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In the article "Educational Technology Research That Makes a Difference: Series Introduction" M.D. Roblyer addresses the need for a series of how-to articles on writing educational technology research that make a "strong case for technology's pedagogical contributions" (2005). A number of authors, according to Roblyer, have cited weaknesses that include disjointed efforts to study technology resources and strategies, weak methods, methods that do not match research questions, and poor reporting that make attempts to replicate subsequent studies difficult at best. For this reason, Roblyer's provides five pillars or criteria educational technology research should adhere to in order to be helpful.
Pillar 1: The Significance Criterion
Helpful research must provide a "clear and compelling case" for why it exists. Specifically, technology researchers need to recognize what makes a study significant enough to take on in in the context of education today.
Pillar 2: The Rationale Criterion
New research should seek to build on a foundation of theory. In doing so, helpful research will include a rationale that is grounded in theory and discusses expected effects drawn from past research.
Pillar 3: The Design Criterion
According to Roblyer, The Design Criterion is the most challenging. Here, the research has established research questions and must determine a suitable approach (i.e. experimental and quasi-experimental designs) and method or measuring impact on the identified variables. Articles reporting technology research and meeting this criterion will have a well developed methods section that shows a strong connection between the questions posed in the study and the designs and methods utilized.
Pillar 4: The Comprehensive Reporting Criterion
This criterion urges technology researchers to include a "structured abstract" with every research report. In doing so, researchers ensure that completed research enables future researchers can use and build upon it. Structured abstracts will follow APA format and include the following elements in detail: background on the study, purpose, setting, subjects, intervention, research design, data collection and analysis, findings, and conclusion.
Pillar 5: The Cumulativity Criterion
The best research will be well situated between the past and the future. This means that the research will clearly state the study is part of current or proposed research for the future and will pose next steps for future research.
To conclude, Roblyer provides four types of studies that move the field forward: research to establish relative advantage, improve implementation strategies, monitor impact on important societal goals, and monitor and report on common uses and shape desired directions.
Through the "Educational Technology Research That Makes a Difference: Series Introduction" Roblyer provides practical solutions to a significant problem with technology research--quality assurance. By providing a solution in the form of five criterion or "pillars" the article serves as the How-to guide it was intended to be. By providing detailed examples and clear actionable steps the series introduction provides would-be researchers a roadmap for developing technology research that moves the field of technology research in the culture of education today forward. Furthermore, Roblyer's conclusion is a clear call to action for would-be researchers and existing researchers alike to conduct and share good educational research in the hopes of ultimately finding a path to educational technology that makes a difference.
As noted in the readings this week, doctoral students choose to become researchers because they want to make a difference. For this reason, a how-to guide with a clearly defined criteria for conducting and reporting on educational technology that makes a difference is invaluable. The detailed descriptions of each criterion are especially helpful as I begin to think about what contributions I would like to make to educational technology research. Finally, I will be revisiting the "structured abstract" format that was outlined in Pillar 4: The Comprehensive Reporting Criterion in the future. I appreciate having a tick list of elements to include in my writing to ensure it is comprehensive.
Roblyer, M. D. (2005). Educational technology research that makes a difference: Series introduction.
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 5(2), 192-201.