mixed methods research (MMR) policy studies conducted in Trinidad and Tobago. All three illustrative studies were guided by paradigm stances favouring the mixing of methods. The findings suggest that MMR does offer a degree of flexibility that might capture heterogeneity and lack of local knowledge. Integrated findings were divergent and comprehensive, but there was limited instrumental use by policymakers. Additionally, indigenous epistemologies were not adopted. The future challenge is for Caribbean policy researchers to make better use of MMR designs that incorporate indigenous epistemologies and employ strategies to enhance the political legitimation of findings.
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