Call for Papers: Replication Research in Higher Education and Instructional Technology

Special Issue Co-Editors:

Natalie B. Milman, George Washington University, United States
Camille Dickson-Deane, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Ginger S. Watson, University of Virginia, United States
Tim Guetterman, University of Michigan, United States

Keywords:  replication research involving instructional technology higher education, instructional technology replication studies,  

Over the past decade, significant questions and criticisms have arisen regarding the methodological rigor, synthesis, and replication of educational research to make meaning of findings and drive important instructional practice and policy decisions. Such questioning and criticism are not new to researchers, nor should they be dismissed, especially in light of the hyper-politicized and polarized views many have of science and education in general and educational research in particular. These challenges call for better communication of findings in lay terms and a broader reach, as well as justification for and validation of research. When conducting research, the “ultimate validation,” no matter the research methods used, is the ability to replicate research (Krathwohl, 1997, p. 623). However, various definitions for replication research exists, as several researchers have noted such as Vachon et al. (2021) who conducted a concept analysis and meta-analytic review to develop a definition of replication research. According to Vachon et al. (2021),

A replication study is a study that is methodologically or conceptually similar to an earlier one. It is a deliberate repetition of an index study in whole, in part, or conceptually. It provides a means to assess the reliability, validity, and/or generalizability of previous findings or theory. A replication study may not only verify earlier research, but also may broaden the scope of the findings and test whether the original findings can stand as general principles. It is possible to describe how much variation exists between index and replication studies in terms of the amount of planning of the study, the distance between the investigators, and the similarity between the research questions or hypothesis and methods of the index study. (pp. 184-185)

 Essentially, replication studies involve the duplication/reproduction, reiteration or refocus of research study elements (Christensen et al., 2021; Milman et al., 2016). The elements include a theoretical framework, research questions/hypothesis, research design, implementation procedures, instrumentation, participants, context, analysis methods and findings. Vachon et al. (2021) outlined four major elements consisting of “the amount of planning, distance between investigators, similarity between the research question or hypothesis, and compliance with the methods” (p. 181). Clearly, elements may vary when conducting replication studies, depending on the degree to which researchers desire and can realistically replicate the elements of the original (or index) study. Although replication studies have been conceptualized using other schema (e.g., Lykken, 1968), the typology above was developed by a large group of instructional technology researchers (Christensen et al., 2021; Milman et al., 2016). 

There are numerous purposes and potential benefits resulting from replication research, ranging from “ultimate validation” or confirmation of prior research findings to increasing confidence, reliability, and generalizability, just to name a few. However, in many fields of research, including that of education, instructional technology, higher education, and the nexus of these three fields, there has been very little replication research published, even though instructional technology researchers have called for replication research (e.g., Hodges, 2015; Spector et al., 2014).

The “singular lack of replication studies” (Dron, 2021, p. 1) in the field of instructional technology is problematic for many reasons, notwithstanding the need to understand the use of the same tools in different contexts and with different and diverse populations. The demand for research to better inform effective conditions, methods, and evaluation of technology-facilitated and technology-enhanced learning in post-secondary settings is at an all-time high.

Research in education has a long history of being contextually-driven. Findings from one setting or population, may have very different results if replicated in a different context or with different populations. Although experimental design research and meta-analyses provide methods for understanding how, if at all, research is traditionally understood to be generalizable, the fact of the matter is that educational research, even when the best of conditions exist, has potentially many confounding variables that might influence findings because the teaching-learning process is quite simply very complex. Moreover, our world and understanding of it--including our comprehension of how people learn, are constantly changing, as are technology tools. Replication research can help increase rigor and foster confidence in the roles of technology in the teaching and learning process.

Special Call for Replication Research in Higher Education and Instructional Technology

This special issue/series seeks high-quality manuscripts on the following topics (but not limited to): 

  1. Replication studies that are conducted in different, well-documented contexts, that investigate instructional treatments with diverse learner populations.
  2. Research that contributes to the need, role, methods, and use of replication studies to enhance our understanding of the design, development, and implementation of instructional processes and technologies in higher education. 
  3. Original research, literature reviews, implementation and evaluation studies, and theoretical, conceptual, and policy papers that provide perspectives on instructional technology’s role in improving access, affordability, and outcomes of postsecondary education. 

Replication studies should demonstrate a strong grounding in learning and instructional theory and rigorous educational research design, in addition to established guidelines and frameworks for designing the replication study (Christensen et al., 2021; NSF & IES, 2018). We seek replication studies that:

  • Explore the role of replication studies in instructional technology implementation in higher education
  • Assess the role of postsecondary policies, issues, problems, and research associated with instructional technology and digital learning
  • Examine new teaching methods and trends aimed at increasing student success and college completion
  • Investigate integration of technology in higher education settings
  • Present intervention research focusing on tools, processes, and/or methods aimed at increasing access, affordability, and outcomes of higher education

Articles may include, but are not limited to replication studies in higher education involving instructional technology, such as:

- Rigorous and situated direct and conceptual replication studies;
- Replication theories, methods, and
- Frameworks for conducting, situating, and preparing replication studies  

Submission Information  

Please submit an extended abstract (max 1000 words) of the proposed article to this form. All manuscripts should incorporate APA 7th edition guidelines and will undergo blind peer review.  

Important Dates:  

  1. November 5, 2022- Overview of proposed article due
  2. January 15, 2023 - Notice of invitation to submit
  3. October 30, 2023 - Paper Submission Due
  4. January 30, 2024 - Reviewer Feedback to authors
  5. August 15, 2024 - Revisions Due
  6. November 15, 2024 - Acceptance Notification
  7. December 2025 - Publication (potentially earlier pending timeframe for all completed manuscripts)

References

Christensen, R., Spector, J. M., Thompson, A., Schmidt-Crawford, D., Bull, G. & Knezek, G. (2015). Innovation versus replication in research findings: Has the novelty of new research findings worn off?.In D. Slykhuis & G. Marks (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2015 (pp. 1126-1129). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Christensen, R., Hodges, C.B. & Spector, J.M. (2021). A framework for classifying replication studies in educational technologies research. Technology, Knowledge, & Learning.https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-021-09532-3

Dron, J. (2021). Educational technology: What it is and how it works. AI & Society.https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-021-01195-z