Writing Functions 45: Presenting Findings from Mixed Methods

Academic Writing

Rhetorical functions in academic writing: Presenting findings from mixed methods research

Introduction

“The researcher can write separate reports for the quantitative and qualitative phases. … However, the two phases are more likely to be integrated in one report, either by presenting the two sets of findings and interpretations in separate sections or by fully integrating them in the same section. In any case, mixed research reports contain the same features as do most monomethod reports, including review of the related literature, methods, results, and discussion.” (Johnson & Christensen, 2014, ch. 18)

According to Creswell (2015), the three main mixed methods designs are:

  • Convergent – in which the research collects and analyses both quantitative and qualitative at the same time.
  • Explanatory Sequential – in which the intent is to first collect quantitative data and then use qualitative methods to explain the quantitative results.
  • Exploratory Sequential – in which the researcher starts with an unstructured qualitative analysis and then uses the information from this initial analysis to build a second quantitative phase.

The easiest way to write the results section, therefore is probably to write the qualitative and quantitative sections separately. However, the two sections then need to be integrated to arrive at a useful discussion and conclusion, and this can be difficult to organise. Of course, it does depend on your research question and research design, but an integrated approach is usually easier to manage. In this case, there are two possibilities:

  1. A small section of the quantitative results are described and analysed, probably with tables and charts, followed immediately by relevant sections from the quantitative part which will give more details about the quantitative findings. A short conclusion follows.
  2. A small part of the quantitative results is described and analysed followed by some supporting quantitative data. Again. this is followed by a short conclusion.

In both cases, the short conclusions will then be integrated into a more final conclusion to the results section. This will then lead clearly into the discussion section.

Examples

Examples of integration of findings in Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods Research:

Reporting quantitative data

Quoting interviews

Summarising interviews

Example 1

Table 5 shows that respondents were very satisfied with the overall safety climate in their construction projects (5.17). They were most satisfied with management commitment and training, whereas they were less satisfied with communication and rules & procedures. These results are relatively positive in comparison to other safety climate research in China. For example, He et al. (2020) collected data from construction projects in Mainland China and found that the safety climate level among supervisors was 3.63, while the level among the workers was 3.53 (out of 5). Another study in Mainland China found that the scores of safety climate dimensions ranged from 3.15 to 4.13 out of 5 (Zhou et al. 2011). The interviews offered some further insights into these results by pointing to the positive impacts of increasing safety regulations and implementation in China in recent years

. … …the relatively high values do not surprise me at all. According to my experience, all the participants have realized the importance of safety in recent years, since the costs of handling occupational accidents or fatalities have increased significantly, and the government has enhanced supervision to construction activities, especially on major construction projects… … (Participant 3)

Interviewees also commented that the following contexts should be considered in interpreting the results. First, safety management practice in the region where data was collected has been improved significantly in the last five years, and is in a relatively high standard compared to other less developed areas in China. Second, the projects investigated in this study were large in scale, and were developed either by large real estate developers/ industrial investors or local governments. The contactors involved in these projects were also large state-owned or tier-one construction companies in China. These clients and contractors had established standardized safety management rules and procedures, and place high emphasis on investment in safety.

…………

Management commitment

This dimension ranked top among the six dimensions with an average score of 5.43 indicating the close relationship between project safety culture and senior management commitment at a business level. As Lim et al. (2018) noted, relationship between safety climate in project organizations and the permanent business organizations in which they sit is often under-estimated and the importance of this relationship is confirmed in our results. The sub-item scores show that managers considered safety issues seriously (5.62, ranked first among 59 items), focused on safety at all times (5.51, ranked second), acted quickly to correct safety problems (5.50, ranked third) and always implemented corrective actions (5.49, ranked fourth). It is notable that management commitment has strong positive correlations with the remaining five dimensions (Table 6), which might also explain the high level of safety climate in this study. As one interviewee addressed:

as long as the leaders place high emphasis on safety, all the participants from different stakeholders will pay special attention to it… … (Participant 1)

[Zhang, S., Loosemore, M., Sunindijo, R. Y. & Gu, D. (2021) An investigation of safety climate in Chinese major construction projects. International Journal of Construction Management.]

Example 2

Research question 1: How do college-level Japanese EFL writers develop their genre awareness and knowledge in a systematically designed genre-based writing course that incorporates email-writing tasks?

Table 3 shows the result of the survey conducted at the end of the semester. In response to the first survey question (‘‘To what degree did you have prior experience with writing emails in English before taking this class?’’), the majority of the students answered that they came to the writing classroom with no previous experience (62.9%) or a little experience (31.4%) with writing emails in English. The follow-up interviews confirmed that at the beginning of the semester students had not seen emails in English before and did not even know how to begin and end an English email irrespective of the degree of formality. Of the 70 students, only 4 (5.7%) commented that they had some experience with email; even in these few cases, their experience was limited to classroom exercises and did not include real-life contexts. These results suggest that most of the students had never been taught directly how to effectively write emails and that students began the writing course with only a vague understanding of how to write emails in English.

yasuda

The second question of the survey was as follows: ‘‘To what degree do you think that you have improved your ability to write emails in English?’’ As Table 3 shows, all students responded positively and perceived that their ability to write emails had improved, although the degree of self-perception of their own improvement varied. The follow-up interviews indicated that the six students felt that they had not only improved but also gained confidence in writing emails in English; these observations can be seen in the following accounts by Keiko and Eri:

