The question is: can this mixture work? And what are the epistemological tensions?
Design-based research: an introduction
“A systematic but flexible methodology
aimed to improve educational practices
through iterative analysis, design,
development, and implementation, based
on collaboration among researchers and
practitioners in real-world settings, and
leading to contextually-sensitive design
principles and theories.”
Wang & Hannafin, 2005, p. 6
“DBR involves the creation of a theoretically-inspired
innovation, usually a learning environment, to directly
address a local problem”.
But credible evidence for local gains is not sufficient. In
addition, the researcher needs to:
“…generate evidence-based claims about learning that
address contemporary theoretical issues and further the
theoretical knowledge of the field”
(Barab, 2008, p. 155)
Low Control High
Variables and context
Levels: individual, interpersonal, group, resource,
Types of dependent variables: climate, learning, and
Types of contextual variables: setting, nature of learners,
resources for implementation, professional development,
financial requirements, implementation path.
Time horizon and measurement points.
DV = f(IV1, IV2, …Ivk | CV1…m)
with f usually linear
Repeated Measurements Design
Not only a research process
The design artifact is essential:
it outlasts the study and can be adopted, adapted,
and re-used by others.To the extent that the design
artifact reifies a model of teaching/learning, that
model/theory gets tested (elsewhere) as well.
Process (models) as artifacts Teaching
Software as artifact “learning environments”
What kind of knowledge is
produced by DBR?
1. Designs for process and/or software.
2. Software (where applicable).
3. “Design narratives”:
How to allow others to re-contextualize (and perhaps
re-implement) a design with respect to local
Rich descriptions how designs are enacted.
4. Theoretical accounts: Propositional systems
reporting “rich models of interaction” .
How is a design study (proto-
Phase 1: Preparing the experiment
Clarifying the instructional goals
Documenting the instructional starting points
Delineating an envisioned learning trajectory
Placing the experiment in a theoretical
Phase 2: Experimenting to support learning
Collecting data in cycles of design and
Applying interpretive frameworks
Formulating and testing domain-specific
Phase 3: Conducting retrospective analyses
Explicating the argumentative grammar
Establishing trust in the findings
Delineating a learning trajectory
about significant shifts in students’ reasoning, and
the means for supporting and organising these shifts,
“Tangibles” such as instructional tasks, materials, ICTs,...
“Intangibles” such as classrooms norms and nature of classroom
Teacher as co-designer of the ‘means’ and part of them.
Basis for the conjectures:
Placing the experiment in a
The goal of DBR is to produce knowledge that will be
useful in providing guidance to others in their attempts to
support learning processes.
Hence, the specific experiment needs to be framed as a
paradigmatic instance of broader phenomena.
This framing is best done in terms of ‘mid-range’ theories
E.g., meta-representational competence (diSessa, 1992)
rather than ‘constructivism’.
Huge range of methods, ranging from mathematical and
computational modeling over statistical analysis to
content analysis and ethnomethdological or
Video analysis very prominent
Log file analysis very prominent in some quarters (CSCL)
Typically, mixed methods approach applied.
(Statistical) “Generalisations” often required by policy
DBR’s Argumentative Grammar
How are claims to knowledge justified? What form does
the warrant take?
Demarcation: Can the set of methods establish boundaries
between sound and unsound claims about learning and
Meaningfulness: Can the set of methods help to generate
The full research process
5 Field Study
Teacher-led design research
Required for long-term design research.
Required for continuous design improvements.
Develops capacity in teachers and in the
organisation “school” to not only ‘implement’, but
t0 generate (sustainable) innovations.
Researcher involvement, Hawthorne effect
Incremental contributions, comparison across studies
Data gathering and analysis
Capturing context and process
Managing and integrating various, often ‘rich’ data formats
Dissemination and scalability
Publishing design studies
Going beyond the case
Researcher “training” (including teacher “training”)
Kelly, A. E., Lesh, R.A., & Baek, J.Y. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of
design research methods in education. NewYork: Routledge.
Reimann, P. (2009).Time is precious:Variable- and event-
centered approaches to process analysis in CSCL research.
International Journal of Computer-supported Collaborative
Learning, 4, 239-257.
Suthers, D. D., Dwyer, N., Medina, R., &Vatrapu, R. (2007). A
framework for eclectic analysis of collaborative interaction. In C.
Chinn, G. Erkens & S. Puntambekar (Eds.), Minds, mind, and
society. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on
Computer-supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL 2007) (pp.
694-703). New Brunswick, NJ: International Society of the