All entries for March 2016

March 24, 2016

Reflection period: January to March

Thoughts and condolences to all the families of the victims of recent terrorist attacks

First of all, I offer my condolences to the families of all the victims of the recent terrorist attacks since I wrote my previous blog post: Brussels, Belgium; Istanbul, Turkey; Ankara, Turkey, and Maiduguri, Nigeria. Regardless of who they are, what God or Gods they believe in, wherever they are in the world, whatever their culture and whatever their race, all the families deserve to have a sense of peace in the face of tragedy and extreme hostile conditions. Terrorism has no religion.

Anyway, whilst I do have my thoughts and opinions on the issue this is not the place for them. This is not political, theological or a news blog except in relation to Education and Educational research at my own choosing. Despite that, I felt compelled not to ignore the recent tragedies. Now, on with the rest of the blog post!

Time for some reflection!

Heading towards the celebrations that occur at this time of year (again not going into it on here: this is not a theological blog) it is also the time of year for reflection and planning: I reflect on where I have come during the past few months and the plan for the next few months.

The past week or so has observed a culmination in what has been about six months of careful consideration and planning of the research design, and I can state that is has been a successful culmination because I have now settled on the direction of the research design. This includes the philosophical approach, the methodological approach, and the methods of data collection and analysis that shall be adopted. In a general sense I should say: when it comes to some of the methods I need to complete the task of developing them (e.g., complete the development work of the questionnaire technique and the grounded theory technique), but in a general sense the design is now in place.

Looking back to the blog posts in January I wrote about the excitement that I had about settling on a convergence parallel (triangulated) mixed methods approach after rather quickly identifying a problem with the previous approach that I had settled on: constructivist grounded theory. The problems were based on converging or in some way adopting multiple perspectives of data within a constructivist grounded theory approach, as it only works well with a constructivist or an interpretivist perspective and is not compatible with other perspectives such as post positivism. Using mixed methods methodology did resolve the questions I had in the later part of the previous year regarding in what way could I reconcile multiple perspectives of reality but this introduced another question: which Philosophical perspective would best guide Mixed Methods itself?

For the past couple of months I have been considering several of what I call middle ground philosophies, which guides the management of philosophical perspectives at either side of the philosophical spectrum with a mixed methods approach. These middle ground Philosophies were: post positivism, complexity theory, pragmatism and critical realism. After much deliberation and general readings of each perspective, it was decided that critical realism was the most preferred and most suitable philosophical guide. That is not to discredit all the other approaches, indeed various research papers describe a mixing of these approaches, but they simply would not work for my research. I should point out that I in no way claim that I know everything about these approaches: my approach to understanding them involved reading general literature about each perspective and then applying them in theory to the problem area that the Ph.D. is exploring. You could say that I have adopted the belief that problem area defines the Philosophical perspective for that area, because a clearly identified and defined problem area can inform a Philosophical approach. However, you then could start asking questions about what drives the development of the problem area in the first place and whether or not we already have a set of preferences of the way we view reality and therefore subconsciously develop the problem area with this perspective in mind before we even realise. So essentially, I can class this current reflection period as a success in terms of deciding on the philosophical approach of the Mixed Methods research.

Another aspect of the Ph.D. that has now been resolved is at the practical level: the designing of the tasks and the questions that shall lead discussions that shall generate the data needed to answer the research questions. I have planned out the practical context for both the trial for the Upgrade paper and the full implementation for the thesis. This is now a success: just a matter of actually implementing and carrying out the trial and reporting on it in the upgrade paper.

Engaging with the philosophical level of mixed methods was actually not expected and was therefore unplanned, because at the beginning of the year I had not realise that extent of the middle ground philosophies so I had to put time aside to understand them enough to determine the suitability. I realised there was a problem, but at that time I had not actually considered fully the idea of mixed methods having a philosophy in its own right when I came to the previous set of planning activities. But it is an area that has unexpectedly fascinated me.

Because of the unplanned time that it took I have not written as much to the upgrade paper as I had originally planned to be completed by this time; however, this can be turned round to an opportunity and a bonus because since I have engaged with the philosophical level of mixed methods I can now write a more comprehensive and complete upgrade paper. My research design feels more complete now than it did at the beginning of the year, and that will lead to a more effective upgrade paper.

