Administering Quantitative Instruments with Qualitative Interviews: A Mixed Research Approach

Article excerpt

For practitioners in the field of counseling, the combining or mixing of qualitative and quantitative methodologies is not a new or unique phenomenon. In fact, as surmised by Powell, Mihalas, Onwuegbuzie, Suldo, and Daley (2008), "by definition, assessment, whether for purposes of program planning or treatment, necessitates the consideration of multiple sources of data" (p. 293). In addition, as stated in Section E (i.e., Evaluation, Assessment, and Interpretation) of the ACA Code of Ethics (American Counseling Association, 2005), counselors use both quantitative and qualitative assessments in practice. Counselor researchers and counselors-as-practitioners routinely collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data as a necessary part of their profession. Therefore, the purpose of this article is threefold: (a) to demonstrate that regardless of philosophical stance, collecting quantitative data via psychometrically sound quantitative instruments during the qualitative interview process enhances interpretations by helping researchers better contextualize qualitative findings; (b) to explain the concept of the mixed methods interview; and (c) to provide an example demonstrating this strategy whereby a baseline was established using a quantitative scale and normative data as a mixed research approach.

On the basis of definitions provided by 19 leading methodologists of mixed methods research, or more aptly named as mixed research to denote the fact that more than methods typically are mixed (e.g., philosophical assumptions and stances, research questions), Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, and Turner (2007) defined mixed research as

   an intellectual and practical synthesis based on qualitative and
   quantitative research; it is the third methodological or research
   paradigm (along with qualitative and quantitative research). It
   recognizes the importance of traditional quantitative and
   qualitative research but also offers a powerful third paradigm
   choice that often will provide the most informative, complete,
   balanced, and useful research results. Mixed methods research is
   the research paradigm that (a) partners with the philosophy of
   pragmatism in one of its forms (left, right, middle); (b) follows
   the logic of mixed methods research (including the logic of the
   fundamental principle and any other useful logics imported from
   qualitative or quantitative research that are helpful for producing
   defensible and usable research findings); (c) relies on qualitative
   and quantitative viewpoints, data collection, analysis, and
   inference techniques combined according to the logic of mixed
   methods research to address one's research question(s); and (d) is
   cognizant, appreciative, and inclusive of local and broader
   sociopolitical realities, resources, and needs. (p. 129)

If we take into account the integrative nature of counseling, it is surprising that relatively few counseling researchers combine or mix qualitative and quantitative data in their studies. Ray et al. (2011), who recently reviewed 4,457 articles from 1998 to 2007 in 15 ACA division-affiliated journals, identified only 171 mixed research articles, which represented only 3.84% of the total number of articles published in these journals. In fact, this finding is consistent with other researchers' studies examining counseling journals that documented the lack of mixed research articles for either empirical research articles or nonempirical research articles (e.g., theoretical/ conceptual articles; Hanson, Creswell, Piano Clark, Petska, & Creswell, 2005; Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2011).

Similar to other fields and disciplines, the low prevalence rates of mixed research articles published in counseling journals have occurred despite the exponential increase in the number of methodologically based mixed research articles that have been published in the literature (Ivankova & Kawamura, 2010), including two handbooks (i. …