Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Brown, S. E. (2014). Student Characteristics, Prior Experiences, and the Perception of Mixed Methods as an Innovation (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Instructional Technology), Under the Supervision of Professor Delwyn Harnisch. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Sydney E. Brown


There are persistent challenges to teaching mixed methods and innovative solutions are sought in order to address the needs of an increasingly diverse global audience seeking mixed methods instruction. This mixed methods study was conducted to gain insights to course design by more fully understanding the relationships among graduate student characteristics and prior experiences with research approaches with the perceived characteristics of the innovation of mixed methods.

Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered using a self-developed survey. Correlational analyses were done between measures of quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, and overall prior experience and the perceived innovation characteristics of relative advantage, compatibility, results demonstrability, trialability, and visibility.

Qualitative data collected through open-ended question items was analyzed for themes and then merged with quantitative data. The analysis of interview data extended these findings. Results showed prior experience with research approaches was positively related to the perceived characteristics of mixed methods and the more specific the prior experience, the stronger the relationship.

Analysis of responses to open-ended survey items confirmed the influence of prior experience. Participants with higher levels of prior experience with mixed methods identified different benefits of mixed methods than those with lower levels and they were more inclined to cite the need for a course in order to use a mixed methods approach.

Analysis of interview data revealed that teachers were most valued for their expertise, but participants did not directly relate that expertise to their own learning. Socially-centered activities helped participants calibrate their thinking through validation or by exposing weaknesses, but student-centered classroom activities were not highly valued.

The findings of this study demonstrate that graduate students may not understand how student-centered course designs help them learn. Implications for the design of mixed methods courses are discussed and the roles of teachers and students are addressed.

Adviser: Delwyn L. Harnisch