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CHS Mixed Methods Workshop

Mixed Methods Workshop Helps Faculty Academics and Post Graduate students do Better

The University of the Western Cape's (UWC) Department of Occupational Therapy, together with the Office of the Vice-Chancellor: Academic, hosted a Mixed Methods Workshop at the School of Public Health on 17 April 2014.

The workshop aimed to clarify several approaches to research. Some studies call for quantitative research involving data that's easily put in numeric form. Some studies call for qualitative research, with data that may be equally important, but that isn't so easily categorised. Other studies may call for a combination of the two research methods, or what's come to be known as mixed methods research, expanding across disciplines and nations.

The event was facilitated by John W. Creswell, Professor and PhD candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a renowned author and researcher on qualitative methodology, general research design and mixed method research. In addition to holding prestigious posts at various institutions, Prof Cresswell served as founding co-editor of the SAGE journal, the Journal of Mixed Methods Research, and has published over 20 books focusing on research designs, which have been translated into many languages.

Assisted by Tim Guetterman, a research scientist and doctoral student in Research Methodology, also of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Prof Cresswell provided an overview of mixed methods research. After discussing how to distinguish mixed methods studies, the history of mixed methods, and when to use them, the workshop moved on to the specifics of qualitative research. Participants learned how to conceptualise a qualitative research problem, to identify the appropriate procedures for data collection and to validate qualitative research findings, among other things.

Five postgraduate students were given the opportunity to present a study they are each currently working on, or desire to conduct, accompanied by a one-page description of their chosen study – a study that involves both quantitative and qualitative data. Prof Cresswell and the academics and researchers present at the workshop were granted the opportunity to ask a few questions and provide some valued perspective with regards to the research topics at hand.

Anja Human-Hendricks, one of the participants who presented their research at the workshop, found the workshop to be of such value that she would definitely recommend it to other students. “The input and feedback received from the academic panel was very useful in adapting and improving our studies,” she said. “Prof Creswell is a phenomenal researcher, and his presence was an asset to our learning and growth as developing researchers.”

Juliana Joan Willemse also found the workshop to be a valuable experience. “It was a great honor to attend a workshop where such a renowned author in research methodology was the main speaker,” she remarked. “ It provided clarity on areas that I was challenged with as I am doing mixed methodology in my PhD research. And to be granted an opportunity to present your own research to an author of such esteem was one of the most rewarding academic achievements for me as a student of the University of the Western Cape.”

Any student who does research using mixed methods should be granted an opportunity to attend a workshop such as this, she concluded. “Who would not find a workshop on mixed methodology presented by John Creswell useful?” says Willemse.