The experience of and reflection on triangulation and/or mixed methods, discussing a study on the ideal and reality, use and understanding of history textbooks
This paper reflects on the achievements of triangulation but also on its inconsistencies and contradictions. It suggests that mixed methods can be confusing. Good triangulation should involve intensive reflection on a variety of materials and analyses, as well as a necessary complexity of questions and results.This implies a tolerant overlap between single-method and mixed-methods approaches. The paper illustrates these points by discussing an early example of mixed-methods research, a large project – Understanding of Textbooks, Use of Syllabuses and Processes of Reflection in History Lessons – carried out by the author in 2002. The aim of this study was to evaluate history textbooks and the ways in which historical sources and narratives were presented and used. It involved both a closed format, which produced quantitative data – a questionnaire, used to collect data on participants' knowledge, attitudes, emotions, and competences – and qualitative data collected from a subgroup of participants, who wrote short essays related to sections of the questionnaire. Some were interviewed after completing the questionnaire ('stimulated recall'). In this way, a type of two-step triangulation study emerged involving micro- and macro-analysis. The paper reflects on positive aspects of the study and also on its weakness. Participants' responses showed almost no correlation between their definition of the ideal textbook, which would deal with controversial issues, and the ways in which they used textbooks, with no recognition of the ambiguity.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 1, 2019
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- The History Education Research Journal (HERJ) is an international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the global significance and impact of history education. It covers all aspects of history education theory, scholarship, and pure and applied research. Articles illuminate contemporary issues, concerns, policies and practice, drawing upon the eclectic research methodologies of history education. The journal is published in partnership with the Historical Association.
HERJ is a relaunch of the International Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research. All past issues up to and including vol. 15, no. 1 were published under this title. HERJ vol. 15, no. 2 is the first to be published by UCL IOE Press.
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