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A caution about causation

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Australasian Journal of Educational Technology Volume 34, Number 5, ISSN 0814-673X Publisher: Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education


Educational technology research, like all education research, is dominated by explicit or implicit claims of causation. The dominance of cause-effect models in research is not surprising, and for many it is unnoticed and unquestioned. However, regardless of the cause-effect model being applied or the methodology in measuring it, we are unable to detect cause-effect directly. It is in this context that we need to be cautious in our interpretations of educational technology interventions and their implications for the future. Claims of causation are unlikely to decrease in the face of the increasing calls for “evidence-based” policy and practice. With this in mind it is even more important to consider how we can resist deterministic or mechanical claims of cause and effect. This dilemma should not stop our drive for evidence based approaches, but it is a reminder that we need to take care in the rigour of our research, and equally, in the way we describe it.


Henderson, M., Redmond, P. & Heinrich, E. (2018). A caution about causation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(5),. Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. Retrieved January 23, 2020 from .