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Transformative Mixed Methods: Addressing inequities

Donna M. Mertens

Qaisar Niazi

on 18 November 2014

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Transcript of Transformative Mixed Methods: Addressing inequities

Transformative Mixed Methods: Addressing Inequities

Researcher: Donna M. Mertens

Purpose of the article
The article explores the philosophical assumptions of the transformative paradigm and explains examples of mixed models studies that demonstrate this approach.
Role of Transformative Paradigm
The transformative paradigm provides a philosophical framework that concentrate on ethics in terms of cultural sensitivity, recognizing those dimensions of diversity that are associated with power differences, building trusting relationships, and developing mixed methods that are beneficial to social change. Examples of transformative cyclical mixed methods designs are used to illustrate the methodological implications of this paradigm.
The Transformative Taradigm’s Assumtions
The transformative paradigm is built on the early work of Guba and Lincoln
(2005) and basically it consists of four of assumptions:


Refers to beliefs about the meaning of ethics and moral behavior.

Refers to beliefs about the nature of reality.

Refers to the nature of knowledge and the relationship
between the knower and waht would be known.

Refers to beliefs about the process of systematic inquiry.

What is transformative paradigm?

The transformative paradigm is a meta-physical framework that “directly engages the complexity encountered by researchers and evaluators in culturally diverse communities when their work is focused on increasing social justice” (Mertens, 2009, p. 10).

The transformative paradigm also focuses on the strengths that reside in communities that experience discrimination and oppression on the basis of their cultural values and experiences (Mertens, 2007, 2009, 2010).

Examples Communities
Native American Indians are reclaiming their rights of self-determination by establishing ethical review boards that are specific to their members (LaFrance & Crazy Bull, 2009).

M.ori people and Australian Aboriginals developed Indigenous Terms of Reference (ITR) that defined principles and procedures that need to be considered when researchers work in their communities (Cram, 2009; Smith, 2008).

Harris, Holmes, and Mertens (2009) adapted the ITRs to develop the Sign Language Community Terms of Reference (SLCTR) for research with Deaf people who use Sign languages that SLCTR includes specific principles.

What is Axiology?
Refers to beliefs about the meaning of ethics and moral behavior.

The transformative axiological assumption is based on the importance of respecting cultural histories and norms in order to conduct research that has likely the potential to increase social justice.

Researcher’s responsibility or Role (It is a big question)

• Researcher needs to be aware of the presence of discrimination and oppression in that community

• Researcher understands communities sufficiently to effectively challenge the status quo

• Provides a foundation for social change.

Why it is important to know i the Community?

Most indigenous communities argue that there is a need to understand their cultures and their views of ethics as a reference for conducting research in their communities.

Facilitator: Qaisar Niazi
EDUC 500: Research Methodology in Education

How axiological assumtion can help researcher
Cultural Competency and Researcher
The Benefits
Researcher’s Responsibility
Contd. Examples
Researcer's Role
The Transformative Methodological Assumptions' Role
Contd. Examples
Contd. Examples
The axiological assumption help the researcher to ask questions such as,
What cultural guidelines for research need to be considered in this context?

How can I show respect for cultures that have been historically denigrated?

How can I incorporate the voices of members of communities that have not traditionally had a seat at the table when decisions about what is ethical or not ethical were made?

Cultural competency is a critical disposition that is related to the researcher’s ability to correctly represent reality in culturally complex communities.

Mertens (2009, 2010; Mertens & Wilson, in press) notes that cultural competency is an integral concept for those working
within the philosophical assumptions of the transformative paradigm.

Cultural competence in research can be broadly defined as a systematic, responsive mode of inquiry that is actively cognizant, understanding, and appreciative of the cultural context in which the research takes place; it frames and articulates the epistemology of the research endeavor, employs culturally and contextually appropriate methodology, and uses community-generated, interpretive means to arrive at the results and further use of the findings (SenGupta, Hopson, & Thompson-Robinson, 2004).

The cultural competency and culturally responsive research approaches include many benefits such as:

• It has the ability to transform interventions so that the community perceives them as legitimate (Guzman, 2003).

• The American Psychological Association (2002) recommends that the researcher serve as an agent of pro social change to combat racism, prejudice, bias, and oppression in all their forms.