[1] Before taking this class, I did not have opportunities to write emails in English. So I didn’t know what they looked like, and my vocabulary choices were quite limited. However, as I read and analyzed a variety of email samples in this writing class, I learned some guidelines to draw upon and was able to develop my vocabulary choices. The increasing choices allowed me to see email writing as very enjoyable and to become confident in writing in English. (Keiko)

[2] Because I had no tools to refer to for email writing, I was very much afraid of email-writing activities when this course started. However, as I learned a variety of contexts for using the words that I had already known, I realized that email writing is not as difficult as had first thought. Above all, I found it very interesting to get a response from the reader of my email about what I wrote. This inspired me to write more and communicate more without being afraid of making mistakes. (Eri)

Extracts [1] and [2] provide an interesting insight into the nature of confidence and its relation to genre knowledge development. Both students recognize benefits gained in relation to confidence, but they experience this benefit for different reasons. Keiko’s confidence was increased due to her improved knowledge of language choices, while Eri gained confidence due to her improved sense of audience. The results suggest that these types of benefits may not happen concurrently for the same individuals; the type of benefits received may depend on an individual’s approach to writing and the factors considered when completing the genre-based tasks.

[Yasuda, S. (20110. Genre-based tasks in foreign language writing: Developing writers’ genre awareness, linguistic knowledge, and writing competence. Journal of Second Language Writing, 20, 111–133.]

Example 3

A clear vision and strategy of “becoming British” are mostly associated with this group. In our pre-referendum focus groups and interviews, only four participants emerged within this pattern (all of whom in their 20s), whereas in the survey, 38 respondents expressed similar views (most of whom in their 20s as well): lack of importance attached to national identity and greater importance to the need to formally integrate and, to an extent, assimilate.

Barbara (female Czech, full‐time student and au pair, late 20s, London)

I knew that I wanted to move since I was a child. [… G]rowing up in Prague I witnessed such hatred to everything foreign, it’s a very racist country … After coming here I cannot imagine [anymore] living without diversity, without other cultures, without other nationalities.… I feel at home here. […T] he UK really matches my personality. So I just decided to stay. [W] hen I go back everything is so different, I have to adapt again … I personally really like British culture. I really do.

[Ranta, R. & Nancheva, N. (2019).  Unsettled: Brexit and European Union nationals’ sense of belonging. Population, Place and Space, 25 (1)]

Example 4

arno macia 10

As shown in Table 10, a considerable number of students have applied the skills learnt in their ESP courses in a variety of situations, both academic (projects and assignments for other courses or the bachelor’s thesis) and professional (especially the job interview, which is not surprising given students’ forthcoming graduation). Considerable similarities are found in the three settings – leaving aside that some differences may be due to different course orientations, e.g., the focus on oral presentations in FHJ-3 and in one of the UPC-1 courses. In order to illustrate the range of applications mentioned, below are some examples for the main categories found:

Job-related

“Yes, I’ve done a job interview in English and this course has helped me a lot for this.” (UPC-1)
“I hope to do it in the next job interviews” (UPC-2)

Academic needs

“These skills have helped me in other subjects” (UPC-1)
“Yes, in my report writing process for my bio-ceramics subject it was highly helpful” (UPC-2)

Bachelor’s thesis

“For my bachelor thesis, to structure it better” (UPC-2)
“Referencing in Bachelor Thesis” (FHJ-3)

[Arnó-Macià, E., Aguilar-Pérez, M. & Tatzl, D. (2020). Engineering students’ perceptions of the role of ESP courses in internationalized universities. English for Specific Purposes, 58, 58–74.]

Example 5

The third cluster was named The exercising happy employee (n = 66; 22.5%). Indeed, it is clear based on normative data that this cluster was very physically active, being much higher than norms published by Baecke et al. (1982). With a mean level of 26.0 on life satisfaction, this group could also be considered to be ‘satisfied’ with their lives according to Pavot and Diener’s (1993) criteria. In contrast, their levels of self-esteem (M = 18.6) were, perhaps surprisingly, lower than norms based on both female and male samples of full-time employees as were their perceptions of job competence (M = 12.1) (Messer & Harter, 1986). However, levels of job satisfaction (M = 42.5) were very high, compared to results by Judge et al. (1998). Perhaps as a result, levels of enthusiasm (M = 21.2) and relaxation at work (M = 12.9) were several points above the mid-line of both scales. The cluster’s level of physical self-worth (M = 16.6) was nearly identical to a normative sample of male college students (M = 16.7; Fox, 1990) and an adult sample (M = 16.9; Sonstroem et al., 1992).

The interview accounts confirmed that work-related well-being was high in both of the selected cluster members. For both of the participants in this cluster, the level of job satisfaction was seen to impact on the way they evaluated satisfaction with their lives more generally. For example, one of the cluster members stated:

I think there are definite relationships. I spend eight hours, and actually more, inside [name of company], so if you’re not happy with that, then it does have a huge impact on your life, because it’s very difficult to be unhappy eight hours per day, and then sort of happy (Alice, 36 years old).

[Thogersen-Ntoumani, C., & Fox, K. R. (2005). Physical activity and mental well-being typologies in corporate employees: A mixed methods approach. Work & Stress, 19(1), 50-67.]

Language

From the examples above:

Table 5 shows that
Table 3 shows that …
As Table 3 shows, …
It is notable that … (Table 6),
In the survey, ….
As shown in Table 10,

The interviews offered some further insights …
Interviewees also commented that
As one interviewee addressed …
The follow-up interviews confirmed that …
The follow-up interviews indicated that …
In our focus groups and interviews, …
In order to illustrate the range of applications mentioned, below are some examples for the main categories found:
The interview accounts confirmed that …

Further information:

Reporting quantitative data

Reporting findings from interviews

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References