University of Cambridge

DESIGN – BASED RESEARCH

Prof. Mrs. Geeta Kamble and Narendra Sidhaye

Abstract:

Researches in educational settings have historically been driven by two broad goals

1.    Understanding how people learn, particularly within school settings and

2.    Designing ways to better ensure that learning will happen in these settings.

Educational researchers, policymakers and practitioners agree that educational research is often divorced from the problems and issues of everyday practice. Understanding how technology can best support student learning in diverse classroom settings remains a crucial line of educational research.

What is an alternative model for conducting education research that addresses the complex nature of learning in classrooms, extends fundamental research in cognition, fosters a broad systemic understanding to transform a variety of environments as well as provides valid examples of successful educational reforms?

Thus, Design Based Research is an emerging paradigm for the study of learning in context through the systematic design and study of instructional strategies and tools. DBR can help create and extend knowledge about developing, enacting and sustaining innovative learning environments.

Design experimentation is an inter-disciplinary approach that acknowledges the fundamentally applied nature of educational research. Within this approach, researchers working in partnership with educators seek to refine theories of learning by designing, studying, and refining rich, theory-based innovations in realistic classroom environments. One of the popular approaches in Design Experimentation is The Design Principles Approach’. It stems from the design experiments research trajectory, initiated in the early nineties by Brown (1992). These experiments were the ancestor of the DBR methodology. During same period, Collins (1992) called researchers to refer to education as a DESIGN SCIENCE. He based this notion on Simon’s (1969) famous book, which identifies various professions, such as architecture, engineering, computer science, medicine and education with the sciences of the artificial.

The Design Principles DATABASE

Based on this approach, the DPD (Kali & Linn) was developed to capture, coalesce and synthesize design knowledge. The DPD is a mechanism to support researchers and curriculum designers to share their design knowledge in the form of design-principles, exemplified by descriptions of features from learning environments. The database is an infrastructure for participants to publish, connect, discuss and review design ideas, as well as use these ideas to design new curricula. The current entries in the Design Principles Database represent the contributions of over sixty individual researchers. The database includes about one hundred features (mainly from physical, life and earth sciences) connected with several dozen design-principles.

How does the DPD work?

The DPD is a set of interconnected features and principles. Each feature is linked with a principle and principles are linked between themselves in a hierarchical manner. Principles in the database are described in three levels of generalization. Specific Principles are those that connect directly to a single feature or single research investigation and provide the specific rationale behind the design of that feature. Pragmatic Principles connect several Specific Principles and Meta-Principles capture abstract ideas represented in a cluster of Pragmatic Principles

Conclusion

Design – Based research methods can compose a coherent methodology that bridges theoretical research and educational practice. Viewing both design of an intervention

and its specific enactments as objects of research can produce robust explanations of innovative practice and provide principles that can be localized for others to apply to new settings. DBR, by grounding itself in the needs, constraints and interactions of local practice, can provide a lens for understanding how theoretical claims about teaching and learning can be transformed into effective learning in educational settings.

Full Paper

Introduction

Researches in educational settings have historically been driven by two broad goals

  1. 1.    Understanding how people learn, particularly within school settings and
  2. 2.    Designing ways to better ensure that learning will happen in these settings.

Pursuing these goals in parallel poses significant challenges. However, such work can yield significant rewards, as learning settings can be rapidly refined in response to ongoing research.

Educational researchers, policymakers and practitioners agree that educational research is often divorced from the problems and issues of everyday practice – a split that creates a need for new research approaches that speak directly to problems of practice (National Research Council [NRC], 2002) and that lead to the development of “usable knowledge” (Lagemann, 2002).

Understanding how technology can best support student learning in diverse classroom settings remains a crucial line of educational research. For decades, computer technology has been developing at a rapid pace and this pattern of development is unlikely to change in the future. Also, research on institutional aspects of educational reform, cognitive aspects of student learning, and the design of technology – enhanced instruction have historically occurred as separate endeavors. At best, the level of exchange among these research communities is trading monographs, methodologies or isolated pieces of technology. A principal difficulty with bridging these communities lies in the different criteria for what constitutes educational success using learning technologies. The questions and methods one community considers valid may be considered tangential, inappropriate or inconsequential by another community.

