Participant Perspectives and the Mixed Methods Approach
BTM 7303, Assignment 11
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Susan Petroshius
18 December 2017
What did you think of the length of each survey instrument? Was there a point at which you began to feel tired or paid less attention to the items?
The length of each survey instrument was short enough to where I did not lose focus during the process but long enough to gather the desired information. While there was not a certain point at which I began to pay less attention or lose interest, I did notice a psychological shift on the third page of survey questions. This shift, I concluded, was the result of not knowing the number of pages and questions involved before beginning to respond to the survey questions. The uncertainty caused me to rush through the questions at a hurried pace, not knowing how many questions remained and how much time would be required to complete the survey.
This affects my potential study in that it has enhanced my understanding of the importance of clearly communicating the length and depth of the survey questions being asked of the respondents. Not only will this keep respondents from losing focus and half-heartedly answering questions, but it will also ensure that my own conclusions are based upon the most thoughtful answers to survey questions.
What did you think of the open-ended questions? Were they clear? Did they seem leading? Did they seem concise or too wordy?
The open-ended questions were mixed in that some were clear and easy to answer while others were very ambiguous. For example, the first open-ended question in the survey asked me to write a metaphor to describe the climate of Northcentral University. While the question itself called for creativity, and stated as much in the wording of the question, it was nonetheless confusing. If the question was designed to understand my perception of the climate of Northcentral University, it would have been clearer to perhaps ask me to select a number from one to ten. This would have not only been less confusing, but it also would have provided numerical data for the researcher to more objectively understand student perceptions regarding school climate.
The second and third open-ended questions were less confusing, even asking for specific examples of what made the student feel a certain way (connected to faculty or other students). I did not understand this to be a leading question, and thought the wording of the question accomplished the goal of forcing the student to be precise with their response. I also felt that the data gathered was likely to be valuable.
Did you prefer completing the closed questions (or multiple-choice questions) or the open-ended questions? Why?
I personally preferred to complete the closed questions as opposed to the open-ended questions simply due to the clarity and conciseness of the closed questions. For most questions, there were several options dealing with either frequency of events (almost always to almost never) or level of agreement or disagreement with a statement (strongly agree to strongly disagree). There was little ambiguity in the closed questions and the potential responses, though limited, were appropriate for the questions being asked.
Which methodology do you believe is most useful in the examination of each variable/construct? Why?
Though this survey utilized mixed methodologies, I believe the most useful was the quantitative methodological approach as opposed to the qualitative approach. The qualitative questions, while allowing for a wider variety of responses, are more difficult to categorize and analyze due to the subjective nature of the responses. Quantitative approaches permit each variable to be objectively weighted and quickly and easily categorized by the researcher. In examining each variable within a study, quantitative methodologies provide not only a more expedient examination process but a more useful process as well.
How might this experience influence you when designing your own research?
This assignment was very helpful in thinking through my own research design. Before beginning this class and, more specifically, completing this assignment, my inclination was toward a qualitative methodology. My thinking process was that it would allow me, the researcher, to get information that would probe deeper than simple numbers and statistics. However, after being on the receiving end of a survey (in addition to the other assignments in this class) which provided both quantitative and qualitative questions, I can see the research benefits of a quantitative approach and how they provide greater benefit to the research than a qualitative approach. My thinking has evolved to conclude that quantitative questions and a quantitative design would be the best approach for my own research study.
Reflection on Mixed Methods Design
There are certainly benefits to a mixed methodology approach to research design. Firstly, a mixed methods approach to research design allows the researcher to broaden their scope of information and data gathered from the research subjects. Mertens (2015) acknowledges this benefit of a mixed methods approach by saying that mixed methods researchers "seek a common understanding through triangulating data from multiple methods or to use multiple lenses simultaneously to achieve alternative perspectives that are not reduced to a single understanding."
For example, in the survey completed this week there were questions aimed at developing an understanding of student perceptions of organizational culture at Northcentral University. Questions were designed to collect both quantitative data (I feel a spirit of community between the faculty and myself while I am working on my coursework) as well as qualitative data (The climate at Northcentral University is like…). This approach allows researchers not only to gather statistical data about the research problem, but also data “outside the box” from those most directly affected by the problem. This mixed methods approach then, combines both the benefits of a quantitative and qualitative approach within the same study.
Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004) describe this unique benefit of the mixed methods approach to research design by noting that this methodology is exclusively able to “draw from the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both in single research studies and across studies.” This benefit is only available in a mixed methods approach to research design and eliminates certain drawbacks or shortcomings from an either exclusively quantitative or qualitative research design and methodology.
A further benefit to a mixed methods approach to research design is that it serves as a qualifier for the type of research being conducted. Bryman (2006) noted that classifying research as employing a mixed methods approach “conveys a sense of the rigour of the research and provides guidance to others about what researchers intend to do or have done (for example, funding bodies and journal editors).” Similarly, Creswell et. al (2003) suggested that the nomenclature of “mixed-methods” itself brings about certain advantages such as conveying research intentions to prospective readers.
While these benefits exist within a mixed methods approach, there are certain drawbacks as well. A mixed methods approach would prove more difficult to the researcher in ensuring that his/her research questions were being directly addressed. Onwuegbuzie & Leech (2006) address this when they say that, “forming research questions is much more difficult in mixed methods studies than in monomethod (i.e., quantitative or qualitative) investigations because it involves the formation of both quantitative and qualitative research questions within the same inquiry.” In other words, a monomethod study ensures that all research questions are designed similarly, but this is not the case in a mixed approach.
Survey questions that are all selected by the researcher and are quantitative in nature, for example, provide a greater degree of certainty to the researcher that their research questions are being addressed in a way that benefits the research and helps solve the research problem. This same line of reasoning would also prove true with a research design that is entirely qualitative in nature. However, a mixed methods approach to research design may provide two different types of data which may or may not directly address the questions being asked by the researcher. Similarly, the responses may or may not help solve the research problem.
In reflecting on the potential benefits and drawbacks of a mixed methods approach, I have concluded that, while undeniable benefits exist, a quantitative approach is more suitable to the research design I am seeking to employ. A mixed methods approach is not only more tedious for the researcher but, more importantly, as I noted earlier, it allows input from research subjects which may not contribute to answering the research questions or solving the research problem. It is theoretically possible to list qualitative questions in your survey and receive no feedback which is helpful or beneficial. Within a quantitative research design, the researcher maintains control over both the questions and responses to ensure that all feedback received is in line with the intent of the research and positively contributes to answering the research questions and solving the research problem.
Bryman, A. (2006). “Integrating quantitative and qualitative research: How is it done?”. Qualitative Research, Vol 6(1), Feb, 2006. pp. 97-113. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
Creswell, J.W. (2003) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Johnson, R. & Onwuegbuzie, A. (2004). “Mixed Methods Research: A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come” Educational Researcher, v33 n7 p14-26 Oct 2004. 13 pp. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
Mertens, D.M. (2015). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Onwuegbuzie, A. & Leech, N. (2006). “Linking Research Questions to Mixed Methods Data Analysis Procedures” Qualitative Report, v11 n3 p474-498 Sep 2006. 25 pp. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
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