Mehdi Riazi is a professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University. His research interests include second language writing (the learning, teaching, and assessing), test validation (especially argument-based approach), research methods (especially mixed methods research), and issues related to (language) teaching and learning. He is the author of The Routledge Encyclopedia of Research Methods (Routledge, 2016) and Mixed Methods Research in Language Teaching and Learning (Equinox, 2017).
The interface between sociocognitive theory and mixed methods research in language studies
While mixed methods research (MMR) is a well-established methodological approach in disciplines such as health and nursing, social sciences, and education, it has not become widespread yet in the second language (L2) learning studies. There could be two reasons why MMR is not as standard in the L2 research as it is in other fields. The first reason could be the fact that methodological developments in L2 research have not been proportionate to advancements in construct definition in L2 research. For example, while a sociocognitive perspective provides affordances for conceiving more complex issues related to L2 learning, there have not been corresponding methodological theorisations to capture the complexity of the defined constructs. The second reason might be related to the fact most L2 studies that use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis fall short of framing the studies within a coherent mixed methods design. The core feature of mixed methods research (MMR) is mixing the two sets of data and analysis for particular purposes and achieving more comprehensive outcomes. This paper, therefore, intends to discuss and illustrate how a sociocognitive theory as a multi-layered theoretical perspective of construct definition in L2 studies can lead to an MMR methodology for data collection and analysis. The discussion will hopefully build a rationale for leveraging the use of MMR to study more complex language-related issues than those usually conducted through pure quantitative or qualitative methods.