“Mixed methods research” aims to answer research questions that cannot be answered by one way of gathering information. For environmental science and studies, this means the mixing of quantitative and qualitative data and methodologies; the mixing of frameworks, theories, and analytical tools from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences; the mixing of theories and ideas from academic research with the knowledge and experience of professionals in fields of practice; and more.
By the end of this course, you will be able to design and conduct environmental science and studies research and evaluation using mixed methods. Through a combination of lectures and class discussions on research methods, a close reading of scientific articles that use mixed methods, practice using mixed methods data collection methods in class, and a real-life application of mixed methods research to a Northwest Indiana environmental case study, we will learn to design and apply mixed methods research tools.
To achieve the above course objective, we will work our way through several learning outcomes specific to ENV 261. We will:
- Be knowledgeable about the major philosophical and paradigmatic underpinnings of mixed methods research as they apply to environmental science and studies.
- Have a capacity to read and evaluate scientific articles in environmental science and studies that utilize mixed methods research.
- Understand how to develop good research questions, write clear research objectives, and select appropriate mixed methods to answer the research question(s).
- Understand the importance of making quality observations – both visual (photos, videos, sketches, maps) and written (field notes) – and documenting the process of mixed methods research.
- Be able to design and document protocols for mixed methods research, including drafting a research proposal/plan suitable for submission to an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for ethical Human Subjects Research.
- Be able to design quality survey questions and be familiar with standard internet and by-mail survey implementation procedures (the Dillman Tailored Design Method).
- Be able to conduct qualitative interviews and use qualitative coding methods to analyze these interviews.
- Design and implement a mixed methods research evaluation for a real-life environmental case study (for SQ17 and AQ18, the evaluation of social and ecological outcomes of the CommuniTree program in Northwest Indiana).