How does DBR differ from other approaches?
Design-based research does not replace the existing approaches (Wang & Hannafin, 2005, p. 6). Rather, it often incorporates other approaches for a different intention: theory generation and innovation to resolve educational problems. Below are descriptions of how various approaches differ from design-based research:
Allan Collins , one of the originators of the concept of design research, (Collins, 1999; Collins, Joseph & Bielaczyc, 2004) compared how design studies differ from laboratory experiments in the field of education. Design-based research deals with real world situations that contain limitations, complexities, and dynamics, while laboratory experiments are conducted in the laboratory without significant interruption from other variables. Multiple dependent variables exist in design-based research even though not all of the are investigated. However, laboratory experiments usually are focused on a single dependent variable. In addition, researchers try to control variables in laboratory experiments; thus, their procedures tend to be fixed. In contrast, researchers who conduct design-based research try to characterize a complex situation through iterative and flexible revisions of the research design. Also, design-based research involves social interaction s because it is conducted in the real world context while laboratory experiments attempt to prevent participants from interacting with the outside world and isolate them. Most experimental research studies test hypotheses, but design-based research investigates educational problems by developing design profiles in practice. Finally, in experimental research, the researchers are decision makers throughout the entire research process. In contrast, design-based research requires collaboration among participants who all have different expertise so their expertise impacts the different kinds of decisions in the different phases of the research process.
Edleson (2002) proposed four features that distinguish design research from design, and summarized their benefits for generating valuable research results. First, design-based research is ¡°research driven,¡± (p.116) which means that it should start from the prior research, have clear research goals, produce empirical results, and be theory¨Cbased. Second, design-based research systematically documents the design process. The comprehensive and cumulative documentation throughout design-based research helps data analysis, especially retrospective analysis. In addition, the documentation creates a ¡°design case, a rich description of a problem analysis, solution, and design procedure for a particular design experience¡± (p. 117). Third, ¡°formative evaluation¡± (p. 117) is an essential part of design-based research. It identifies gaps between the current design and the ideal design goals; as a result, researchers and designers can revise their design to meet their goals based on the findings from formative evaluation. Fourth, the ultimate goal of research is ¡°generalization¡± (p. 117) of the current design in the current context to other applicable contexts. The extensive documentation generated during the research process is intended to enhance the applicability of the current case.
Design-based research resembles action research in that it identifies real world problems accompanied by subsequent actions to improve the status quo. In addition, practitioners such as teachers are highly involved in the research process. However, design-based research is distinct from action research in two respects: its major goal and the roles of researchers and teachers in the research process (Reeves, Herrington, & Oliver 2005; Wang & Hannafin, 2005). First, generating theory to solve authentic problems is one of the major goals in design-based research. Second, regarding the roles of the participants, in design-based research, researchers usually take the initiative in the research process as both researchers and designers (Wang & Hannafin, 2005). In action research, however, it is usually the practitioners who initiate the research and then the researchers who come to help facilitate the research process.
The iterative and formative nature of design-based research often leads to confusion between design-based research and formative evaluation. Design-based research requires iterative refinement of design and theory, which leads to the adoption of formative evaluation as one of the major methods (Van den Akker, 1999). However, formative evaluation in itself does not entail theory generation as its goal; rather, the goal of formative evaluation is to improve the practice of design. Because of the distinct goals in these two approaches, design-based research is more often categorized as a ¡°research paradigm¡± rather than an ¡°evaluation method¡± (Barab & Squire, 2004; Wang & Hannafin, 2005).
Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14
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.
Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design Research: What we learn when we engage in design. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 105-121.
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.
Reigeluth, C. M., & Frick, F. W. (1999). Formative research: A methodology for creating and improving design theories. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (Vol. II, pp. 633-651). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Van den Akker, J. (1999). Principles and methods of development research. In J. can den Akker, N. Nieveen, R. M. Branch, K. L. Gustafson & T. Plomp (Eds.), Design methodology and developmental research in education and training (pp. 1-14). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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