The Use of Hermeneutics in a Mixed Methods Design

By von Zweck, Claudia; Paterson, Margo et al. | The Qualitative Report, March 2008 | Go to article overview

The Use of Hermeneutics in a Mixed Methods Design


von Zweck, Claudia, Paterson, Margo, Pentland, Wendy, The Qualitative Report


Combining methods in a single study is becoming a more common practice because of the limitations of using only one approach to fully address all aspects of a research question. Hermeneutics in this paper is discussed in relation to a large national study that investigated issues influencing the ability of international graduates to work as occupational therapists in Canada. Using methods that reflect different ontological and epistemological beliefs was necessary to attain a comprehensive view of enablers and barriers that influence workforce integration. Hermeneutics proved to be a credible and flexible strategy for combining methods to create a deep understanding of acculturation issues for international occupational therapy graduates wishing to work in Canada. Key Words: Qualitative Methods, Multi-method Approach, and International Mobility

Introduction

The use of hermeneutics has grown from its roots in the interpretation of Greek classical literature. Although traditionally known as a method to identify the meaning and intent of Biblical scripture, the rules and principles of hermeneutics have become used not only for understanding written information, but also for interpreting human practices, events, and situations (Crotty, 1998). Hermeneutics can therefore serve as a strategy to address a broad range of research questions. This paper explores the rationale for using hermeneutics for studies with a mixed methods design, by describing its application in a large national project that explored issues influencing the ability of international graduates to work as occupational therapists in Canada. The study demonstrated the flexibility and utility of hermeneutics for gathering and interpreting information from a range of sources. While the results of the study are reported elsewhere (von Zweck, 2006), this paper provides a review of essential hermeneutic constructs and their application within this project. It is hoped that beginning researchers and others will gain understanding of the rigour and adaptability offered by this approach and consider hermeneutics as a credible strategy for using mixed methods in their own work.

Research Issue

Acculturation refers to a phenomenon that occurs when different cultural groups come together, such as when immigrants come from their homelands to settle and work in Canada. Acculturation results in the need for individuals to develop new relationships and behaviours to adapt to their changing environment (Berry & Sam, 1997). A wide range of outcomes may occur as a result of acculturation. Workforce integration is the acculturation outcome promoted in Canadian society for immigrants settling in this country and occurs when immigrants are able to work in their chosen profession as well as have the opportunity to retain their cultural identity from their society-of-origin (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2001). However, despite demand for occupational therapy services that exceeds supply in many areas, a significant number of internationally educated occupational therapists currently experience difficulties with workforce integration in Canada.

International graduates who wish to work as occupational therapists in Canada must successfully manage a cumbersome process involving meeting Canadian immigration requirements, fulfilling professional entry-to-practice criteria, finding employment as occupational therapists, and relocating and settling in Canada. Entry-to-practice criteria are established provincially by regulatory organizations and vary in different jurisdictions across the country. Requirements in most provinces include an academic credential review, an assessment of language competency, and successful completion of a national certification examination.

Claudia was appointed by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) to conduct this research with funding from the Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program. …

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