Mixed methods

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What does mixed methods evaluation involve and how can it be used? Does a mix of qualitative and quantitative data mean that you have a mixed methods evaluation design? Or is there more to it? Hopefully, you will find the answers here.

A mixed methods design in the truest sense means that both quantitative and qualitative research methods are used and both forms of data are collected, analysed and interpreted. Quantitative methods are usually pre-determined, for example, survey or focus group, whereas qualitative methods may emerge as the evaluation progresses. For example, an interview may be conducted without structured questions being prepared beforehand or the evaluator may observe without a clear idea about the sort of data that will be collected. Hence a mixed methods design uses both pre-determined and emerging methods. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected. Also, multiple forms of data will be gathered to ensure triangulation. Ah that lovely word. What does it mean?

Firstly, let us look at the differences between quantitative and qualitative data. Simply put, quantitative data is gathered using closed-ended questionnaires or psychological instruments. Qualitative questions are open-ended and can be included in questionnaires but would also be used in interviews or focus groups.

Quantitative example - closed-ended questionnaire and a checklist observation might be used

Questions would use a Likert-type scale. For example: The ebook helped me to learn. Strongly agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Statistical analysis is used to analyse quantitative data to measure and describe it (percentages, average, median etc.) and to compare it (t-tests, F-tests etc.)

Qualitative example - Questions are open-ended and might be gathered through a survey or an interview or both

How did the ebook help you to learn? Text and other media analysis is used to find themes and patterns in the data.

Mixed Methods example - use a questionnaire with both closed-ended and open-ended questions
This could be followed by focus group interviews using semi-structures questions. Triangulation occurs because a mix of different types of data are collected using a variety of methods. Also, data would be analysed and interpreted using multiple ways to do this. Descriptive statistics as well as thematic analysis looking for common themes and patterns. This allows inconsistencies in the data to emerge.


Cresswell, J. (2014). Research design: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches.(4th edn). London: Sage.