Against the Quantitative-Qualitative Incompatibility Thesis (Or Dogmas Die Hard)

Publisher: Educational Researcher, 17 (8)
Page Numbers: 10-16

Over approximately the last 20 years, the use of qualitative methods in educational research has evolved from being scoffed at to being viewed as useful for provisional exploration, to being accepted as a valuable alternative approach in its own right, to being embraced as capable of thoroughgoing integration with quantitative methods. Progress has been halting, and it is not surprising that certain thinkers are now balking at the latest stage of development. The chief worry is that the capitulation to "what works" ignores the incompatibility of the competing positivistic and interpretivist epistemological paradigms that purportedly undergird quantitative and qualitative methods, respectively. Appealing to a pragmatic philosophical perspective, this paper argues that no incompatibility between quantitative and qualitative methods exists at either the level of practice or that of epistemology and that there are thus no good reasons for educational researchers to fear forging ahead with "what works."