The other change that has happened during the past few months is the direction of the planned research paper to be written this year. I was initially considering writing a research paper on the questionnaire that I am developing for the research as I think that this is unique enough to warrant a paper, but I have changed my mind on this for now. Following a conversation with my supervisor earlier this year I am planning to write a research paper on critical realism. There are various unresolved problems and ongoing debates with critical realism independent of any research methodology, and when in use with mixed methods. Therefore, if I can identify all of these problems and present a solution to any identified problem, either an existing problem in the context of mixed methods or a problem that has not been previously dealt with in the context of mixed methods, I could be in line to write and publish a research paper on the subject, which is quite exciting!

Summary

In all, I think it has been a successful period between January and March. I had formed the practical aspects of the research and I have decided on the middle ground Philosophy that shall guide the Mixed Methods research. There has not been as much work done to the upgrade paper as was originally planned because of the unexpected yet interesting and useful engagement with mixed methods at the Philosophical level, but this has proven to be an opportunity to write a more complete and comprehensive upgrade paper, and that is not a bad thing. Opportunities have opened up in terms of potential research paper publication, and also writing a more complete and comprehensive thesis!

‘till next time, happy Easter or whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year!


March 18, 2016

Mixed Methods: Critical Realism Considered Most Suitable!

Critical realism deals with ontology! Yes!

Critical realism has been developed by the British Philosopher Ray Bhaskar as a result of combining separate philosophies: transcendental realism, which is a philosophy of science, and critical naturalism, which is a philosophy of the social sciences. It is not the aim of this blog post to explain either of them. Critical realism does not assume reality to be a single, observable, measurable, determinable layer whose actions and events are independent of the mind nor a single layer that is understandable through exploring experiences and perspectives. Critical realism assumes reality to have multiple layers containing structures and mechanisms that influence the observable and what can be experienced. It is the exploration of these structures and mechanism that provide the basis for exploration of reality using critical realism.


Unlike pragmatism, which is considered to be the most adopted philosophical perspective of mixed methods, critical realism contains ontological assumptions which are spread across three domains: the empirical, the actual, and the real. The empirical domain refers to aspects of reality that exists and can be observed or experienced directly or indirectly, the actual refers to aspects of reality that exists but might not be observed or experienced in some way, and the real refers to the structures and mechanisms that causes or influences what is observed or experienced. These structures and mechanisms are beyond the realm of human observation and experiences; they cannot be detected, known, or perceived, but can be, as defined by McVoy and Richards (2006), inferred through a research design consisting of both deductive (empirical investigation) and inductive (theory construction) processes. Where critical realism differs from all the other middle ground philosophies therefore, and what acts as the central reasoning for adoption in this mixed methods research, is that it places a focus on further understanding and explanations of these structures and mechanisms.


Relating Critical Realism To Research Context

Critical realism is a complicated middle ground philosophy probably the most complex of them all along with complexity theory, but it is a middle ground philosophy that makes the most sense for my research and for the aims of the research. The context of the Ph.D. research is not to explore research phenomena using only quantitative or qualitative methodologies; the problem area identified and developed does not assume that answers can be found in a single methodology or a single philosophical perspective such as absolutism or relativism. The problem area assumes that answers can be found through an integrated approach that involves both quantitative and qualitative approaches. So, with that, and with critical realism addressing the ontological level, it can be assumed that critical realism goes beyond the research question and places the research problem as central to the research project. It assumes, it can be proposed, that it is the identified problem area that can lead to the development of philosophical assumptions about reality, which then lead onto the development of research questions, which then lead onto the selection of the methodology and research approaches. A question here however is whether or not the philosophical perspective leads onto the development of the research question sequentially, or if the research questions and philosophical perspectives are identified and developed concurrently. That is something to be thought about and perhaps discussed another time.


Summary Of Thoughts Regarding Critical Realism

What has been discussed, briefly, is what makes critical realism distinctive and more suitable for my research than other middle ground philosophies. Post positivism focusses too much on the quantitative at the methodological level whilst pragmatism focusses too much on changes that are made at the practical level. Critical realism suggests that both quantitative and qualitative approaches are important to use in a single research project in order to fully explore and understand the structures and mechanisms of what can be observed and experienced.


There is much more to learn and understand about critical realism: its concepts, its use, its history, and the way in which critical realism can be fully integrated into a mixed methods research and the specific context of my research. Reading shall be continuous, but at the moment I am just pleased that I have been able to identify the most appropriate middle ground philosophy and start to fit the whole design around the principles of critical realism.


Fun stuff! The Upgrade Paper shall be used to introduce critical realism and the way in which its concepts have been applied throughout the research design whilst a full elaboration of critical realism including its application and possible solutions to problems of critical realism shall be provided in the thesis.