• This way, culturally competent researchers endeavor to build rapport despite differences, gain the trust of community members, and reflect on and recognize their own biases (Edno, Joh, & Yu, 2003).

It refers to beliefs about the nature of reality

The transformative ontological belief emphasizes that which seems real may not be 'real. It might be taken real because of historical situations. Thus, what is taken to be real needs to be critically examined via an ideological critique of its role in perpetuating oppressive social structures and policies. (Mertens, Bledsoe, Sullivan, & Wilson, 2010, p. 198)

The researcher has a responsibility to investigate the source of reality in terms of issues of power that might be associated with economics, disabilities, gender, deafness, religion, geographic location, sexual orientation, and other variables that are associated with tol access the power.

As the transformative research recognizes that different versions of reality are given privilege over others. Therefore privileged views need to be critically examined to determine what is missing especially when communities are not privileged.

In the Deaf community, researchers need to understand the history of oppression of Deaf people compare with people who can hear. For example 1880, a significant event happened at the International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Milan, that resulted imore than 100 years of oppression to deny their rights to use Sign language.

In 2007, the World Federation of the Deaf passed a resolution that recognized that Deaf people have the same human rights as all other social groups. The also recognized that Sign language is a human right for all members of the Deaf community. This resolution is included in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under Article 21 that recognizes and promotes the use of Sign languages, and Article 24 calls for the support of learning Sign languages and the linguistic identity of the Deaf community. But still in many countries, Deaf people are still denied their rights to communicate in Sign language and to receive their education through this visual medium.
1. The authority for the construction of meanings and knowledge within the
Sign Language community rests with the community’s members.
2. Investigators should acknowledge that Sign Language community members
have the right to have those things that they value to be fully considered in
all interactions.
3. Investigators should take into account the worldviews of the Sign Language
Community in all negotiations or dealings that impact on the community’s
4. In the application of Sign Language communities’ terms of reference, investigators
should recognize the diverse experiences, understandings, and way
of life (in sign language societies) that reflect their contemporary cultures.
5. Investigators should ensure that the views and perceptions of the critical reference
group (the sign language group) is reflected in any process of validating
and evaluating the extent to which Sign Language communities’ terms of
reference have been taken into account.
6. Investigators should negotiate within and among sign language groups to
establish appropriate processes to consider and determine the criteria for
deciding how to meet cultural imperatives, social needs, and priorities. (p. 115)

It refers to the nature of knowledge and the relationship between the knower and that which would be known

The transformative epistemological assumption raises questions about the relationships between researchers in terms of who controls the power of investigation. It includes not only the nonmembers of the communities, but also when the researchers are community members or teams of members and nonmembers are used.
The researcher needs to establish a close link with community members. This involves understanding the historical and social contexts.

Building relationships that acknowledge power differences and support the development of trust amongst the involved parties is very important.

The formation of trusting relationships in research are often tense with challenges on many levels. This tension could be the reason of being objectively neutral and being involved with community members. Christians (2005) challenges the notion that a “neutral, objective observer will get the facts right” (p. 148) because of power relationsthat need to be acknowledged.
Downey’s (2009) explanation of the building of coalitions has epistemological significance for the transformative paradigm because it illustrates the complexity of building trusting relationships when there are potentially hostile members of different
constituencies. If researchers are to conduct transformative research, they need to have understandings of how to build trusting relationships in these types of contexts.
Big Question

How do we engage multivocal and cross-cultural communities in meaningful dialogues?

Many valuable insights can be gleaned from scholars who write about epistemologies from the perspectives of feminists, indigenous peoples, and disability rights.

For example, Dillard (2000, cited in Wright, 2003, p. 2) describes an endarkened feminist epistemology that serves as tool for African Americans to disrupt White hegemonic research paradigms. She sees the researcher’s role as a supportive, reflective activist who works to challenge the status quo.
The transformative methodological assumption is derived from three assumptions.

• The axiological assumption leads to researchers planning their research with research guidelines developed by the community itself.

• The ontological assumption that help researcher to develop strategies to determine different versions of reality, in terms of power and privilege, and the making visible effors for social change associated with those different versions of reality.

