Evaluation theory and practice today are characteristically pluralistic, embracing diverse perspectives, methods, data, and values within and across studies that aim to generate more insightful and meaningful evaluative claims. This volume seeks to strengthen the promise of pluralistic evaluation by advancing an enhanced conceptual framework for planning and implementing mixed-method evaluation studies. Previous mixed-method work has concentrated on the technical level of method, focusing on combining qualitative and quantitative methods within one evaluation study. The present mixed-method volume addresses the philosophical level of paradigm, analyzing the challenges of combining in one study different, even conflicting, assumptions about the nature of social phemena and our claims to kw them. The volume argues for a shift in the mixed-method conversation. The shift would be away from a preoccupation with explicit assumptive differences among paradigms, such as objectivity-subjectivity and realism-relativism, and toward other characteristics of social inquiry traditions. Such characteristics define these traditions in important ways but are t logically irreconcilable. The significant advance here is to redirect the bases for mixing methods away from what may well be incommensurable philosophical assumptions and toward other inquiry characteristics that can more productively share a common analytic space. Through analysis of illustrative cases, this volume presents an array of conceptual and practical ideas for promising mixed-method inquiry directions. This is the 74th issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Evaluation.
JENNIFER C. GREENE is associate professor of human services studies at Cornell University. Her evaluation work concentrates on qualitative, participatory, and mixed-method approaches. VALERIE J. CARACELLI is senior social science analyst at the U.S. General Accounting Office.