Research Spotlight: Albert Ritzhaupt

Q & A with Albert Ritzhaupt, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

While my research interests are varied, my core research agenda attempts to answer two general research questions: (1) How do you design, develop, and evaluate technology-enhanced learning environments? and (2) What factors influence technology integration into formal educational settings?

These two research questions have led me down a path to study a wide variety of technology-enhanced learning environments, ranging from multimedia learning environments to game-based learning environments. Further, I have studied factors that both facilitate and hinder technology integration in educational environments, such as the digital divide, leadership, and community engagement.

I use a wide variety of research methods to answer my research questions. I employ traditional experimental design research methods for testing many of my instructional designs and innovations in technology-enhanced learning environments. Additionally, I use classical and modern test theory to establish measurement systems to inform my research and the research of others, using procedures such as exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and more. I have employed literature synthesis and meta-analysis procedures to synthesize across primary studies. I have also used more complex procedures for analyzing larger data sets, including multi-level modeling and structural equation modeling techniques. Although I was never trained to use qualitative measures, over the years, I have added some qualitative techniques to my toolbox, such as the constant comparative method or phenomenology to answer different types of research questions.

What makes your work interesting?

I cannot answer this question for everyone else (you would have to ask others), but I can tell you what makes me passionate about my work. I have seen information and communication technology (ICT) open doors for students, teachers, instructional designers, trainers, and many others. ICT has given us the potential to do things we would not be able to accomplish otherwise, such as visualization, economy of scale, sharing of resources, and more. In all of my research, I try to provide the readers with a theoretical or conceptual framework to understand the empirical aspects of my work.

What are you currently working on?

Like most of us, I have TOO MANY projects going on right now to write about them all. However, I will note two projects that I am presently excited about. The first project is a meta-analysis of the flipped classroom empirical literature. Many educators are moving to a flipped classroom model where homework is done in class via collaborative problem-solving activities (active learning), and lecture is moved to the online space typically as video capture. We have already presented this research to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). We are presently working on the manuscript, which we hope to submit to the Review of Educational Research journal.

The second project is a NIH grant funded project where I am a co-Principal Investigator with some excellent researchers in medicine at UF and at UC Denver. The purpose of the grant is first to design and develop a short course focused on estimating power and sample size for longitudinal multi-level model designs. Sample size is an important issue in that if you overestimate, you potentially expose more people to risk than necessary. Conversely, if you underestimate, you may not reach your scientific goals and objectives. We will create a workshop to teach researchers about these ideas, and then create a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for dissemination on a wider scale.