What is an alternative model for conducting education research that addresses the complex nature of learning in classrooms, extends fundamental research in cognition, fosters a broad systemic understanding to transform a variety of environments as well as provides valid examples of successful educational reforms?

Design Based Research (DBR)

Design Based Researchin education is probably very old, but recent interest can be traced back to the early nineties, e.g. Brown and Collins (1992).

According to Collins, design research was developed to address several issues central to the study of learning, including the following

   1. The need to address theoretical questions about the nature of learning in context. 2. The need for approaches to the study of learning phenomena in the real world rather than the laboratory.

   3. The need to go beyond narrow measures of learning.

   4. The need to derive research findings from formative evaluation

 According to the Design-Based Research Collective (2003)

  1. The central goals of designing learning environments and developing theories or proto theories of learning are intertwined.
  2. Development and research take place through continuous cycles of design, enactment, analysis, and redesign.
  3. Research on designs must lead to sharable theories that help communicate relevant implications to practitioners and other educational designers.
  4. Research must account for how designs function in authentic settings. It must not only document success or failure but also focus on interactions that refine our understanding of the learning issues involved.
  5. The development of such accounts relies on methods that can document and connect processes of enactment to outcomes of interest.

Thus, Design Based Research is an emerging paradigm for the study of learning in context through the systematic design and study of instructional strategies and tools. DBR can help create and extend knowledge about developing, enacting and sustaining innovative learning environments.

Reeves draws a clear line between research conducted with traditional empirical goals and that inspired by development goals leading to DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Design Experimentation

Design experimentation is an inter-disciplinary approach that acknowledges the fundamentally applied nature of educational research. Within this approach, researchers working in partnership with educators seek to refine theories of learning by designing, studying, and refining rich, theory-based innovations in realistic classroom environments.

Design experimentation reflects a range of practices and methodologies that are drawn from a variety of disciplines. However, the broad array of methods, claims, theoretical stances and intellectual traditions makes it extremely difficult to articulate exactly what design experimentation is and how it can advance as a coherent field of study.

If design experimentation is to develop into a viable, robust field, its practitioners must come to agreement about the nature and scope of design experimentation and develop shared practices and methods that allow us to build on each others’ research, to share results and outcomes in ways that contribute to theory and practice and (ultimately) to make a significant contribution to how people learn in a range of contexts.

Reeves (2008), Ann Brown and Alan Collins (1992) defined critical characteristics of design experiments as

   1. Addressing complex problems in real contexts in collaboration with practitioners,

   2. Integrating known and hypothetical Design Principles with technological affordances to render plausible solutions to these complex problems and

   3. Conducting rigorous and reflective inquiry to test and refine innovative learning environments as well as to define new Design Principles.

Design Experiments,

  1. Address learning programs involving important subject matter,
  2. Are usually mediated by innovative technology,
  3. Are embedded in everyday social contexts which are often classrooms,
  4. Can serve as models for broader reform and
  5. Contribute simultaneously to fundamental scientific understanding of learning and education.

One of the popular approaches in Design Experimentation is The Design Principles Approach’

It stems from the design experiments research trajectory, initiated in the early nineties by Brown (1992). These experiments were the ancestor of the DBR methodology. During same period, Collins (1992) called researchers to refer to education as a DESIGN SCIENCE. He based this notion on Simon’s (1969) famous book, which identifies various professions, such as architecture, engineering, computer science, medicine and education with the sciences of the artificial.

It uses ‘Design Principles’ as an organizational unit for synthesizing design knowledge. The DP is an intermediate step between scientific findings, which must be generalized and replicable and local experiences or examples that come up in practice. Because of the need to interpret design-principles, they are not as readily falsifiable as scientific laws. The principles are generated inductively from prior examples of success and are subject to refinement over time as others try to adapt them to their own experiences.

