This article describes some of the basics of understanding how qualitative and mixed methods approaches can be used in education research. It is written for engineers – in other words, those of us with STEM backgrounds will find it clear and informative regarding use of theory, rigor and trustworthiness in qualitative research, thick description (rich, contextual descriptions of the data), triangulation (bringing together complementary methods of data sources to build a stronger argument) and more.
It also discusses the differences between the criteria for evaluating quantitative research that we STEM folks all familiar with (validity, generalizability, reliability and objectivity), versus the criteria for evaluating qualitative research (credibility, transferability, dependability, reflexivity.)
If you are thinking of doing a quantitative teaching and learning study, but are worried about the ethical implications of a controlled classroom experiment, or not being able to find significant differences, this article is for you. It will get you thinking about different methodologies and how to use them rigorously.