Authors: Jo Gilmartin, Philip Esterhuizen
Abstract—Teaching mixed methods research for quality improvement and translating evidence base practice to address meaningful change has become increasingly popular. In times of evidence-based and data-driven calls for improvement it is important to provide students with knowledge and skills about mixed methods research that will help with translation of research into practice. The literature identifies diverse pedagogical challenges that students face within mixed methods classrooms. Students are not usually equipped in both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The knowledge gap can result in deep pedagogical challenges compromising student’s ability to fully understand the mixed methods paradigm. Although we are shifting from a teacher centred (pedagogical) to a learner centred, self-directed approach (andragogical) student reluctance to engage with blackboard activities and critical appraisal of mixed methods design and papers persists. The present study explores the student predicament/reluctance by collecting written reflections at the end of a mixed methods post graduate study day and across a post graduate module on mixed methods research. A reflective teaching-learning methodology was employed aligned to the self-inquiry model. Using a systematic framework for content data analysis, two distinct categories were revealed. There relate to ‘barriers’ and ‘enablers’ that influenced the quality of the learning event. Several barriers and enablers were identified ranging from difficult paradigm/methodology language, grappling with diverse mixed methods designs/language, and the challenge of using critical appraisal tools, interpreting mixed methods data, to the benefits of small group work, the insights gained from critiquing mixed methods papers and the importance of a positive student-teacher relationship. To tackle the myriad of challenges encountered, innovative teaching strategies and the sustainability of student centred approaches will be considered to lever up and empower the learning climate in mixed methods classrooms.
Keywords: mixed methods research, pedagogical challenges, student reflections, innovative teaching strategies.