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The Instrumental Value of Conceptual Frameworks in Educational Technology Research

Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 63, Number 1, ISSN 1042-1629


Scholars from diverse fields and research traditions agree that the conceptual framework is a critically important component of disciplined inquiry. Yet, there is a pronounced lack of shared understanding regarding the definition and functions of conceptual frameworks, which impedes our ability to design effective research and mentor novice researchers. This paper adopts John Dewey's instrumental view of theory to discuss the prevalent definitions of a conceptual framework, outline its key functions, dispel the popular misconceptions regarding conceptual frameworks, and suggest strategies for developing effective conceptual frameworks and communicating them to the consumers of research. Examples of hypothetical and existing empirical studies in the field of educational technology are used to illustrate the analysis. It is argued in this article that conceptual frameworks should be viewed as an instrument for organizing inquiry and creating a compelling theory-based and data-driven argument for the importance of the problem, rigor of the method, and implications for further development of theory and enhancement of practice.


Antonenko, P.D. (2015). The Instrumental Value of Conceptual Frameworks in Educational Technology Research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63(1), 53-71. Retrieved January 20, 2020 from .

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