References:


McEvoy, P., Richards, D (2009): A critical realist rationale for using a combination of quantitative and qualitative method, Journal Of Research In Nursing, 11 (1), 66 – 78


Mixed Methods: Pragmatism Is No Longer Considered

Pragmatism is inappropriate for my research and therefore various arguments are being developed against pragmatism as a philosophy of mixed methods within a particular context and also in general, and shall be mentioned in the Upgrade Paper and fully elaborated in the thesis. This blog post shall briefly mention each of the main arguments against pragmatism as a philosophy of mixed methods in the context of my own work.


First Reason: Divorced From Philosophical And Methodological Considerations

Pragmatism is divorced from philosophical and methodological considerations therefore places the research questions central to a research project, enabling a whatever works attitude to be employed and therefore whatever methods that best answer the question should be used and not be restricted by philosophical and methodological considerations. This is not to say however that pragmatists lack philosophical or methodological considerations, but that there is no need to express or to discuss such considerations in research papers. Obviously, this has led to a lot of criticisms from the academic community suggesting that it is a vague approach to research. However, despite the criticisms it the most popularly used philosophical approach to mixed methods but there is suggestion that this is because a lot of researchers do not particularly care for or are willing to explore philosophical considerations and just want to get on with the job that needs to be completed.


In my view, there is more to research than simply getting on with the job because in order to have an effective and useful project there must be a level of philosophical and methodological consideration. We as researchers and Ph.D. candidates come with certain perspectives of reality that influence the choices that are made within research designs. Our framework of preferences born from previous experiences and current knowledge and skills shape the way that we approach a research project and therefore researcher bias is likely to be introduced through the selection of methodology and methods. For example, those with lots of experience using quantitative methods and approaches are not likely to use qualitative methods, and therefore will try to view research problems from a quantitative perspective and develop quantitatively driven questions. Whether or not the selection of methods and methodology would be correct to address the research problem would not be considered as important as those which meets the preference framework of the researcher. Pragmatism does not appear to consider this as important.


Second Reason: Emphasis On The Research Question

Because pragmatism does not place emphasis on the philosophical and methodological considerations of a research project, research questions are elevated to central position of all considerations and there appears to be a suggestion that research questions are the basis of Philosophy. I do not agree with this because I have the belief that research questions drive the methodological selections, not philosophical perspectives, and also because the development of research questions are likely to be situated within our own philosophical perspective of reality.


If you study a research question and sub questions including the language used to construct a research question, it can be clearly observed that a particular question shall determine the particular methodology and not a particular philosophy. What should happen at the research question development level is that a research problem has already been identified and from that problem comes a certain assumed philosophical perspective. The research questions come from the research problem therefore it appears that within pragmatism, the research problem is largely ignored. But I believe that it is the research problem that should be the initial focus of any research project, not the research question, and this is where pragmatism crumbles from what I can currently understand.


Third Reason: Outcome Focused

Pragmatism is product, outcome focussed; it seeks not to increase understanding about a problem area or explore factors within that problem area, but to cause some sort of change at practice level for example in Education this would be some sort of change to teaching practice.

My Ph.D. project does not concern itself with changing something at the practical level, although the findings could be interpreted in the future as being able to create a change but this is not a direct aim of the Ph.D. My Ph.D. project is to explore certain learning processes in ways that have not been explored before in order to increase understanding of the identified research problem and present a solution to that problem, and through its application develop more substantial understanding of research phenomena. The research is due to contribute new discussions towards philosophical considerations and also present new discussions for the methodological level within Educational research. It also aims to develop understanding of the phenomena through deductive and inductive processes along with analysing and exploring the structures and mechanisms that influence or causes an effect to happen on changes to variables and experiences within natural settings and not experimental settings. Pragmatism therefore would not be appropriate.


Summary

Pragmatism is not a suitable philosophical perspective for my research due to the main reason that it is not used to explore research problems and increase our understanding of interested phenomena, but is used to cause a change at practice level. Additionally, I do not agree with discounting philosophical and methodological considerations and also I do not agree with the apparent assumption that research questions drive the selection of philosophy.


March 14, 2016

Mixed Methods: Post Positivism Is No Longer Considered Appropriate


Description of and arguments against Post Positivism


Post positivism is now no longer among the set of philosophies considered appropriate for my Mixed Methods research due to my stance against philosophies that advocate pure quantitative or qualitative approaches to exploring social reality within educational contexts.


