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Bonjour Tristesse: Why Don’t We Research as We Have Been Taught? Methodological Considerations on Instructional Technology Research
Norbert M. Seel

The quality of research in the field of Instructional Technology has sometimes been criticized as generally poor. It has been argued that much instructional research contributes little to the basic theories of learning that underpin teaching and has little value for solving practical problems. To remove this obstacle the idea of design experiments was introduced in the 1990s. Design experiments aim at particular forms of educational interventions that create novel conditions for learning and instruction. In this article, design experiments are considered as a special case of field experiments aiming at the improvement of external validity, defined in terms of population and situation validity. Moreover, design experiments can be used as a heuristics for both designing synthetic learning environments and conducting systematic research on them. More specifically, it is argued that design experiments can be used for replication studies and, thus, contribute to causal inferences and ecological validity. However, design experiments are not novel in a narrow sense but rather an elaboration of field experiments. The claim is that design experiments entail the potential for both the instructional science and educational practice. My prediction is that design experiments will emerge from their productive location in instructional research to make a useful contribution to the evaluation field.

Keywords: Instructional research, design experiments, synthetic learning environments, simulations.

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