Re-envisioning instructional technology research in higher education environments: a content analysis of a grant program
Within the field of instructional technology, scholars have long worked to define the scope and purpose of research and its role in informing practice. Increasingly, researchers outside of the instructional technology field are conducting studies to examine their use of technology in educational contexts. Few studies have been done on how researchers in other disciplines are designing such studies. We conducted a content analysis of 60 proposals submitted from 2006 to 2010 to our internal grant competition for faculty research on instructional technology to better understand the kinds of studies being proposed. Categories explored within each proposal included academic discipline, collaboration, knowledge of previous literature, context, goals of study, and research design. A majority of proposals came from outside of the education field and were submitted by individuals rather than collaborative teams. Just under half of the proposals cited previous literature to justify their study, and just over half sought to examine classroom contexts. Roughly a third proposed to study distance education contexts. Most proposals were to examine the implementation of a new instructional strategy (rather than to conduct a media comparison study) and just over half utilized a quantitative research design collecting performance or satisfaction data. We include recommendations for those who may be interested in how better to support researchers in designing effective studies to investigate instructional technology use, highlighting the use of design-based research as a viable methodology.