Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research

Winter 2023 (2 units)

The focus of this course is qualitative and mixed methods research, with a particular emphasis on the role of qualitative or open-ended inquiry in health-related implementation research. Implementation research is the study of how research-informed practice change can be fostered and sustained in health systems or community settings. Implementation researchers understand that solutions have to work in real-world conditions, which are inherently complex and changeable. Qualitative methods are essential in implementation research because they enable an in-depth consideration of the dynamic context of implementation – including institutional structures, stakeholder groups’ interests and interactions, human-technology interactions, and political, economic, legal, and social conditions. This course will present multiple qualitative and mixed methods research strategies by way of readings, lectures, case studies, and online discussions. Trainees will gain basic skills in conducting interviews, focus groups, and observations, qualitative and mixed methods data analysis, and innovative approaches such as rapid analysis and feedback and joint display of qualitative and quantitative findings. The course will also cover philosophical foundations, theory, and methodological topics including sampling, generalization, and validity.


At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Design and plan a qualitative or mixed methods research project.
  • Describe the uses, advantages and disadvantages of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic observation.
  • Develop an interview and focus group guide; Engage in collaborative qualitative data analysis.
  • Critically evaluate the use of methodological paradigms and theoretical models to inform qualitative and mixed methods implementation research.
  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative data integration and linking.
  • Explain why a qualitative/open-ended approach is an essential component of all implementation research.


Training or experience in public health, epidemiology, quality improvement or health care organization leadership. Exceptions for these prerequisites may be made with the consent of the course director.


Course Co-Director:

Sara Ackerman, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences
email: [email protected]

Course Co-Director

Kim Koester, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
email: kimberly,[email protected]


Weekly course content will be delivered via video lectures, case studies, and readings. Students will post weekly assignments in online discussion forums, and provide/receive feedback through the online discussion forums and weekly in-person discussion sessions.

All course materials and handouts will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


Required readings will be posted on the course website. Best practices for mixed methods research in the health sciences. Creswell JW, Klassen AC, Plano Clark VL, Smith KC for the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. August 2011. National Institutes of Health.For those without any training in research methods, suggested textbook: Qualitative methods in implementation science. National Cancer Institute.


Students will submit a 3-5 page plan for a research project or health program that incorporates qualitative or mixed methods.

To Enroll

ATCR and MAS students use the Student Portal

All other students can find registration information on the Implementation Science website