• The epistemological assumption that leads to establish relationships in order to determine ways that the study can be more culturally responsive.
The transformative methodological assumptions propose that researchers start with qualitative data collection to learn about the community and begin to establish trusting relationships.

They can supplement their qualitative data collection at this time with quantitative data that might be available from data sources, such as government statistical repositories.

The research would rarely occur as a onetime data collection or with one type of data. The most likely scenario would be a mixed methods design with cyclical collection of data that feeds into subsequent decisions about how to use the information to move the research to the next level or to make changes in the community.
Silka’s (2009) research is a good example of transformative cyclical mixed methods approach that includes Laotian refugees in Massachusetts. She works with researchers from a university and trains Laotian leaders to be part of the research team. They collect qualitative data to know the life conditions of the refugees, and they looked at statistical data about their home country and their characteristics since moving to the United States. They also publish scholarly papers in English and in their native language as well.

They had festival about fishing so that collected data can be shared with community members in their own language who can confirm or deny the data. This transformative, cyclical mixed methods approach resulted in the Laotian people’s gaining an understanding of the relation between the health problems they were experiencing . The fish came from a lake that was polluted where signs were posted in English about the dangers of eating the fish. However, the Laotian people came to the United States without a print form of language and they fish at night. Hence, they could not see the signs, and if they could see them, they could not read them.

This sharing led to an agreement with the Laotian people to work with the university researchers on a second cycle of mixed methods research. The team developed information sources for fish for the Laotian people from places that were safe. The quantitative portion of the study idid testing to determine levels of poisoning in their blood. The qualitative portion involved an ongoing discussion with community about alternative sources of fish and the effect of changing the source of their food on their health.
Silka (2009) explained that it was very important to protect the Laotian people from researchers who wanted to study them because they are seen as “exotic.” Rather, the transformative mixed methods approach focused on identifying things of importance to the Laotian people, strategies for data collection that were appropriate to them, and use of the information to stimulate social action.

The transformative methodological assumption has implications for every aspect of the research methods, from the development of a focus for the study to the design, sampling, data collection strategies, data analysis and interpretation, and use of the findings
We need to remmeber
Mixed methods can meet the informational needs of the community. We need to remember that the methodological decisions are made with a conscious awareness of right and historical factors, especially as they relate to discrimination and oppression. Thus the formation of partnerships with researchers and the community is an important step in addressing methodological questions in research (Mertens, 2009, p. 59).
Thank you!
Challenges, Benefits and Questions

Guba, E., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging
confluences. In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative
research (3rd ed., pp.191–216). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Mertens, D. M. (2009). Transformative research and evaluation. New York, NY: Guilford.

Mertens, D. M., Bledsoe, K., Sullivan, M. & Wilson, A. (2010). Utilization of mixed
methods for transformative purposes. In C. Teddlie & A. Tashakorri (Eds.), Handbook
of mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Mertens, D. (2012). Transformative Mixed Methods: Addressing Inequities. American
Behavioral Scientist, 56(6): 802- 813

Challenges arise in terms of the role of the researcher such as:
Should researchers be distant from their subjects to eliminate bias?
Or should they be close to and involved with their participants to eliminate bias?
If the researcher is not a member of the community, what are the measures that are needed to establish a trusting relationship?
Are there circumstances in which a trusting relationship is not advisable and could even be harmful to the conduct of valid research?
Mixed methods can provide a more complete picture of the phenomenon compare to usie a single method.
More Researches needed
As transformative paradigm raises many questions, answers to some of these questions are awaiting for further work in this area. However there are many examples of transformative researches that can provide help at this point.
Seminar Topic
Transformative Mixed Methods: Addressing Inequities

Researcher: Donna M. Mertens

Facilitator: Qaisar Jahan Niazi

Looking at my position if I plan to conduct a research in a community that is denigrated my ultimate goal will be to go into that community with the social competency. I will try to get the real facts and my target will to bring a possible change in the society. I will try to make use of Axiology to know the ethics and moral behaviors in that community. Using the norms of the ontological assumptions I will gather the reality and then of course, epistemological norms will help me find out the truth about the community. I will use qualitative data then quantitative data and will work on cyclical course to bring the possible positive change in that particular community.
My Position
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