Document Type

Working Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Conway, Ann (2009) Giving adult learners a voice after the inquest: A review of a mixed method approach to educational research. Working paper submitted as partial fulfulment of the EdD at the University of Sheffield.


This paper highlights the necessary application of mixed methods in educational research within the field of adult learners and lifelong learning in higher education to provide adult learners with a “voice”. The paper will introduce the reader to educational research through focusing on mixed methods and the theoretical frameworks within. Critical hermeneutic epistemology or transformative research (as espoused by Freire and Habermas in critical realism cited in Morrow and Torres, (2002)), social constructivism within phenomenology (see Vygotsky’s (1934) and Bruner (1996) work cited in Carlile and Jordan, 2005: 21-22) and pragmatism within the critical realism school (The Chicago School of biographical studies were grounded in pragmatism (West et al, 2007)) will be reviewed as examples of methodologies in the theoretical frameworks within mixed methods. This will then introduce the reader to some types of research methods used within mixed methods such as case study interviews, life histories and biographical studies. Finally the paper will propose that the purpose of using a mixed method approach using case studies and biographies is to provide the adult learner with a “voice”.