Week 11 _ Research in IT: Concepts, Paradigm, Methods, and Trends

Question 2: Based on research conducted in instructional technology field, what are your thoughts on the importance of the research questions and the effectiveness of the research methodologies? How good are these questions and research methodologies? What suggestions do you have regarding questions and research methodologies that the IT practitioners and research should be aware of?

1.     What are my thoughts on the importance of research questions and effectiveness of the research methodologies?

            The status and future of research in instructional design and technology IDT is dependent of the research questions asked and the utilizing the proper research methods support the question(s) asked. Research uses philosophy to guide their quest. For me, research is about life-long learning.

            Bentz and Shapiro (1998) authors of Mindful Inquiry in Social Research in the last twenty years, research and science has changed in major ways. The shift of thinking has moved into thinking of scientific research and disciplined inquiry. Research context and approach has moved from this idea of an individual researcher to a larger community of scholars. Bentz and Shapiro promote the concept that effective and efficient research begins with the individual that learning begins with inquiry. Bentz and Shapiro describe learning as being mindful. They write; “And because inquiry and research in the human and social sciences occur within a number of divergent cultures of inquiry and research traditions, you should work at comparing and critically evaluating several cultures of inquiry and the research traditions in which they are embodied in your area of intellectual interest of professional work.” (p. 10)  

            Research requires socialization into a community of learners. Bentz and Shapiro stated that the community of learners involves social learning. “This means that learning not about research methods in the abstract but the research methods that are currently in use and the controversies surrounding them. It means learning the language, and social conventions of the community.” (p. 12). The community determines the research agenda. The community follows “rational procedures of argument, criticism and evaluation and to get at that ever-elusive “truth”.” (p 12)

            In the mid to 1980’s, Hannafin and Hannafin (In Anglin, 1995, p. ) identified three variables that influence IDT research ; behavioral science research traditions, diffuse research identity, and attitudes of the field toward research.(p. 314). In identifying these variables, they identified research barriers; including 1) implicit research publication standards that limited publishing original research; 2) the expanding role of IDT creating diversity and dissimilar interests consequently “there was little research programs were in place, there was little collective correspondence across programs to evolving unifying empirical foundations for the field.” (p. 316-317. 3).There is minimal commitment to research and supported at academic setting that required providing support of time, resources or students.  These barriers restrict effective and efficient research and inhibit asking meaningful inquiry questions.

            Through identifying and acknowledge these barriers; the researcher begins the first step in is making a paradigm shift. According to Kuhn, the paradigm that guides our research necessarily delimits our problems, theoretical assumptions and mythologies.” According to Kuhn ‘numerous paradigm may view for acceptability and dominance.” (In Anglin, p. 322.)        

2.     How good are theses questions and research methodologies?

            Conn and Gitonga (2004) reported the status of training performance research using a content methodology approach and concluded Human Performance Technology (HPT), or performance technology “has had a significant impact on the instructional design and technology field.” Their study purpose was to identify the quantity, types and range of topics related to workplace learning and performance. HPT “focuses on eliminating the causes of ineffective workplace performance through the most costs effective method. This may include instructional or non-instructional solutions.” (p. 16). Five research questions guided them; 1) how much literature is related to workplace learning and performance. 2) In relation to learning and performance, what is the article focus? 3) What organizational setting are the articles presented? 4) How are performance intervention represented? 5) How are interventions evaluated?

            The above questions guided their analysis the authors concluded that journal publications “needs to encourage increased publications in the areas identified as gaps”. Based on their conclusion put forward a performance problem, and recommend instructional designers / technologies (IDT) should ask critical questions. Conn and Gitonga asked: 1) how can general framework of design for situational learning and performance be developed. 2) How can instructional design learning be streamlined, be cost effective, and able to meet “short training and product development lead times? 3) What is the IDT role in “designing and development of adaptable and flexible tools to support training process for various situations?” (p. 78)

         Following Conn & Gitonga (2004), Hew, Kale, & Kim (2007) reviewed and categorized empirical studies related to three major journals. They examine four areas using asked questions related to 1) the types of instructional technology topics conducted, 2) the applied methods, 3) the preferred data collection methods, 4) the conducted research setting for instructional technology.

