Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 2 AECT 2012: Part 2 - Problems with Sampling in EdTech Research

This post is part of a Multiple Part Series on the 2012 AECT Convention.
#AECT 2012

Went to a presentation by Patrick Lowenthal on some of the issues that we come across in higher education research. He discussed a few interesting key points:
  • We assume that we know what the research shows. For example: "Most of the research in _____ is quantitative in nature." Unfortunately, this is often just an assumption and it may not be totally accurate. A systematic review often reveals that our assumptions are incorrect.
  • We often have issues with our research because we do convenience sampling. For example, the research done in some forms of online interaction nearly all focused on classes in education-related fields in higher education. This tends to skew our view of what education is like. Anyone going into education most likely had a nice educational experience, so they might approach their learning in different ways. 
Patrick asks a key question:

These kinds of ideas are appropriate and important for researchers. We base our assumptions about instructional design on the models research we are exposed to. And we base our work on those assumptions. This is a pretty scary proposition, and it implies that we often do this in other areas of life. I have my assumptions on how things work - instructional design, business, higher education, nutrition, etc. - but these are only based on what I know, on what I think based on my limited experiences and exposure to the environment. By gaining knowledge of what is actually there and identifying my own assumptions, I could potentially increase my personal ability to be effective at what I do.

This is related to something my philosopher friend at Franklin University continually hammers on. We live, believe and behave based on our assumptions about life.  However, he argues that most people usually do not base their assumptions on evidence or logic, and this can have disastrous consequences. I hope to write more on this when I have a little time.

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