Mixed Methods and Pragmatism for Research on Occupation

  • Kendra Heatwole Shank


A transactional perspective of occupation means appreciating it as a relationship of person and situation, characterized by complexity, creativity, and habit. A transactional perspective may necessitate multiple methodological approaches and multiple sources of information. The complexities of occupation deserve a diversity of tools, but using mixed methods to answer questions about occupation is not common. Adopting the perspective of the pragmatists suggests that research should be focused on a problematic situation, and should employ the methods most likely to increase understanding of that situation. In this chapter I take a broad look at how pragmatism has been used as a justification for mixed methods research, then extend the justification and suggest how integrating a pragmatic approach with plural methods is particularly useful for studying occupation. I use concepts from John Dewey’s writings to show the synergy of pragmatism and mixed methods, including holism, provisionality of knowledge, the situatedness of inquiry, and the value-laden nature of research. The chapter concludes with a practical examination of how to use a mixed methods approach to effectively answer questions about occupation, and I argue that utilizing mixed methods and pragmatism can move occupational science forward.


Mixed Method Problematic Situation Mixed Method Approach Mixed Method Research Diverse Method 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational TherapyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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