University of Nebraska Medical Center

Michelle Howell, PhD

Education Researcher, Interprofessional Academy of Educators
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion, College of Public Health


Dr. Michelle Howell

Michelle Howell, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she serves as an Educational Researcher for the Interprofessional Academy of Educators and teaches research methodology courses in the College of Public Health.

Trained by John Creswell and mentored by Vicki Plano Clark, Dr. Howell has developed expertise in mixed methods research designs, with particular focus on instrument development procedures such as grounded theory analysis, cognitive interviews and factor analysis. Dr. Howell has served as an evaluator on numerous mixed methods projects funded by NIH, NSF, and IES, as well as private contracts.

Additional Information

Research Interests

Dr. Howell is passionate about mixed methods research designs. She has served as the co-PI developing a library of youth outcome measure for the National 4-H Council using a mixed methods approach. She recently completed an NSF grant for a mixed methods-ground theory (MM-GT) study exploring how pre-engineering course with a maker space lab impacts high school student interest in engineering careers, a project stemming from her dissertation, which won the AERA Outstanding Mixed Methods Dissertation Award.

In addition to mixed methods research designs, Dr. Howell's research interests include educational supports for at-risk students, increasing women and underrepresented students in STEM fields, and best practices for developing surveys and assessments.  

  • BA, English, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • MA, Counseling & Personnel Services, University of Maryland 
  • PhD, Educational Psychology, specializing in quantitative, qualitative, and psychometric methods, University of Nebraska Lincoln
National Leadership Roles

Chair (2021-present)
American Education Research Association Mixed Methods Research Special Interest Group

Program Chair (2019-2021)
American Education Research Association Mixed Methods Research Special Interest Group

  • Most Cited Article, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 2020, 2021
  • Outstanding Mixed Methods Dissertation Award for “Factors that Facilitate or Inhibit Interest of Domestic Students in the Engineering Ph.D.: A Mixed Methods Study”; American Educational Research Association (AERA)


Perez, A., Howell Smith, M.C., Babchuk, W., Lynch-O'Brien, L. (2022). Assessing quality in mixed methods research: Extending the legitimation typology. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. (in press)

Bash, K., Howell Smith, M.C., & Trantham, P.A. (2021). A systematic methodological review of hierarchical linear modeling in mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 15(2) 190–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689820937882 

Howell Smith, M.C. & Shanahan-Bazis, P. (2021). Conducting mixed methods research systematic methodological reviews: A review of practice and recommendations. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 15(4) 546–566. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689820967626 

Howell Smith, M.C., Babchuk, W., Stevens, J., Garrett, A.L., Wang, S.C. & Guetterman, T.C. (2021). Modeling the use of mixed methods-grounded theory: Developing scales for a new measurement model. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 14(2) 184–206. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689819872599

Tippens, J.A., Hatton-Bowers, H. Honomichl, R., Wheeler, L., Miamidian, H.M., Bash, K.L., Howell Smith, M.C., Nyaoro, D, Byrd, J.J., Packard, S. (2021). Psychological distress prevalence and associated stressors and supports among urban Congolese refugees in a community setting in Kenya. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(5), 626–634. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000564 

Hatton-Bowers, H., Howell Smith, M.C., Huynh, T., Bash, K., Durden, T., Anthony, C., Foged, J. & Lodl, K. (2020). “I will be less judgmental, more kind, more aware, and resilient!”: Early childhood professionals’ learnings from an online mindfulness module. Early Childhood Education Journal, 48, 379–391. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-019-01007-6 

Voorhees, H.L. & Howell Smith, M.C. (2020). Qualitative and quantitative method integration in diabetes communication research: Applications and contributions. Qualitative Health Research, 30(2) 228–235. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732319868985 

Guetterman, T.C., Babchuk, W.A., Howell Smith, M.C., & Stevens, J. (2019). Contemporary approaches to mixed methods–grounded theory research (MM-GT): A field-based analysis. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 13(2) 179–195. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689817710877 

Huynh, T., Hatton-Bowers, H., & Howell Smith, M.C. (2019). A critical methodological review of mixed methods designs used in mindfulness research. Mindfulness, 10(5) 786–798. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1038-5