Kent L. Gustafson
Professor and Chair,
Department of Instructional Technology

The University of Georgia

What is your highest degree?
Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1969.

What area of research interests you currently? How did you come to be interested in that topic?
Performance Support Systems. They appear to have much potential for enhancing worker performance. They also may have significant implications for learners in other settings.

You recently served one year as President of AECT, did that position give you any insight into the types of students going into the IT field?
I think the quality of graduate students is much higher than in the past. The field is attracting many very able and dedicated students. We for example have continued to raise our admission requirements at UGA and are now turning away many individuals we might have admitted in the past. The number of new graduate programs in the field is also impressive, however it remains to be seen if all will be able to obtain the resources needed to be in a position to offer quality programs.

Do you have any advice for graduate students or others in the field who are just beginning to do research?
DO NOT get caught in the quantitative/qualitative mindless debate. First identify a question in which you have continuing interest and then decide how to study it. I would add that this will often mean using a variety of data collection and analysis methods. Although this approach may make you suspect among the methodology fanatics in our midst, your research will bemuch the better for it.

Is there one research project that you remember as being the most fun or interesting?
Many years ago we did a several million dollar project involving designing and producing a training package for teachers on the instructional design process. Four of the top IT programs in the country did this as a joint project and I had the good fortune to be the project manager. This program, known as the Instructional Development Institute, was taken by over 20,000 teachers. The ability to combine research, design and development, production, implementation, and follow-up was one of the highlights of my professional career.

What are a couple of books you have written that you feel are especially well done or interesting?
The ERIC monograph Survey of Instructional Development Models (that was reprinted 10 years after the original volume) represents some of my best thinking on this topic. The book Instructional Design that was originally prepared by Les Briggs and later updated by Murray Tillman and myself represents another important contribution to the field.

In that ERIC Monograph, you wrote "It can only be hoped that in the future some ID models will be subjected to rigorous scientific validation." To your knowledge have any ID models been rigorously validated? Is this an area of research that might be useful to the field?
Although it would be useful, it is unlikely to be done due to the size and complexity of the environment in which overall models would need to be tested. Major resources would be required that in the present political and economic environment seems unlikely. Testing of parts of the model is both desirable and feasible however.

What are a few books by other people that you feel are "must reads" for people beginning a career in IT Research?
Saettler's History of Instructional Technology, Gagne's Instructional Technology: Foundations, and AECT's Definitions and Domains publication.

Do you see!any particular topics as being important research areas in the next five to 10 years?
Lots! Here are a few:
1. PerformanceSupport (what else can I say!)
2. Simulations of all sorts including virtual reality
3. Distance education
4. Change/reform process
5. Technology as mind tools