Skip to main content

Educational technology program top-ranked for productivity

May 26, 2010

With only a few graduate faculty members, the educational technology program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College may be small but it is one of the most productive in the world. In the recently released 2010 edition of the Educational Media and Technology Yearbook, Arizona State University's educational technology graduate program is ranked second worldwide as measured by number of publications in the field’s top two journals.

The program was established at ASU in the late 1960s. It focuses on the design, development and evaluation of instructional systems and on educational technology applications to support learning. The program offers a master's of education degree and a doctorate of philosophy in educational technology, as well as two certificate programs.

ASU’s educational technology program has long been considered one of the top programs in the country, but this year’s Educational Media and Technology Yearbook for the first time ranked programs using objective data. The yearbook editors counted the number of publications in the field’s top two journals, Educational Technology Research and Development and the Journal of the Learning Sciences, in 2007 and 2008. ASU ranked second behind only Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for most publications.

The yearbook also ranked programs by the amount of grant and contract monies they had received in the 2008-09 academic year. ASU tied with six other schools for sixth place on that list, which includes programs in information and library science as well as learning, design and technology.

Also included in the yearbook are lists of the top schools by number of faculty and number of graduates. ASU was not ranked on those lists because of the small size of the program, which makes the high productivity ranking even more of an achievement.

“Our competitors – all of the other big universities that have educational technology programs – have nine to 12 faculty while we have less than half of that,” said James Klein, a professor in the program.

In a journal article published last year that counted total number of publications in Educational Technology Research and Development alone, ASU’s educational technology program garnered a No. 1 ranking. That study covered the 20-year period from 1998 to 2008.

As further evidence of ASU’s dominance in the field, a ranking of the top authors in ETR&D over the same 20-year period shows that four of the five top-ranked authors are affiliated with ASU. Klein is ranked third while emeritus professor Howard Sullivan is ranked second. The first- and fifth-ranked authors, as well as one of three authors who tied for sixth place, are graduates of ASU’s educational technology program.

“We established a strong research culture in our PhD program in educational technology at ASU," said Sullivan, who helped create the program after joining the ASU faculty in 1964, and retiring in 2007. "We emphasize experimental research and co-publication by doctoral students and faculty, most likely to a greater extent than any other educational technology program in the U.S.”

The alumni who ranked among the most-productive scholars all studied with Sullivan and credit him for much of their success.

“ASU is a really well-known program for mentoring doctoral students as researchers and preparing them to impact their field,” said the No. 1 ranked author, Michael Hannafin, a named eminent scholar at the University of Georgia. “In my own case, I worked with Howard Sullivan. He was one of those guys who really managed to groom a lot of people and really help a lot of people understand what it took to do the kind of work that he did.”

Robert Reiser, the fifth-ranked author in ETR&D over the past 20 years, also studied with Sullivan at ASU. He later mentored Klein when Klein was a student at Florida State University, where Reiser is a distinguished teaching professor.

“I was really fortunate that I went to Arizona State and that I studied with people like Howard,” said Reiser. “He really worked with me and with all the students to hone our research skills and particularly our ability to write.

“The tradition that Howard started not only continues with the students who have gone elsewhere but continues when new faculty came under his wing as colleagues there. Jim Klein is the perfect example of that. I’m not at all surprised by ASU’s placement in the rankings because the people there just are very productive.”

Written by Barby Grant