Simply put, post positivism is an extension of positivism; that it still adheres to the main concepts and principles of Positivism but modifies them at the ontological and epistemological levels but mirrors positivism at the methodological level. This modification of the concepts of positivism enables post postivism to accommodate a level of uncertainly, subjectivity, complexity and human experiences therefore recognising that absolute and certain truth about reality is not achievable. Giddings and Grant (2007) called Post Postivism a “lite” version of positivism, stating that the “post” prefix indicates a development or extension of positivism, and offer various examples of the way in which Post Positivism extends the concepts of positivism.


Positivism perceives reality as objective and independent of the mind but post positivism (along with other middle ground Philosophies) suggest that reality is embedded in its own social and cultural contexts and therefore researcher objectivity is impossible to attain. Another key area of divergence is theory verification: positivism emphasises hypothesis testing and theory experimentation in order to prove or disprove them whereas PostPositivists emphasises supporting evidence as a probability rather than being used as an absolute proof. These are just a couple of examples of where positivism and post positivism diverge at the ontological and epistemological levels. However, where they both converge and therefore enables the view of post positivism as being an extension of positivism is that it shares the same methodological assumptions.


Onwuegbuzie et al (2009) (along with many other researchers) confirms this methodological mirroring. Extent of fallibility and defeasibility of absolute knowledge accommodated by post positivism makes inferential statistics usable and applicable through inferential statistics, which utalises probabilistic approaches such as P Vales and Confidence Levels to understand reality. Post positivism also utalises qualitative data, hence post positivists can use Mixed Methods, but they use quantitative approaches to analyse qualitative data. As an example, content analysis is utilised to quantify thematic occurrences through frequency rates, and qualitative data is used in a way that enables the development of more effective quantitative approaches.


In all, post positivism is not a suitable Philosophical perspective for my Mixed Methods research because I am taking the stance that post positivism is not suited to exploring social phenomena and social reality, because everything to do with the social is too chaotic and dynamic to be represented and explained statistically. Post positivism also does not allow for much room in terms of theory building, and theory building or theorising is an aim of my Mixed Methods research as I attempt to theorise the social structures and aspects of reality that influences the phenomenon of interest. I like much of post positivism at the ontological and epistemological levels, but its mirroring of positivism at the methodological level makes it inappropriate for my Mixed Methods research. More discussions shall be found in later blog posts and more especially in my thesis.


So then: the Big Three!


With post positivism no longer being considered appropriate, this now leaves three middle ground philosophies that might be appropriate for my Mixed Methods research: complexity theory, pragmatism and critical realism. From what I have read of these so far, I have issues with pragmatism in that it appears to detach itself from philosophical and methodological concerns and places itself upon the research question. That is, the research question is the most important consideration within pragmatism and therefore all that must be done and used to answer that research question must be carried out. This has left pragmatism open to arguments that suggests it basically allows a free for all design approach with a “what works” attitude that has been questioned by a lot of writers, and I am inclined to agree with the concerns. More on this in future blog posts.

Critical realism and complexity theory appear to be the most attractive middle ground philosophies at the moment as I as yet cannot find any fault with them when it comes to exploring social reality, social phenomena, and assumptions made at the philosophical and methodological levels. Essentially, from what I can currently understand, critical realism does not concern itself with reality as a single, accessible, measurable layer (positivism / post positivism) nor does it concern itself exclusively with human experiences (interpretivism / constructivism) but it concerns itself with the underlying structures and mechanisms that produces what is found at the measurable layer and with human experiences. Now if I have interpreted this correctly, and I appreciate that what I have defined is probably a little lacking in substance but remember I am still learning and exploring this, then this makes critical realism highly applicable for substantial exploration of the social reality. Structures and mechanisms of social reality and their influence on what occurs within this social reality are highly complex and interrelated therefore complexity theory could also play a part in this structural mess.


I do perceive social reality and explorations of social reality to be highly complex and extremely uncertain, and the key to understanding the phenomenon of interest is to consider those underlying structures and mechanisms instead of constantly exploring just what is observable.


Fun stuff isn’t it? It was all a bit scary when I first started exploring Mixed Methods at this level but the more I explore the Philosophy of Mixed Methods the more interesting I find it! Lots to read and think about!


