Criticism of Communication Theory and Research

Subject: Education
Pages: 8
Words: 2267
Reading time:
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Study level: PhD

Bittman, Rutherford, Brown and Unsworth (2011) have explored various theories that underpin the research study that they conducted together. The researchers hypothesized that language acquisition and vocabulary development are guaranteed when digital technology are accessed at an appropriate age. In addition, the researchers pursued the thesis that the print media and the older electronic media are less crucial in the process of development than the new media.

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One of the key theories that the authors have used to underpin their research background is the digital native theory. To a large extent, the researchers have refuted the fact that there is a smooth transition from the old media to the new media. The older media and the digital media have no smooth continuity (Bittman et al., 2011). As much as this assertion may be true to some extent, it is also imperative to mention that the digital or new media has borrowed a lot form the old media and as such, some degree of continuity cannot miss. It is impossible to move back due to the myriads of changes that have been brought about by the digital media.

Therefore, the best approach that educationalists can take is to embrace and finally adopt the new media as a complete choice in the learning process. Bittman et al. (2011) have not explored or even provided options on how the new media can be used in place of the old media so as to teach children effective methods of acquiring vocabulary as well as language development. Nonetheless, the researchers have done a commendable work by correlating various factors that affect the acquisition of vocabulary and the overall child development.

The new media has displaced the old media in various respects. While this may be a reality, it is imperative to mention that there is a convergence of media forms rather than a radical discontinuity as proposed by the authors. It may not necessarily be the case in some jurisdictions where old media is still dominant as a way of imparting new skills to learners. For instance, educationalists in the third world countries are still utilizing old media in the formulation of educational programs especially when coming up with leaning curricula. Hence, the theory on digital natives should more or less be location specific.

Not all children in the modern generation are digitized in that sense. Even in countries where modern learning platforms are readily available, it is still interesting to mention that adequate structures have not been put in place to accommodate the new technology in totality.

The ‘multi-literacies’ and the ‘new ‘literacies’ explored by Bittman et al. (2011) have been transformed by educationalists together with the theory of new and convergent media. This is apparently one area of concern that has been thoroughly addressed by the researchers in this study. It is indeed factual that literacy can no longer be viewed from the perspective of a single entity. The definition provided in books defines literacy as the basic ability to read and write. Due to the rapid changes in the modern technology, the term ‘literacy’ can no longer be confined within the narrow definition. This is why the authors have conclusively pointed that multi-literacy is a reality with us which cannot be ignored in the era of new media.

In the case of the multi-literacy theory, it implies that there is a plurality of ‘literacies’ that can be discussed in the presence of the digital technology. This theory is definitely appropriate as one of the underpinning theories used to back this research study. When the use of technology is brought into a critical state of thinking, it assists in expounding digital literacy. Social participation is also part and parcel of digital literacy. In other words, economic, political and cultural involvement is vital in harnessing understanding, skills and knowledge acquired in digital literacy. These emerging concerns have been addressed in the research article through the research questions that will be pointed out shortly.

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The manner in which language is affected by both the modern and past media technologies is the key concern of this article. The level of ability of children in school, the ability to read and write well, and overall capability to gain various skills in language are some of the research areas that are yet to be given adequate study. However, a lot has been covered on the page media and voluminous literature in regards to language acquisition among children at an early age. Both physical reading platforms and the use of television have been extensively covered in most of the past research studies Is there any relationship between academic achievement and the time spent by learners in reading?

Independent and dependent variables

There are quite a number of mediating variables such as age of a child, the nature of the content used by a child, the socio-economic status of a child under question, and parental education or involvement in the learning process. When cognitively valuable activities are displaced by television at the infancy stage, it is highly likely that the cognitive development of a child will be negatively impacted. Extensive watching of television has also been associated with disruptive tendencies because children can hardly concentrate during the learning process. Parental mediation is minimized when children are overtaken by watching television.

According to the authors, basic exposure to television among children has little learning benefits compared to the case whereby parents are keenly involved either as co-viewers or guides to their children. Vocabulary acquisition is a more delicate learning affair during the tender ages of about zero to four years. Nonetheless, a quantitative study that is recent enough is required in order to measure both independent and dependent variables that might have changed.

This need has been brought out by both the content and context given to children to watch on television during such ages are fundamental in shaping vocabulary acquisition by children. The authors are not quite emphatic whether parental characteristics determine the level and ability of vocabulary acquisition among children at the childhood or even infancy stage. Important independent variables include media use, learners and digital literacy. Dependent variables include time-use data, language acquisition and literacy skills.

The results obtained by the researchers reveal that the old media should be given extra attention when teaching children vocabulary acquisition. From the findings, the new digital media should be used merely as supplementary materials and no attempt should be made to replace the old media. Reading materials that are text-based should be employed in the teaching process while in their print forms rather than the digitized forms. In terms of learning acquisition, there seems to be no learning advantages for children aged between 4 and 8 years when it comes to watching television. However, if a curriculum can be developed based on specific television programs that are educative in nature, there is no doubt that even children above the infancy stage can still benefit from the digitized materials.

