Career & Education

UWI pushes Mixed Methods Research

Sunday, December 24, 2017

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The University of the West Indies, through its School of Education, says it continues to promote the use of Mixed Methods Research (MMR). It is a methodology for conducting research that involves collecting, analysing and integrating quantitative data, for example, when a researcher examines students' test scores, and qualitative data, for example the researcher interviews those students to uncover their feelings or perceptions about the test.

Historically, researchers have tended to search for answers by using a qualitative or a quantitative research methods. MMR seeks to combine both.

The combination frequently results in superior research, according to past president of the Mixed Methods International Research Association, Professor Tony Onweugbuzie, who is also an educational psychologist and professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Sam Houston State University.

Professor Onweugbuzie was a guest presenter at a recent workshop hosted by Office of Graduate Studies and Research Unit, UWI, Mona Campus in collaboration with the Mixed Methods Research Chapter in the Caribbean (MMRCC).

The workshop targeted finalising UWI doctoral students with the aim of supporting them in their mixed methods data analysis with an emphasis on qualitative data analysis.

It was the first in a series of workshops designed to promote mixed methods research among Caribbean scholars and students.

“Research results are likely to be richer and more helpful in identifying root causes than qualitative or quantitative methods, alone,” said chair of the MMRCC and the planning committee for the workshop Dr Loraine Cook, who is also a lecturer in the School of Education.

Her views were supported by Professor John Creswell, the first president and founding member of Mixed Methods International Research Association (MMIRA). Creswell suggests that Mixed Methods Research creates the context for qualitative and quantitative research methods to compensate for the weaknesses of each other.

In an interview with Dr Canute Thompson, lecturer in the School of Education, Creswell explains that survey results, for example, which may indicate correlations between perception variables, do indicate underlying causes. Uncovering underlying causes would require the use of qualitative methods.

Professor Dale Webber, pro-vice-chancellor, Graduate Studies and Research and Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, director of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, who addressed the workshop, stated that the UWI is committed to the mission of the Mixed Methods Research Association of the Caribbean.

The UWI, they noted, is a research university and the products of the work of its researchers are intended to solve problems and advance the quality of life for the people of the Caribbean. They also shared the perspective that MMR provides a greater prospect of facilitating the discovery of more comprehensive explanations of underlying causes to complex problems.

Speaking from the perspective of a medical doctor, Dr Tomlin Paul, dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences noted that doctors have no option but to use MMR in the treatment of patients. He illustrated this by pointing to what a doctor does after he/she discovers that a patient is hypertensive (which is quantitative finding). Before prescribing treatment, the doctor undertakes a qualitative research exercise of discussing with the patient his or her lifestyle with a view to uncovering possible root causes of hypertension.

Other presenters at the workshop included Prof John Hitchcock, co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches and executive board member of the Mixed Methods International Research Association, and Professor Theresa Betancourt from Boston College's School of Social Work as the inaugural Salem Professor in Global Practice.

While the notion of “Mixed Methods Research” has only emerged in the academic community within the last 20 - 25 years, its use has been in existence for centuries. Thus, what the Mixed Methods Research of the Caribbean, with the support of Mixed Methods International Research Association is seeking to do, is to mainstream the practice of mixed methods research as a natural approach to finding solutions to complex problems faced by societies.




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