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A Critical-Realist Response to the Postmodern Agenda in Instructional Design and Technology: A Way Forward

Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 59, Number 6, ISSN 1042-1629


Although providing an invigorating foundation for instructional design and technology theory and research, the postmodern agenda would benefit from clearer articulation and further refinement of ontological, epistemological, and methodological positions. Consequently, we reveal possible weaknesses in the radically constructivist-inspired position and, in the spirit of scholarly dialogue, counter with a critical-realist perspective that presents a potentially more innovative and defensible approach to the discovery of scientific knowledge about teaching and learning infused with technology. Without doubt, we concur with postmodernists that issues of agency, identity, race, gender and ethnicity must be addressed and given a central position in instructional design and technology research and practice. Under the critical-realist designator, case study, ethnographic, arts-based, and phenomenological methodologies are appropriate and can co-exist. Our point of distinction is that as a "scientific venture," instructional design and technology as a discipline must be more public and transparent in warrants, claims and discourse for proposed change to take place. We conclude by indicating future lines of inquiry inspired by the critical-realist perspective, detailing topics in technology integration and digital games.


Evans, M.A. (2011). A Critical-Realist Response to the Postmodern Agenda in Instructional Design and Technology: A Way Forward. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(6), 799-815. Retrieved July 22, 2019 from .

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