Some examples of DBR
As mentioned in the previous section, although DBR has distinct characteristics in comparison to other research methodologies, there is no best model or set of procedures one should adopt while conducting DBR. Hence, the best way to get started with DBR is to look at some examples of DBR done by others and the frameworks they used to conduct DBR so as to decide the most appropriate methods for your own DBR initiative.
Since DBR is based on the seminal works of Brown and Collins, the first and second examples given here are those illustrated by Brown and Campione (1994, 1996; Brown 1992) and Collins (1992) respectively. Other examples include models of DBR proposed and/or DBR implemented by Brenda (2003) and Cobb et al (2003) in a variety of subject areas and perspectives.
Focused on the challenge of getting students to engage in serious discourse and deep reflection about substantive ideas and concepts in science, mathematics, and other fields, Brown and Campione (as cited in Collins et al., 2004) developed a model known as Fostering a Community of Learners (FCL), that promotes diversity of interest and talents to enrich knowledge base of the classroom community, for grades 1 to 8. The initial focus of FCL was on the subject areas of biology and ecology and the overall structure involved getting students to carry out research in small groups where each student specializes in a particular subtopic, sharing what they learn with other groups and engaging in some consequential task.
Their work involved going from laboratory research to learning principles to the design of a learning environment. They would then amend the learning principles based on their analysis of the learning environments, which would led to further modifications of the learning environments and new laboratory experiments. Such a cycle was readily reflected in the three phases of FCL.
In phase one, Brown and Campione attempted to enrich studentsí» discussion via the design of FCL where there was an emphasis of students gaining deeper understanding by writing explanations for other students and sharing their knowledge with other students who had worked on other topics. In phase 2, Brown and Campione revised the design of FCL to put more emphasis on biological content by adding benchmark lessons and hands-on activities after many misconceptions were found in studentsí» work. In phase 3, Brown and Campione implemented a developmental corridor where students cycle through related topics over the years, albeit with increasing depth.
Another example given by Collins (1992) illustrates how a design experiment might be implemented. Focused on the problem that students were holding onto na?ve theories and not constructing robust mental models about scientific phenomena, a technology-based unit on the relative motion of earth and sun and the seasons was developed and refined over time. Collins proposed that a few technologies, such as a television series and computer programs, should be considered as potential solutions to the problem. The first step was to choose two teachers who were interested in trying out the technology to teach students about the seasons. Teachers and researchers collaborated to design their lessons on seasons using different technologies. In evaluating the results of the experiment, researchers studied a number of different aspects that included having teachers made notes of what they perceived to be working and not working and the changes teachers implemented to make the design better. The purpose of the study, according to Collins, was to partly generate a design theory to guide such implementation. The construction of such a theory would involve identifying all relevant variables in phase one and specify how different independent variables interact to affect different dependent variables in the second phase.
Integrative learning design (ILD) framework is a general model proposed by Bannan-Ritland (2003) for design research in education and is meant to provide a program-level perspective. The broad phases of ILD included (a) Informed Exploration, (b) Enactment, (c) Evaluation: Local Impact, and (d) Evaluation: Broader Impact. Using her work in the Literacy Access Online (LAO) project as an example, Brenda illustrated how the different phases of ILD were implemented. The Informed Exploration phase involves problem identification, literature survey and problem definition. The Enactment phase comprised of initial intervention design, prototype articulation and subsequent development of a more fully detailed intervention. The third phase involves the first stage of evaluation where local impact of the intervention, or the degree to which the designed intervention satisfy its clients, is evaluated. The final phase involves the second stage of evaluation where issues such as ecological validity and successful dissemination and adoption in broader context and to broader audience are considered.
Cobb et al. (as cited in Kelly, 2003) provides another approach to design research that focused on disciplinary subject matter, primarily mathematics and science, and studentsí» construction of enriched understanding of this subject matter. The approach described here has its roots in Russian teaching experiments, Piagetian psychology, and radical and social constructivism.
According to Cobb et al. (2003), there are three main phases in a design experiment, namely (a) Preparing for a Design Experiment, (b) Conducting a Design Experiment, and (c) Conducting Retrospective Analysis.
It is important for the researcher to first clarify its theoretical intent and specify the significant disciplinary ideas and forms of reasoning that constitute the prospective goals for student learning in the first phase of preparing for a design experiment. In addition, the research team also needs to specify its assumptions about intellectual and social starting points for the envisioned forms of learning. The challenge is then to formulate a design that embodies testable conjectures about significant shifts in student reasoning and the specific means of supporting those shifts once the conjectured starting points, the elements of trajectory and prospective endpoints have been stated.
In the phase of conducting a design experiment, there are at least four critical functions that require ongoing direct engagement in the research setting and the associated planning and interpretive activities. First, a clear view of the anticipated learning pathways and means of support must be maintained and communicated among team members. Secondly, there should be ongoing cultivation of relationships with practitioners. Thirdly, design researchers need to develop understanding of the ecology of learning. Last but not least, there should be regular debriefing sessions.
Diversity of expertise and backgrounds among members of the research team can be an important resource for developing alternative interpretations while conducting retrospective analysis. A central challenge, according to Cobb et al, is to work systematically through the data and it is, thus, important for clear criteria to be made while making inferences.
Bannan-Ritland, B. (2003). The role of design in research: The integrative learning design framework. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 21-24.
Brown, A., & Campione, J. (1994). Guided discovery in a community of learners. In K. McGilley (Ed.). Classroom lessons: Integrating cognitive theory and classroom practice (pp.229-270). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford Books.
Brown, A., & Campione, J. (1996). Pschological theory and the design of innovative learning environments: On procedures, principles, and systems. In L. Schauble & R. Glaser (Eds.). Innovations in learning: New environments for education (pp. 289-325). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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.
Kelly, A. E. (2003). Research as Design. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 3-4.
@ Peer Group 2006