What is Research? Who am I?

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session Research

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

Instructional designers and academic support staff serve a critical role in the design of learning experiences, and are uniquely positioned to perform human-centered research and identify processes and trends that can inform and guide faculty, students, and administrators alike. This session explores the learning designer as researcher, shares methods and frameworks that can guide this work, and facilitates a conversation about what research is and can be within the context of academic support staff.


Dr. Jessica Knott is Assistant Vice President of Community Strategy, Experience, and Management. In this role, Jessica manages outreach activities and strategies, including environmental scanning, experience design, communications and planning, based on a deep understanding of our community and member interests. Prior to the OLC, Jessica led a team that supported faculty and academic staff in creating quality, caring and exemplary digital experiences at Michigan State University.

Extended Abstract

Instructional designers, I have something to say. If research interests you? You should do it. And furthermore? You probably already are. You belong, and this session will provide you with the toolkit you need to help you see it if you don't already. 

Academic support staff deserves a seat at the research table for digital learning, despite reporting they are frequently left feeling that they do not belong (Kumar & Ritzhaupt, 2017). When conversation is seen through the lens of inquiry as reflected by Campbell, Schwier & Kenny (2004), Pangaro (2008) and others, instructional designers and academic support staff are perfectly positioned as data collection agents in that they find themselves in regular collaborative contact with faculty, staff, students, administrators and more on a near daily basis. Further, instructional designers and academic support staff experience the learning design process across a number of continuums ranging from deploying quality assurance frameworks to designing blueprints, to building courses to troubleshooting technology, to advising on pedagogy, theoretical lenses, and other duties as assigned.

In this session, we will have a facilitated conversation about:

  • The role learning designers and academic support staff can play in research initiatives, as well as roadblocks that keep them from engaging in that work
  • How the data collected every day as a part of standard, practice-driven instructional design activities can inform a measurable, research-based instructional design process 
  • Perceptions of identity and who belongs at the research table
  • Brainstorming solutions for instructional designers who struggle to tell their research stories, either to their institutions or to their faculty partners as a means of increasing collaboration

By the end of this session, participants will have:

  • Gained general knowledge of the instructional design research landscape
  • Have discussed roles, challenges, and shared experiences in using research practices (or wishing to) to inform instructional design work
  • Assessed the challenges and shared experiences of their colleagues and shared potential solutions to these challenges
  • Selected some methods and paths that will take them into their next adventures in inquiry

Research is fun, useful, and critical to our understanding of the world around us. It is also inherent in what we do. Come learn, share, and build together!


Campbell, K., Schwier, R. A., & Kenny, R. (2006). Conversation as inquiry: A conversation with instructional designers. Journal of Learning Design1(3), 1-18.

Jaschik, S., & Lederman, D. (2017). 2017 survey of faculty attitudes on technology: A study by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/booklet/2017-survey-faculty-attitudes-technology

Jaschik, S., & Lederman, D. (2019). 2019 survey of faculty attitudes on technology: A study by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/system/files/media/IHE_2019_Faculty_Tech_...

Kumar, S., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2017). What do instructional designers in higher education really do? International Journal on E-Learning, 16(4), 371–393.

Pangaro, P. (2008). Instructions for design and designs for conversation. In Handbook of conversation design for instructional applications (pp. 35-48). IGI Global.