            Their question analysis identified four main research topics: 1) media study; 2) psychology of learning and instruction; 3) instructional design approaches; 4) research and evaluation methodology. The results were media study and psychology of learning and instruction are topics commonly presented. (p. 290). Descriptive research methods are commonly preferred, using survey /questionnaire within higher educational and k-12 settings.

            Hew, Kale, and Kim (2004) study offers certainly implications that future instructional technology research can take. First, the effectiveness and efficiency of ID can take “is to validate the various instructional design and development models found in the field.” Second, is evaluating (DBM) design-based methods. DBM requires using educational interventions and systematical studying these forms in context to develop theories that target domain-specific learning process.” (p. 275). DBM research “entails a continuous cycle of design, enactment, analysis and redesign. (Collins, 1992) (In Hew, Kale, and Kim, p. 275) 

 3.  What suggestions do you have regarding questions and research methodologies that the IT practitioners and research should be aware of?

            Thomas Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolution, Kuhn says at this point in research, “The developing nature of inquiry of instructional systems, the field should embrace a wide variety of research paradigms and not yield to the dominance of any one. The implications of inquiry at this point “can lead researchers to creative solutions to research problems.” (In Anglin, p. 322) Holding a narrow belief or view, restricts our asking important questions related to instructional design technologies models and their implications. The consequences are great. If important questions are not asked then the incorrect methods are not utilized and the consequences are creative solutions are not discussed or evaluated.

            For me, as budding researcher, I must balance and be respectful of the historical achievements, but also acknowledge and understand current research process. It is crucial to acknowledge and recognize research a paradigm shift can occur, but it is important to validate using scientific methods of inquiry.

            It is also critical to recognize that other factors can influence IDT. According to Driscoll, these social, political, or economic problems impair technology effectiveness. Driscoll suggest using a system-based designs “will enable use to determine what makes technologies effective in some settings and not others, so when will be less likely to discount a technology simply because it was not the solution to a particular problem.” (In Anglin, p. 326)

            It is also important to recognize that future IDT systems, including model, theory development and validation is determined by more diverse groups of learners. As individuals grow, new problems will arise, requiring new analysis techniques. As an example, adult learners are problem-based learner as opposed to subject-centered learners. The choice of technology should be driven by the needs of the learners and the context, which they are working or learning, not by novelty.

            In instruction design, different learner methods suit different learning needs. Conn & Gitonga (2004) studies reflect the importance of research related to human performance technology, in contrast to Hew, Kale, and Kim (2004) examined empirical studies. They found common research studies reported are media and instructional design models, instructional process, and community theories used.

            For me, I believe we must cognitive of an ascribed active research community that is based on practice; however, one cannot ignore the importance of personal reflection, professional judgment, and both formal and informal observation. One’s peers ultimately judge performance; this includes meeting scrutinized academic ethical and moral research standards.


            Effective and efficient research begins with a personal commitment and interest in inquiry. A research community determining the expected agenda guides inquiry, Effective research methods and intervention process selection must match the research question(s). In deciding, what question deserves asking, Driscoll refers to Thomas Kuhn (1970) author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Driscoll writes; “When deciding on which problems most urgently require solutions? It is important to answer this question because adherence to a particular research paradigm may affect which problems we are ultimately able to solve.” (In Anglin, p. 322). Research should seek solutions

            Conn and Gitonga (2004) focused their research and recommendations related to workplace learning and performance. Hew, Kale, and Kim (2007) focused their research to analysis of empirical studies related to instructional technology, their descriptive findings provides a “potential direction” that can guide future instructional design and model development.

            Social, economic and political forces influence technology. These variables can affect effective and efficient instruction design and development. Technology adoption and diffusion are often determined by through market place cost effectiveness and cost analysis. (In Anglin, p. 326)


About frankohara

Instructional Design Technology student, enrolled at West Virginia University. Currently enrolled in Course work instructed by Ugar Kale, Ph.D, at West Virginia University. Current, Fall 2010, course work is IDT Issues and Trends.
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