Mixed methods are gaining prominence in psychology and counseling research. Yet, despite a wealth of literature on the topic, many researchers misunderstand the purpose and intent of mixed methods designs. As Hanson, Creswell, Clark, Petska, and Creswell (2005) note, few researchers can provide the rationale for using mixed methods in their research projects. This paper reconsiders the methodological aspects of the research article by Torres (2009).
To accomplish his research mission, Torres (2009) applied to the benefits of mixed methods research. In other words, the design of the selected study incorporated the elements of qualitative and quantitative methods. During Phase 1, Torres (2009) performed a detailed qualitative analysis of the themes that would be included in his model of intercultural competence. In Phase 2, a quantitative evaluation of the selected themes was conducted to rank order their importance and develop a more accurate understanding of the competencies, which Latino people typically need to successfully manage their intercultural experiences (Torres, 2009).
The concept of acculturation is the theoretical base of Torres’s (2009) study. In his view, acculturation is central to understanding the subjective experiences of multicultural communities, as their members seek to navigate through separate cultures (Torres, 2009). Unfortunately, earlier studies offer little guidance as to how exactly the acculturation processes occur and how they impact mental health of Latino people (Torres, 2009). Acculturation provides an insight into the nature of the selected study and, simultaneously, indicates the presence of a large knowledge gap, which this study intends to close. Its results may inform the development of future theoretical frameworks that explain the complexity of multicultural experiences facing diverse communities.
Torres (2009) used two different data collection approaches. In Phase 1 qualitative study, the researcher interviewed fifteen Latino volunteers to gain a deeper insight into the skills and competencies they deem to be essential for developing effective cultural ties (Torres, 2009). Interviews represent a popular instrument of qualitative data collection, which empowers researchers to develop an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of choice (Gill, Stewart, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008). Torres (2009) also conducted Phase 2 cultural consensus analysis, which entailed the numerical evaluation of the cultural competencies derived from Phase 1 qualitative interviews (Torres, 2009). The participants were asked to rank order the importance of 34 competencies to inform the development of a conceptual model of intercultural competence.
Researchers use mixed methods designs for many reasons. According to Hanson et al. (2005), the rationale behind the use of mixed methods by Torres (2009) was taking “the results from one method to elaborate on results from the other method” (p. 226). In other words, Torres (2009) used quantitative methods to expand upon the results of the qualitative interviews. In his study, quantitative methods helped estimate the relative importance of each cultural competence and develop a sophisticated cultural model of intercultural experiences in Latino communities. An interesting observation is that many researchers use qualitative methods to expand upon their quantitative results. That is, quantitative methods are believed to ensure the rigor and validity of research findings, but they do not provide any in-depth understanding of the selected phenomenon. This is why many researchers use mixed methods designs to translate their quantitative findings into a qualitative narrative. Torres (2009) followed a different path, using quantitative data collection instruments to systematize his qualitative observations. As a result, his research findings display higher levels of credibility, validity, reliability and potential generalizability to other population groups.
To conclude, mixed methods are becoming a design of choice for many researchers in psychology and counseling. The rationales behind using mixed method designs vary considerably across researchers and studies. Torres (2009) used the mixed methods framework to quantify and systematize his qualitative observations. This is why the results of his research display higher levels of validity, rigor, and potential generalizability to other population groups.
- Gill, P., Stewart, K., Treasure, E., & Chadwick, B. (2008). Methods of data collection in qualitative research: Interviews and focus groups. British Dental Journal, 204, 291-295.
- Hanson, W.E., Creswell, J.W., Clark, V.L., Petska, K.S., & Creswell, J.D. (2005). Mixed methods research designs in counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 224-235.
- Torres, L. (2009). Latino definitions of success: A cultural model of intercultural competence. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, 31(4), 576-593.