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Journal Article

Assessing Impact and Bridging Methodological Divides: Randomized Trials in Countries Affected by Conflict

Dana Burde
Comparative Education Review
Vol. 56, No. 3 (August 2012), pp. 448-473
DOI: 10.1086/664991
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664991
Page Count: 26
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Assessing Impact and Bridging Methodological Divides: Randomized Trials in Countries Affected by Conflict
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Abstract

Randomized trials have experienced a marked surge in endorsement and popularity in education research in the past decade. This surge reignited paradigm debates and spurred qualitative critics to accuse these experimental designs of eclipsing qualitative research. This article reviews a current iteration of this debate and examines two randomized trials that incorporate mixed methods to analyze (a) how randomized trials stand up to qualitative critics and (b) how qualitative methods can enhance randomized trials. Each study presented employs an experimental design with both quantitative and qualitative methods. I argue that randomized trials can be used to great effect, particularly in conjunction with qualitative methods. Mixed-methods research designs to study program impact can minimize the trade-offs experienced by overreliance on one approach. Furthermore, international education researchers bring formidable contextual knowledge to bear on these approaches. Mixed methods that incorporate randomized trials hold promise for international and comparative education research.

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