Replicable educational research?

Last week the Chronicle ran an article that discussed how a sample of psychology studies’ results could not be reproduced. While the article was focused on psychology, it spoke to something that I’ve been increasingly wondering about – the reproducible quality of higher education research about online learning.

There does not seem to be much discussion around this – perhaps as I’m now moving into the methods and focused seminar courses in my grad program this topic will come up. However, it seems that graduate students are encouraged to come up with new ideas and carve out a niche in the field. Is that one of the issues…too many niches, not enough research that leads to significant results? Many studies have been conducted with sample sizes that are too small to generalize the results, and as one of the findings, call for more research in this area. Perhaps instead of more research, the authors could challenge others to reproduce their work.

This is one of the ideas that my colleagues and I have been talking about as well, and thinking about how our group could contribute solutions to the research replicatory issues in the field of higher education online learning.  Definitely more to come…

Photo by Sukanto Debnath

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