References


Giddings, L.S., Grant, B.M (2007): A Trojan Horse For Positism? A Critique Of Mixed Methods Research, Advances in Nurse Science, 30 (1), 52 – 60


Onwuegbuzie, A.J., Johnson, R.B., Collins, K.M.T. (2009): Call For Mixed Analysis: A Philosophical Framework For Combining Qualitative And Quantitative Approaches, International Journal Of Multiple Research Approaches, 3, 114 – 139


March 09, 2016

What Is Reality? A Middle Ground Philosophical View

In an attempt to understand the way in which a middle ground Philosophy views reality, think about a cake. A two dimensional cake is observable: you can view the top layer and you can deconstruct this top layer into components, or in an academic sense its variables, which would be the cream, the topping, the chocolate sprinkles, decorations, and anything else that belongs to the top level. Further understanding of this top layer would come about through identifying and exploring relationships between these variables. The three dimensional cake contains a series of layers with no variables and therefore no exploration of relationships between these variables. There are layers and within these layers are different structures, mechanisms, processes and configurations that provide a deeper understanding of the structure and complexity of that cake.

Research that explores only the top layer of reality (think about the top layer of the cake) perceives reality as two dimensional, independent of the activities of the mind, therefore nothing is constructed therefore everything about that reality is true. In order to understand this reality it is a case of deconstructing this reality into a series of variables and to identify and explore relationships between these variables. The Philosophies that guide this type of research are of the Absolutist, Objectivist variety. Research that explores the multiple layers of reality (think of the multiple layers on a cake) perceives reality as three dimensional and is dependent on the activities of the mind therefore nothing in reality is actually an objective truth but is a construction of the mind. Reality is therefore constructed based on our own experiences and perceptions of our own experiences therefore in order to better understand this reality the structures, mechanisms, and so on, need to be explored. The Philosophies that guide this type of exploration of reality are based on the Relativist, Subjectivist varieties.

In the middle of the continuum between Absolutism and Relativism perspectives are the Middle Ground perspectives, which recognises the importance of both the top layer of the cake and the multiple layers of the cake to gain a complete understanding of that particular cake. In other words, the middle ground Philosophies perceive reality as having a top layer that can be deconstructed to a set of variables and relationships between variables, but also perceive the behaviours of these variables and relationships to be influenced by the structures, mechanisms, processes and configurations of the underlying layers. Therefore when adopting a middle ground Philosophy you are effectively exploring what occurs on the top level (variables, relationships) and the way in which the top level is affected by the underlying layers (structures, mechanisms, etc), and therefore recognise the complexity of the phenomenon you are exploring.

I admit that these definitions and explanations might not be that sophisticated but in the meantime whilst my knowledge and understanding of these Philosophies continue to grow and mature, these definitions work. I have collected a huge amount of literature that shall enable me to take my understanding to the next level, which shall hopefully enable me to decide which of the main Philosophies or combination of these Philosophies shall work best with the context of my Mixed Methods research.


Ph.D. Progress Update: Philosophical Level and Ph.D. Documentation


The Philosophical Level


The key current activities are thinking about, critiquing, evaluating, explaining and exploring different middle ground Philosophies which are as mentioned before Complexity Theory, Post Positivism, Pragmatism and Critical Realism. These are identified as the most appropriate Philosophies for Mixed Methods research in the context of the phenomenon of exploration, but it is not known at this time which Philosophical perspective would be most appropriate or if the most appropriate approach would be to present a combination of some of them in some way.


I have collected and continue to collect a huge volume of existing debates and discussions about each Philosophical perspective in general, as a perspective of Social Science and Educational Research, and as a perspective of Mixed Methods research. The objectives here are to learn further what each of these perspectives bring to Educational and Mixed Methods research, select which perspective (or a combination of perspectives) are most suited to the context of my Mixed Methods research, then identify all problems with the selected perspective, identify all currently discussed and debated solutions to the selected perspective’s problems, and then present solutions to problems that have yet to be resolved. With the case of combining different perspectives, there have been, for example, attempts at combining complexity theory with critical realism with the aim of resolving some of the problems in both perspectives, but then you start thinking about what problems do they really resolve, what problems do they not resolve, what problems still exist with this combination, what new problems are introduced with the combination, and in what way could these new problems be resolved?


Once all this is thought deeply about, the Philosophical perspectives shall be briefly discussed in the Upgrade Paper, more in depth in the thesis, and it is also the aim to have a research paper published based on solutions discovered and developed that shall attempt to resolve existing problems. Getting that research paper published or be in the middle of publishing the paper before the Upgrade Presentation would be ideal as it would give more credibility to the research at this stage.


