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Overview of Curriculum

Five core program areas comprise the MMR curriculum: (1) Welcome and introduction to MMR; (2) Designing MMR studies; (3) MMR Data Collection; (4) MMR Data Analysis; and (5) MMR Reporting.

1. Welcome and Introduction to Mixed Methods Research

Description: This program area will welcome participants to the program and introduce mixed methods research to them. Research ethics and values are important for the responsible conduct of research and so in the components of this program area, participants will learn about the nature of research ethics as it pertains to macro social work and other applied professions. We will begin with a history of research ethics with topics ranging from the Nuremberg Code and the Belmont Report, to the U.S. Public Health Service syphilis study carried out in Tuskegee, Alabama. Next, we will briefly cover theoretical frameworks, the advantages of using theory for mixed methods research and practice in social work. Participants will be challenged to view the research process through a culturally sensitive lens. Also, participants will have an opportunity to think about the implications for how the research we conduct with underserved and underrepresented groups influences what we learn from these groups. Finally, participants will learn how qualitative and quantitative research methods (or, “mixed methods”) can be integrated to provide multiple ways to examining a research phenomenon.

Objectives: Upon completing this program area, participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss the history of research ethics and the responsible conduct of research;
  2. Describe the importance of theory in conducting responsible mixed methods research; and
  3. Implement the use of ethical research with underserved and underrepresented groups.

2. Designing Mixed Methods Research studies

Description: This program area will cover the basics for how to design a mixed methods research study. We will begin by discussing how to develop research questions, then we will cover mixed methods language and notation, and then we will discuss choosing a mixed methods design. The research question is one of the most important aspects of any research project. It influences subsequent aspects of the project. In this program area, participants will be guided through how to develop a research question based on their phenomenon of interest. This is important because researchers make decisions about whether they will use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods after finalizing their research question. Popular mixed methods language and notation will be covered in this program area, as it can be helpful with communicating research designs throughout various stages of the planning, implementation, evaluation, and reporting of the project. Then finally, this program area will close with an in-depth discussion about things to consider when choosing a mixed methods design. Beyond the methods that are selected, the way a research question can (or cannot) be addressed is also largely influenced by the time, money, and participation by program staff. Therefore, there logistical details will also be considered during the various components of this program area.

Objectives: Upon completing this program area, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify under what conditions someone should consider conducting a mixed methods study;
  2. Describe the language and notation used in mixed methods research; and
  3. Understand the procedures involved with choosing a mixed methods design.

3. Mixed Methods Research Data Collection

Description: This program area will cover collecting data in mixed methods research. We will begin by discussing how to decide on the data collection needed to address certain research questions. Next, participants will be guided through how sampling plans are developed and recruitment strategies are made. Then, various qualitative and quantitative data collection methods will be discussed and presented in the context of their contribution to a mixed methods study. For example, qualitative data can access a phenomenon more directly than what is possible with formal, questionnaire-based measurements in part because pre-established questions are sometimes insensitive to important local cultural norms and idioms. Qualitative data, in focusing on natural language, deepen our understanding of the client’s condition, clinician attribution of symptoms, and other treatment processes otherwise inaccessible to scientific analysis. This type of data is particularly useful in characterizing areas where formal measurement tools are lacking, inappropriate, unreliable, or incomplete. For social workers and other applied professionals, the human voice can be one of the most valuable insights into learning and improving the outcomes of clients.  Therefore, it is important to incorporate and properly use qualitative research in our work. In this program area, participants will learn effective and efficient ways to collect and analyze qualitative data using one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and observation data collection methods. Existing records will also be discussed.  Quantitative data (e.g., statistics) can sometimes be intimidating for social workers and other applied professionals. In this program area, participants will deepen their understanding of the ways in which quantitative data is collected.

Objectives: Upon completing this program area, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify under what conditions quantitative and qualitative data should be collected;
  2. Discuss the conceptualization and operationalization of quantitative research;
  3. Discuss measurement and sampling in quantitative research studies; and
  4. Determine which descriptive and inferential analytic strategies should be used to analyze quantitative data.

4. Mixed Methods Research Data Analysis

Description:  This program area will cover data analysis techniques for mixed methods studies. First, we will discuss how to prepare qualitative and quantitative data for analysis, and then we will describe various ways to code and analyze qualitative data, as well as the most appropriate statistical techniques for quantitative data. Qualitative approaches promise to bridge the explanatory gap that exists between aggregated outcomes and actual events in the local situation. On the other hand, quantitative approaches promise the opportunity for true experimental designs as well as replication of study methods and generalization of findings. We will also cover secondary analysis, and how to use existing statistics to address research questions. Since the purpose of statistics is to convey meaning about how certain variables (e.g., the independent and dependent) do or do not (and to what level) relate to each other, this program area will provide participants with a user-friendly way of incorporating statistics into their work. Though descriptive and inferential statistics will be covered, it is important for participants to note that advanced statistical methods (e.g., structural equation modeling, hierarchical linear modeling) will not be covered.

Objectives: Upon completing this program area, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe ways to analyze qualitative data for mixed methods research projects;
  2. Describe ways to analyze quantitative data for mixed methods research projects;
  3. Describe the various ways the quantitative and qualitative data from mixed methods projects can be interpreted to address a phenomenon.

5. Mixed Methods Research Reporting

Description:  This program area will cover how to take the interpretation of mixed methods research a step further by preparing reports from mixed methods research studies. During this program area, we will also cover ways to comprehensively represent large and small qualitative datasets involving multiple cases both for inductive exploration and for more deductive examination of theoretically interesting relationships among data concepts and other variables. Communicating the research process is probably the most important step in any research project. In this program area, participants will learn about writing research reports, manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, research briefs, and longer reports. Visual displays of mixed methods research results will also be discussed. The program will also cover the benefits and challenges of different ways of disseminating mixed methods research findings. Participants will be encouraged to consider how the factors that influence the dissemination of research findings influence how they approach their research. As social workers and applied professionals, we should not take information for granted based on its popularity or reputation. In this program area, participants will learn how to apply critical appraisal skills in the search for evidence and during professional judgment and decision-making. Participants will also develop and strengthen skills and knowledge related to the identification of quality research.  Participants will be encouraged to consider the concrete ways in which their own work reflects rigor and quality. The program will also briefly address using mixed methods in program evaluation and across disciplines.

Objectives: Upon completing the program, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe ways to disseminate qualitative and quantitative data in mixed methods research;
  2. Demonstrate successful writing strategies and ways to visually display mixed methods data in various settings; and
  3. Discuss criteria that should be considered when evaluating the quality and rigor of mixed methods research.


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