Handling the qualitative side of mixed methods research A multisite, team-based high school education evaluation study

By Terri Dempsey

Attention to mixed methods studies research has increased in recent years, particularly among funding agencies that increasingly require a mixed methods approach for program evaluation. At the same time, researchers operating within large-scale, rapid-turnaround research projects are faced with the reality that collection and analysis of large amounts of qualitative data typically require an intense amount of project resources and time. However, practical examples of efficiently collecting and handling high-quality qualitative data within these studies are limited. More examples are also needed of procedures for integrating the qualitative and quantitative strands of a study from design to interpretation in ways that can facilitate efficiencies. This paper provides a detailed description of the strategies used to collect and analyze qualitative data in what the research team believed to be an efficient, high-quality way within a team-based mixed methods evaluation study of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) high-school education. The research team employed an iterative approach to qualitative data analysis that combined matrix analyses with Microsoft Excel and the qualitative data analysis software program ATLAS.ti. This approach yielded a number of practical benefits. Selected preliminary results illustrate how this approach can simplify analysis and facilitate data integration.


Dempsey, T. (2018). Handling the qualitative side of mixed methods research: A multisite, team-based high school education evaluation study. (RTI Press Publication No. MR-0039-1809). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. https://doi.org/10.3768/rtipress.2018.mr.0039.1809

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Terri DempseyTerri L. Dempsey, MA, is a research education analyst in RTI International’s Education and Workforce Development division.

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