The analyzed statistical data obtained by the researchers have not made use of empirical data from recent research study. Needless to say, clarification is still needed in expounding the claim that the new era media has displaced the old media in various ways. It is imperative to note that there are quite a number of factors that may influence the ability of a child to acquire vocabulary and even develop in a holistic manner. For instance, computer use by parents may draw children closer to the habit of reading and in the long run, acquire the necessary skills in language.


The longitudinal study is the methodology used to determine the verbal abilities that can be promoted when parents co-view television with their children according to the learning theory of scaffolding. This methodology was appropriate as per the research questions used above.

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Sample size

The sample size used was made up of two different cohorts (the 2003 and 1999 cohorts). Children between the ages of 0 and 9 were used in the sample. However, instructional scaffolding has not been discussed as much as it may be crucial when exploring the aspect of technologically-based learning in this new information era.

In the second research study by Hsu et al. (2012), the authors offer content analysis of research works that were conducted under the theme of technology-based learning. From the analyses of the various research studies, the authors found out that the research topic deemed to be most popular was pedagogical design and theories.


Research design is one of the most important aspects that can assist researchers when exploring the subject of learning using the modern forms of technology. This is the research hypothesis that has been adopted by the researchers in this article. Before exploring the suitability of this hypothesis, it is perhaps necessary to have a look at least three research questions that were adopted in the study.

Research questions

Technology-based learning and the related research topics is the first research question adopted in this study. The trends witnessed in terms of the topic variations in each succeeding year have also been explored by the researchers as part of the research question.

Secondly, the effects of technology-based learning on the research sample groups have been queried alongside published articles. The link between adopting a learning domain and the given research topic is also another research question that the authors have used to prove the hypothesis.

In retrospect, it is evident that these research questions are in tandem with the hypothesis although such questions are broad and may require detailed analysis so that the audience a clear glimpse of the topic under discussion.

The authors have included a concise introduction that provides a road map for the research study. The introduction covers a brief background of the research study, the research questions, and an analysis of the research trends in TBL. The aforementioned sections have included both the theory and literature review parts. The introductory part provides a clear picture of both the content and context of the research topic and hypothesis.

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In the methodology section, the researchers used published articles in developing the research article as well as answering research questions. For a period of nine consecutive years, close to 4000 document items were used by the research in order to obtain an independent analysis of each published article. This data was uses as the sample size of the study. In order to test the suitability or appropriateness of the hypothesis, the researchers used more than one method of data collection and analysis. Nonetheless, the trends from the year 2000 up to 2009 did not yield a particular pattern that could be depended upon fully. Hence, we expect the data margin to be a bit high owing to the methodology used in the survey and analyses.

The style used by the authors in the research article in presenting the study is quite appealing. Nonetheless, there are some sections of the article that are quite cumbersome to follow due to several long citations included in the body of the text. The language style and mode of presentation can be easily followed or understood by any ordinary reader.


In terms of theoretical development and backing of the research study, only a single theory has been used to underpin the facts presented in the article. Although the pedagogical design theory is appropriate as per the hypothesis and research questions used in the study, it is still not adequate in convincing the audience whether the findings have been supported in other studies. This theory also tends to limit the discussion presented in the article because it has been explored with strong inclination towards the use of technology in teaching. It is imperative to mention that the cognitive engagement of learners may not necessarily be attained through the technologically-based learning.

In the absence of adequate theories to support the study, the authors could have employed other TBL related journals and suitably selected conference proceedings on this subject area so that the analysis is done on a three dimensional perspective without being skewed. As a suggestion to this research study, a more deliberate analysis would have been carried out through adequate use of either empirical data from the field or using more updated sources. In other words, an updated research data and current information should have been employed in the methodology of this research study. As it stands now, it may not be possible to predict the situation in regards to the modern needs of research development when it comes technologically-based learning.

Dependent and independent variables

The dependent variables in this research study include technology, curriculum development, content analysis and research trends. On the other hand, the independent variables include learners, teachers, selected journals and the learning domains. Although these variables have not been explicitly brought out in the research study, they are nonetheless useful in developing the hypothesis adopted in the study and are also fundamental in the process of answering the research questions.

Instead of using a single cohort of sample in the study, the researchers employed two different cohorts in the sampling process. The adults, teachers, higher education, senior high school, junior school as well as the elementary were the main categories used in the sampling process. The two other categories included in the sampling process included ‘Not specified’ and ‘Others’. Although this sample stretch is suitable enough, the two other categories without specifications are highly likely to expand the error margin especially if higher values are assigned to them. Hence, the indefinite categories can be done away with in this study so as to minimize the error margin.


Bittman, M., Rutherford, L., Brown, J. & Unsworth, L. (2011). Digital natives? New and old media and children’s outcomes. Australian Journal of Education, 55(2), 161– 175.

Hsu, Y., Ho, H.N., Tsai, C., Hwang, G., Chu, H., Wang, C., Chen, N. (2012). Research Trends in Technology-based Learning from 2000 to 2009: A content Analysis of Publications in Selected Journals. Educational Technology & Society, 15 (2), 354–370.