How do I get started with Design-Based Research (DBR)?
Since design-based research is relatively new in education and there are many variants and methods, it is not simple to describe step-by-step procedures for conducting design-based research. Thus, in this section, general considerations for implementing design-based research as a novice educational researcher are presented. Although these considerations are numbered sequentially below, the steps often occur simultaneously or sometimes in a different order.
Perhaps the most essential differentiating aspect of design-based research is its emphasis on addressing meaningful problems faced by teachers, learners, and others. Middle school boys show no desire to read; high school girls fail to enroll in advanced math and science courses; college students are unengaged in serious academic study; workers fail to transfer training to the workplace¡.the problems are endless, enduring, and complex. Design-based research requires an enormous long term effort by all involved and thus it should not be targeted on trivial problems.
To begin with, researchers need to be actively involved in a real world design project collaboratively with other participants such as instructional designers, curriculum developers, teachers and evaluators when conducting design research. Two distinguishing features of the process of design-based research are being grounded in real-world settings and working closely with other stakeholders in those settings.
Design-based research is a theory-oriented approach (Cobb, Confrey, deSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003) in that design-based researchers do not simply rely on intuition and creativity to make decisions about intervention design and iterative cycles of inquiry. Instead, the whole process of design research is guided by the most robust existing theory about teaching and learning. Design-based research enables theory to be challenged and tested in an authentic setting. The theory varies dependent upon the nature of the problem and at what level of practice the collaborators decide to focus their efforts: cognitive level, interpersonal level, group or classroom level, resource level, and institutional or school level (Collins, Joseph, & Bielaczyc, 2004). Through the process of design-based research from design to enactment, to analysis, and to redesign, researchers hope to reveal what works, what do not work, and how it works under certain conditions in a specific context. Ideally, the researchers will continuously modify designed interventions and apply them to another setting for generating design knowledge or principles grounded in broader contexts.
Like other research methodologies, design-based researchers conduct a critical literature review and needs analysis to identify problems or gaps, thereby generating research questions (Bannon-Ritland, 2003; Joseph, 2004).
To begin the process of solving the meaningful problem with which the design-based research initiative began, an educational intervention grounded in a robust theoretical framework is designed and placed in real-world contexts for testing. According to Joseph (2004), ¡°design researchers generally target questions central to the design of the intervention itself¡± (p. 236). That is, through the intervention, researchers are able to instantiate theoretical claims or hypotheses about learning and teaching and then test them in practice. Although it is rarely straightforward, the actual relationship among theories, designed interventions, and practice will be revealed during the process (Design-Based Research Collective [DBRC], 2003). Ideally, design-based research can narrow the gap identified by the needs analysis by redesigning the interventions and/or refining the theory-based design principles. Indeed, in design-based research, design is a key tool for modifying theories, principles, and also research questions (DBRC, 2003; Joseph, 2004). According to Joseph, design-based research addresses problems ¡°not through theory making or formal investigation, but through designing a solution¡± (p. 238).
Development of the design intervention is interactive with and responsive to iterative stages of formative evaluation and re-designs. From the initial design of educational intervention, a development team constructs and articulates a prototype, and develops a more elaborative intervention based on feedback given from evaluation of the intervention in practice (Bannon-Ritland, 2003). The iterative and responsive process may involve multiple design-test-revise cycles.
Design-based researchers gather data to reveal how well the intervention addresses the problems and how well the selective theories explain the learning process and outcomes. Evaluation of the design is formative in that the data may require the researchers to refine the initial design theories and, in turn, to develop a more detailed design intervention accordingly (Collins et al., 2004). Over time, the more fully developed intervention will be implemented in the same setting, other similar settings, and broader settings so that researchers can describe the interplay between design theories and multiple practices.
Through the successive refinement cycles, design-based research has a potential not only to construct more robust, applicable designs over time but also to generate well-supported design theories about learning and instruction (Collins et al., 2004), thereby resulting in deeper understanding of complex learning environments (Cobb et al., 2003). As mentioned by Cobb et al., multiple sources of data from observations, interviews, surveys and other documentations will result in ¡°rigorous, empirically grounded claims and assertions¡± (p. 12).
Finally, it is important to report design-based research in the forms of in-progress reports, a series of interim reports, journal articles, and books because it is likely to evolve over time (Collins et al., 2004; Reeves, Herrington, & Oliver, 2005). As noted by Reeves et al., these series of publications will help ¡°to encapsulate the findings of each iterative cycle or stage into a whole and substantial contribution to the educational community, in the form of frameworks or guidelines for others to apply¡± (p. 109). When reporting design research, researchers need to consider including (a) goals and elements of the design, (b) educational settings, (c) description of each phase, (d) outcomes or findings, and (e) lessons learned (Collins et al., 2004).
Bannan-Ritland, B. (2003). The role of design in research: The integrative learning design framework. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 21-24.
Brown, A. (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., deSessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9-13.
Collins, A. (1992). Toward a design science of education. In E. Scanlon & T. O’Shea (Eds.), New directions in educational technology (pp. 15-22). Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design research: Theoretical and methodological issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42.
Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8.
Joseph, D. (2004). The practice of design-based research: Uncovering the interplay between design, research, and the real-world context. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 235-242.
Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2005). Design research: A socially responsible approach to instructional technology research in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 16(2), 97-116.Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 5-23.
@ Peer Group 2006