The Design Principles DATABASE

Based on this approach, the DPD (Kali & Linn) was developed to capture, coalesce and synthesize design knowledge. The DPD is a mechanism to support researchers and curriculum designers to share their design knowledge in the form of design-principles, exemplified by descriptions of features from learning environments. The database is an infrastructure for participants to publish, connect, discuss and review design ideas, as well as use these ideas to design new curricula. The current entries in the Design Principles Database represent the contributions of over sixty individual researchers. The database includes about one hundred features (mainly from physical, life and earth sciences) connected with several dozen design-principles.

How does the DPD work?

The DPD is a set of interconnected features and principles. Each feature is linked with a principle and principles are linked between themselves in a hierarchical manner. Principles in the database are described in three levels of generalization.

Specific Principles are those that connect directly to a single feature or single research investigation and provide the specific rationale behind the design of that feature.

Pragmatic Principles connect several Specific Principles and

Meta-Principles capture abstract ideas represented in a cluster of Pragmatic Principles

References

Barab, S. A., & Kirshner, D. (Eds.) (2001) Special issue: Rethinking methodology in the learning sciences. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(1&2), 1-222.

Barab, S. A., & Squire, K. (Eds.). (2004). Design-based research. [Special Issue] Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1).

Bell, P. (2004). On the theoretical breadth of design-based research in education. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 243-253.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141-178.

Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher,

Collins, A. (1992). Towards a design science of education. In E. Scanlon & T. O’Shea (Eds.), New directions in educational technology (pp. 15-22). Berlin: Springer.

Design-Based Research Collective (2003) Design-Based Research: An Emerging Paradigm for Educational Inquiry. Educational Researcher, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 5

diSessa, A. A. (1991). Local sciences: Viewing the design of human-computer systems as cognitive science. In J. M. Carroll (Ed.), Designing Interaction: Psychology at the Human-Computer Interface. NY: Cambridge University Press, 162-202.

Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design research: what we learn when we engage in design. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 105-121.

Enyedy, N. (2005). Inventing mapping: creating cultural forms to solve collective problems. Cognition and Instruction, 23(4), 427-466. (this is an example study).

Kali Y. and Orion N., (1996). Spatial abilities of high-school students in the perception of geological structures. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v.33, pp.369-391.

Kelly, A. E. (Ed.). (2003). Theme issue: the role of design in educational research. [Special Issue] Educational Researcher, 32(1).

Lehrer, R., & Romberg, T. (1996). Exploring children’s data modeling. Cognition & Instruction, 14(1), 69-108. (example study)

Lesh, R. A., & Kelly, A. E. (2000). Multitiered teaching experiments. In A. E. Kelly & R. A. Lesh (Eds.), Handbook of research design in mathematics and science education (pp. 197-230). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reeves, Thomas C. (2000). Enhancing the Worth of Instructional Technology Research through Design Experiments and Other Development Research Strategies, Paper presented on April 27, 2000 at Session 41.29, International Perspectives on Instructional Technology Research for the 21st Century, a Symposium sponsored by SIG/Instructional Technology at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, USA. PDF.

Reiser, B. J., Tabak, I., Sandoval, W. A., Smith, B. K., Steinmuller, F., & Leone, A. J. (2001). BGuILE: Strategic and conceptual scaffolds for scientific inquiry in biology classrooms. In S. M. Carver & D. Klahr (Eds.), Cognition and instruction: Twenty-five years of progress (pp. 263-305). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. (example study).

Sandoval, W. A., & Bell, P. (Eds.). (2004). Design-based research methods for studying learning in context. [Special Issue] Educational Psychologist, 39(4).

Zitter, Ilya (2006), Design of competency-based, ICT-supported learning environments in higher education: The role of artefacts, ICO Toogdag research meeting

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