Is Mixed Methods Research Used in Australian Career Development Research?

By Cameron, Roslyn | Australian Journal of Career Development, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Is Mixed Methods Research Used in Australian Career Development Research?


Cameron, Roslyn, Australian Journal of Career Development


Cameron (2009a) drew attention to the many discipline-based studies that have systematically reviewed the use of mixed methods in the following areas: social and human sciences (Bryman, 2008; Plano Clark, 2005); business and management research (Bazeley, 2008; Cameron, 2008; HurmerintaPeltomaki & Nummela, 2006; Mingers, 2003; Molina-Azorin, 2007; Rocco, Bliss, Gallagher & PerezPrado, 2003); and education and evaluation research (Greene, Caracelli & Graham, 1989). Creswell and Plano Clark (2007, p. 18) have concluded that 'today, we see cross-cultural international interest, interdisciplinary interest, publication possibilities, and public and private funding opportunities for mixed methods research'. An aim of this article is to gauge the presence and acceptance of mixed methods research within the career development research community, as represented by research and literature published in the Australian Journal of Career Development (2004-2009). The article provides an overview of studies that have investigated the use of mixed methods in the related fields of psychology, school psychology and vocational education and training (VET). This study replicates the methodology employed by Cameron (2009a) who conducted a systematic review of conference papers (2007 and 2008 Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association--AVETRA--conferences) and journal articles from the International Journal of Training Research from 2003 to 2008.

O'Cathain, Murphy and Nicholl (2008) developed a set of quality criteria guidelines for reporting mixed methods studies in health services research: the Good Reporting of a Mixed Methods Study (GRAMMS). This six-item guidance framework includes prompts about the 'success of the study, the mixed methods design, the individual qualitative and quantitative components, the integration between methods and the inferences drawn from completed studies' (O'Cathain, Murphy & Nicholl, 2008, p. 92). The GRAMMS includes the following set of quality guidelines:

* describe the justification for using a mixed methods approach to the research question

* describe the design in terms of the purpose, priority and sequence of methods

* describe each method in terms of sampling, data collection and analysis

* describe where integration has occurred, how it has occurred and who has participated in it

* describe any limitation of one method associated with the presence of the other method

* describe any insights gained from mixing or integrating methods.

These are the types of quality guidelines and frameworks that need to be attended to when researchers engage in mixed methods work.

This article will briefly attend to mixed methods definitions before introducing a framework for judging discipline acceptance levels of mixed methods. An exploration of drivers and reasons for using mixed methods follows along with a discussion on three studies that explored the use of mixed methods in fields related to career development (psychology; school psychology; and vocational education and training--VET).

DEFINITIONS OF MIXED METHODS RESEARCH

Mixed methods research has been labelled in many ways and many definitions exist. Ivankova, Creswell and Stick (2006, p. 3) define mixed methods as:

   A procedure for collecting analysing, and 'mixing'
   or integrating both quantitative and qualitative
   data at some stage of the research process within
   a single study for the purpose of gaining a better
   understanding of the research problem.

Greene (2007, p. 13) took the view that mental models play a central role in the mixed methods movement:

   The core meaning of mixing methods in social
   inquiry is to invite multiple mental models into
   the same inquiry space for purposes of respectful
   conversation, dialogue, and learning one from
   the other, toward a collective generation of better
   understanding of the phenomenon being studied. … 

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