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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Theory of interaction?

I've posted this to a couple of listserves and haven't received any response, so I figured I'd try here to see if anyone had an opinion to share...

I have a question about Moore (1989), which is the editorial where he describes the three types of interaction. My reading of this piece, and subsequent pieces that have built on it (i.e., Hillman, Willis, Gunawerdena, 1994 and Sutton, 2001), is that these types of interaction are intended as a descriptive piece and can best be described as a model. I believe this to be supported by pieces that I have seen which use it as part of their literature review or research methodology.

I would even speculate that this interaction model may be an extention of the dialogue piece of Moore's theory of transactional distance.

The reason I write this message to this group is to get opinions on what they would classify Moore (1989) as,
largely because I came across this a few weeks back (see http://www.elearning-reviews.org/topics/pedagogy/educational-principles/theory/1989-moore-three-types-interaction/ ) that
claims that this editorial is describing a theory of interaction (Moore's "seminal contribution to distance
education theory" if the author is to be believed).

Now I realize that e-learning reviews are just people like you and I reviewing other's work and that the original authors are not involved at all. However, this was the first time that I had seen these types of interaction classified as a theory and I wanted to see if others felt as Mr. Ramanau does.

So, what is Moore (1989)? Is it simply a description? A model? A theory? Or something else altogether?

To give you some context, as I have mentioned before I am currently engaged in writing my comprehensive examinations and the theory question that I have been asked is:

"The purpose of this question is for you to examine the role and influence of theory in distance education research.

In 2000, Randy Garrison questioned “whether distance education possesses the theoretical foundation and commitment to take it into the 21st century” (Garrison, 2000, p. 2). That same year, Farhad Saba observed that few researchers had conducted rigorous studies in distance education that were based on theoretical foundations of the field or theories of fields closely related to distance education (Saba, 2000). In his dissertation this past year, Nathan Lowell points out “the field [of distance education] remains one based on practice and not on theory” (Lowell, 2004, p. 1).

You have stated that the American Journal of Distance Education and the Journal of Distance Education are considered among the top scholarly journals in the distance education field. Therefore, review at least the last 10 years of each journal and summarize and critique the major theoretical perspectives that have emerged or have been discussed by researchers in support of the foundations of distance education. Track the frequency that theory is used to support the practice of distance education in these journals. Of the research that is theory-based, what are the dominant theories and how influential have these dominant theories actually been?

Your response should take the form of an article for a refereed publication such as the American Journal of Distance Education or the Journal of Distance Education. It should be around 12-15 pages in length (3,000 to 5,000 words) and should be able to be read by academics in the fields of distance education and instructional technology.


Garrison, R. (2000). Theoretical challenges for distance education in the 21st century: A shift from structural to transactional issues. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 1(1), 1-17. Retrieved on September 7, 2004 from http://www.irrodl.org/content/v1.1/randy.pdf

Lowell, N.O. (2004a). An investigation of factors contributing to perceived transactional distance in an online setting. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.

Saba, F. (2000). Research in distance education: A status report. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 1(1). Retrieved on October 10, 2004 from http://www.irrodl.org/content/v1.1/farhad.pdf"

Now I think that this a great question and I have enjoyed my first go through with both journals, but obviously if Moore (1989) is a theory - which I don't personal think it is - the results of this review will be drastically different.

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