Enhancing the Interpretation of “Significant” Findings: The Role of Mixed Methods Research

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The present essay outlines how mixed methods research can be used to enhance the interpretation of significant findings. First, we define what we mean by significance in educational evaluation research. With regard to quantitative-based research, we define the four types of significance: statistical significance, practical significance, clinical significance, and economic significance. With respect to qualitative-based research, we define a significant finding as one that has meaning or representation. Second, we describe limitations of each of these types of significance. Finally, we illustrate how conducting mixed methods analyses can be used to enhance the interpretation of significant findings in both quantitative and qualitative educational evaluation and policy research. Consequently, mixed methods research represents the real “gold standard” for studying phenomena.