There is no doubt that incarceration of parents is one of the greatest punishments children suffer when they are incarcerated from their parents. The additional challenges that come as a result of parental incarceration include material hardship and financial instability, instability in family relationships, poor educational results among children, and social problems such as stigma. Many a time, children of incarcerated parents are termed as the forgotten victims of imprisonment. Statistics show that there were 1.7 million children of incarcerated parents in the United States as of 2007 (Shlafer, Poehlmann, Coffino, & Hanneman, 2009. P. 508). Several million other children have grown up with one of their parents in prison during some part of their formative years. Equally, the incarcerated parents suffer the same tone of pain because issues happening to their children is of immense concern to them. It can be argued that research studies conducted to identify the effect of parental imprisonment on children are still in its infancy stages because majority of these studies have been conducted on a small scale basis. The aim of this mixed method research plan is to examine the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated parents. Findings from this research will provide implications for future research in addition to providing recommendations for policy makers.
This mixed method research plan aims to show the impacts suffered by children as a result of their parents becoming incarcerated. With the application of multiple research methods, this research plan will explore the challenges suffered by children of incarcerated parents, examine the causes of their parents’ incarceration, examine the behavior of the affected children and parents, and examine the effects of incarceration on the gender, age, and schooling of the children. As such, both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be employed in this study (Creswell, 2003).
For quantitative research part of this study, issues relating to incarcerated parents will form the dependent variables of the study and will be tested against the independent variables as defined under quantitative methods. Secondary data collected from written literatures, and statistics on the subject under study will be used to support the study. The outcome of intervention programs aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism will be compared against the case of increased cases of recidivism due to external factors. On the other part of this research, qualitative research methods and theories will provide the framework for identifying the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated parents as a result of their parents’ incarceration. Grounded ethnography theory, observations, and constructivist worldview perspectives will be employed in this study (Creswell, 2009, p. 16). Phenomenology will also be used to collect the experiences of each participant.
Research Questions and Hypothesis
The following research questions will guide the mixed method research plan:
Does the mixture of both qualitative and quantitative methods increase the validity and integrity the research findings with regard to the impacts faced by children of incarcerated parents?
Can the application of the mixed method research plan help in offsetting the weaknesses of quantitative and qualitative research by drawing on the strengths of each method?
These research hypotheses were formulated based on the research questions above:
Mixing quantitative and qualitative research methods improve the completeness of the research study by offering comprehensive data and outcome of the study
The integrity, validity, and credibility of research findings is enhanced with the application of both quantitative and qualitative research methods in a single study
This research study will examine the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated parents by obtaining quantitative and qualitative results. The qualitative and quantitative methods will be employed to run concurrently whereby the data collected will be integrated using a transformative design. Other than transformation, the concurrent design will help to validate one form of data to the other.
Comparison: Mixed Method Research Method, Qualitative Research, and Quantitative Method
The purpose of this paper is to provide a comparison of the application of the mixed method research method, the qualitative research method, and the quantitative methods as applied in examining the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated parents. This entails performing a comparison and evaluation of the strengths and limitation of each of the methods based on the research topic.
The application of each of the three methods identified above are aimed at examining the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated parents. The data collection methods collected using the three research methods will be used for providing similar research implications and directions for future research on intervention programs to reduce recidivism. The subjects of the study in all research methods are same because it involves either having direct or indirect contact with the offenders or children of the incarcerated parents.
In qualitative research, the researcher employ methods aimed at exploring and understanding the impact of incarceration of parents or recidivism to parents. Specific questions aimed at collecting information related to the topic under study will be asked and a detailed view of information from participants will be collected. The data will be interpreted and information drawn. In quantitative research, structured procedures are employed to collect data from samples ex-offenders using quantitative questionnaires. The mixed method research incorporates inquiry methods and philosophical assumptions in a single study (Easterby-Smith, et al, 2008).
The application of the quantitative research method focuses on the estimation of the cause-and-effect relationships on the impacts suffered by children as a result of their parent’s incarceration either as first time offenders or through recidivism. Additionally, this method states the precise hypothesis of the study before the commencement of the investigation to establish the reduction of recidivism. Deductive theoretical approaches are also employed to govern the investigative process. Other significant characteristics of this method is the control and manipulation of the independent variable, representation and summary of findings in numerical form, study of behavior, sample specification, and application of logical and statistical methods to determine reliability and validity (Creswell, 2003). Conclusions are stated with a determined degree of certainty.
Qualitative research describes the on-going processes concerning the topic under study. As such, hypotheses are developed as the research investigation continues with the specification of research questions to govern the purpose of the research investigation (Creswell, 2003). Equally, the qualitative research method is concerned with the natural effects affecting the participants of the study and data collected from the study is represented in form of narratives. Other differences includes purposeful selection of samples, using logical analysis to account for alternative explanations, and application of triangulation to test for reliability and validity. Conclusions are tentative because they are subject to ongoing examination.
The mixed method research as applied in investigating the impacts suffered by children of incarcerated families combines the quantitative and qualitative statistics in a single study (Creswell, 2003). As such, a combination of methods of inquiry as well as philosophical assumptions in different phases of the study. Philosophical assumptions give the study the direction for collecting and analyzing data. The mixed method research, through the combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, provides a better understanding of items under research as compared to a research scenario that employs either of the research approach.
Creswell, J. (2009). Research design Qualitative, Quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage Publishers. Los Angeles, CA
Shlafer, R. J., Poehlmann, J., Coffino, B., & Hanneman, A. (2009). Mentoring children with incarcerated parents: Implications for research, practice, and
policy. NIHPA Manuscripts 58(5): 507-519
Creswell, J. W., (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers
Easterby-Smith, et al. (2008). Management Research – Third Edition, SAGE Publications, London.