Two Theoretical Framework Articles

A few days ago I met with Dr. Graham and, upon his advice as well as my own inclination, agreed to focus on writing a theory paper this semester rather then a research paper.  I’m still new to the field, and haven’t yet taken the IPT courses about research or statistics.  Instead of spending much of my time this semester ensconced in interpreting data, we decided I would be better served by starting to think about the theoretical framework for future research.

Thus this week, while other students are collecting research questions, I will look at some research articles but also at some theory articles.  I’ll blog just a bit here about two that Prof. Hannafin of UGA suggested (to Graham, not to myself!) were “good examples of persuasive,  well-framed argumentation based in research and theory.”  I will look at the way they construct their paper, since the construct of a research paper (intro, methodology, results, discussion & conclusion) doesn’t really apply.

Clark’s article is constructed much like a formal debate.  In his first paragraph he opens with some concession to (or at least explanation of) the other side (media comparison studies).  However, by his second paragraph he clearly states his position, which is that there is “consistent evidence … that there are no learning benefits to be gained from employing any specific medium to deliver instruction.” (445)  His second section reviews some of the primary media studies of the past two decades.  However, in the following section (“Reviews and Meta-analyses of Media Research”), Clark provides new data that any findings in support of media comparison are confounded by other factors such as the novelty effect, variance in instructional methods, or the attribution question.  He concludes his article with “tentative solutions” (446) and the directive that “[f]uture research should therefore focus on necessary characteristics of instructional methods and other variables (task, learner aptitude, and attributions), which are more fruitful sources for understanding achievement increases” (457).

According to Lloyd Rieber,“…[P]lay is a powerful mediator for learning throughout a person’s life.” (p. 43)  Rieber’s article reviews major misconceptions about play as well as its attributes and benefits.  He looks at theories behind play (Piaget, Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory) and the theoretical foundations of self-regulated learning within a microworld.   Rieber sees interactive multimedia such as simulations, games, and microworlds as learning environments that have attributes consistent with play.  Thus he strives to combine theory with research and practice.  His article is structured by making a controversial claim about play, backing it up with theory, and then suggesting ways in which those theories can be realized in practice.


Clark, Richard.  (1983).  Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media.  Review of Educational Research. (53:4).  pp. 445-459.

Rieber, Lloyd. ***


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