The Ph.D. documents


The Upgrade Paper, the research paper that is planned to be published along with the Thesis are all being considered. Work obviously begun on the Upgrade Paper a few weeks ago and have almost completed the literature review section, which is going to be a mini version of the thesis version given that the Upgrade Paper is only four thousand words. The rest of the paper has been structured, it’s just a matter of entering the content!


The research paper shall be based on identified problems of the Philosophical level of Mixed Methods research, and any discovered and developed solution to these problems relative to the context of Educational Research. Work has not begun on the paper yet, but the Philosophical perspectives are being explored. More on these perspectives and the research paper progress as time goes on.


Extensive notes have been written for the thesis, mostly the literature review but also the methodological chapter, but nothing in terms of formally writing the first drafts of any of the chapters of the thesis just yet as the way in which a thesis is written is determined by the overall research design. For example, a thesis written for a pure constructivist grounded theory design would be different compared to a thesis written referring a questionnaire research design. Therefore, a thesis written for a Mixed Methods research design would be different still to either a constructivist grounded theory or a questionnaire based research designs. I will consider the thesis further when I have fully decided upon the design, which includes deciding upon the Philosophical perspective that shall guide the Mixed Methods research, and also settle some debates at the method level such as whether or not to use a particular type of grounded theory coding. Therefore it was just as well that I had not begun the thesis several months ago when I was convinced that a Constructivist Grounded Theory design would be the central aspect as I would probably have had to rewrite everything given that I have selected a Mixed Methods research design!


What’s next?


With Easter coming up soon I shall be taking some time off, but in the meantime I shall be getting on with plenty of stuff. I have a trial to try to organise and carry out, I have the Upgrade paper to continue with, and I have the research paper and the Philosophical level of the Mixed Methods research to consider carefully.


Lots to do then!


March 01, 2016

The Philosophy of Mixed Methods: Getting Clearer!


Things have progressed since the previous post!


Recently I have been exploring six different Philosophical perspectives that after an initial round of reading thought were most appropriate for my Mixed Methods research. Most of these advocate a middle ground approach to understanding reality that aligns with Mixed Methods methodology, and these have been Complexity Theory, Post Structuralism, Post Modernism, Post Positivism, Pragmatism and Critical Realism.


After the previous round of reading, I have concluded that there are four Philosophical perspectives that strongly advocate a middle ground approach, or in other words advocate a multiple reality perspective, that aligns strongly with a Mixed Methods methodology and they are Complexity Theory, Post Postivitism, Pragmatism and Critical Realism. Each of these shall be explored and discussed on here in time but it suffices to say here that they have the common characteristic of rejecting the Absolutism and Relativism paradigms, the opposite sides of the paradigm continuum. They reject the idea that reality can be understood either through Absolutism or Relativism, and therefore place emphasis on the view of reality as a mixture of observable, measurable, deterministic and controllable elements, and also elements that are dynamic, chaotic, unobservable, and cannot be reduced to variables. This leans suitably towards a Mixed Methods methodology, but the extent to which each paradigm advocates Mixed Methods differ, and the writers and practitioners within each paradigm differ further the extent to which they advocate Mixed Methods methodology. The most common paradigm used is Pragmatism but just because a paradigm is more dominant it doesn’t mean that it is most suitable for my own research.


The other two paradigms Post Structuralism and Post Modernism are not suitable as a guide of Mixed Methods inquiry but are suitable in building a platform upon which Mixed Methods can be criticised. Both paradigms reject the modernist perspectives of reality (e.g., postivism, absolutism, and so on) and strongly advocate a multiple reality perspective therefore lean fairly strongly towards relativism and constructivism paradigms. From the readings that I have carried out so far, both perspectives appear to criticise Mixed Methods on Philosophical grounds: that Mixed Methods orientate towards Positivism, that there is a series lack of Mixed Methods researchers engaging at a Philosophical level, and therefore that there are various ontological and epistemological issues that remain unresolved within a Mixed Methods context. So whilst they do not reject Mixed Methods outright as an interesting and useful methodology, Post Structuralists and Post Modernists criticise Mixed Methods methodology at the Philosophical level and therefore have been critical of the Pragmatist approach.


So there we are! Four paradigms that have shown promise as a guide of Mixed Methods inquiry, and a couple of paradigms that are not useful as a guide of Mixed Methods inquiry but useful in understanding the criticisms and critiques of Mixed Methods methodology. It’s alright in any thesis to write loads about the wonderfulness of a methodology but the criticisms need equal attention and solutions need to be developed, explained, applied, and evaluated, all of which I aim to achieve in my thesis.


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