Although researchers have utilized both qualitative and quantitative approaches in their work for years, only in the past few decades have they begun to combine these methods – a development that, many argue, leads to more holistic results that address increasingly complex issues.
When School of Nursing Associate Professor Joe Gaugler received a training award from the National Institutes of Health called "Adult Day Service Utilization and Outcomes: A Mixed Methods Approach,” he saw a great opportunity to expand resources for mixed methods research at the University.
One of the goals of this five-year project, funding by the National Institute on Aging, is to create graduate training curricula and research infrastructure in mixed methods. A doctoral seminar (NURS 8195: Mixed Methods in the Behavioral, Social and Applied Health Sciences) is now offered each spring semester to provide students with the opportunity to apply mixed methods design strategies to their own research projects.
But Dr. Gaugler wanted to expand the reach of mixed methods research beyond course development. His goal was to create a university-wide, interdisciplinary community of scholars with a mutual interest in learning more about mixed methods research and its applications. The Graduate School’s Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program provided an ideal framework for Gaugler to create the Mixed Methods Interdisciplinary Graduate Group (MMIGG).
The purpose of MMIGG is to explore and expand understanding of the integration and synthesis of qualitative and quantitative methods of scientific inquiry. Broad topics of interest include the philosophy/paradigmatic underpinnings of mixed methods research, types of mixed methods designs, key methodological issues of concern (sampling, measurement, and analysis), synthesis and dissemination of mixed methods research, and quality in mixed methods research.
MMIGG is engaged in a number of activities throughout the year, including informal, monthly meetings of members to discuss critical topics and research in mixed methods; seminars and webinars on key topics related to mixed methods research conducted by internationally-renowned scholars; and MMIGG-led seminars that provide overviews of mixed methods research for faculty, students, or staff in various academic units throughout the University of Minnesota. MMIGG is also exploring the possibility of offering a dissertation scholarship on mixed methods.
Dr. Gaugler is pleased that MMIGG has evolved into a place for students, staff and faculty at all levels of experience and interest to discuss mixed method topics. The monthly meetings, regular seminars, and online repository of mixed methods resources provide a foundation for its members to advance a mixed method resource approach. “MMIGG is a community that allows interdisciplinary scholars to incorporate mixed methods concepts and principles in their existing research designs,” says Dr. Gaugler.
More information about MMIGG is available at http://z.umn.edu/mmigg.