Volume 18 (2011)
The Benefits and Challenges of Mixing Methods and Methodologies: Lessons Learnt from Implementing Qualitatively Led Mixed Methods Research Designs in Trinidad and Tobago
There is increasing interest in the field of mixed methods research and the diverse ways in which quantitative and qualitiative methodologies can be systematically combined. The first part of this paper describes the emergence of mixed mentods research as a community of practice, distinct from the two dominant paradigms. The second part explores different mixed methodsÂ designs described in current typologies, with an emphasis on combinations that place equal or greater emphasis on the qualitative. I argue here that such designs, in which the qualitative is lead or dominant, are most useful for exploring complex and multiplex issues of education. I illustrate this argument with an analysis of the role of the qualitative in two recently conducted mixed methods research studies. The first was a concurrent nested (QUAL dominant) investigation of schools facing challenging cirumstances and the seocond was a multilevel mixed methods study of secondary school choice in Trinidad and Tobago. The three lessons learnt were that (1) appropriate mental models and design rules in typologies are necessary for efficient implementatioin, (2) interaction between and across research teams can facititate integration of qualitative and quantitative findings, and (3) qualitiative findings can add value to meta-inferences by providing new, additional, or even conflicting perspectives. I then discuss the challenge of implementing mixed methods research studies in the Caribbean, including the need for attention to using quality criteria and targeting greater levels of integration.
Keywords: Research Methodology; Mixed Methods Research; Educational Research; Trinidad and Tobago