This practical text equips students, researchers, and policymakers in the social sciences with the tools they need for applying mixed methods in policy research and program evaluation, from design, through data collection, and dissemination. Emphasizing the “how-to”—the set of conceptual and active tasks carried out by mixed methods researchers—the book is illustrated with rich case studies from the authors’ own research projects in education and public policy. These examples help readers identify and explain policy and program impacts and better understand the “why” and “how” of observed effects. Throughout the book, the authors describe challenges that both beginners and advanced scholars are likely to encounter when doing mixed methods research and recommend practical tools available to address them.

Conceptualizing Mixed Methods Research

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Research that is impactful in both informing policy and guiding practice must be both rigorous and relevant. Accordingly, the design and execution of policy research and evaluation studies invariably benefit from the articulation of an overarching framework for the research, including the conceptual linking of research and/or policy questions and goals to the methodologies that will be applied to address them. Indeed, the legwork undertaken in carefully framing a study can go a long way toward ensuring that appropriate and useful methods are applied in ways that generate desired information and illuminate new relationships and findings. Methodological design decisions should be closely connected to the study purpose and intended uses of the information generated, which, in policy and program settings, ...

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