Design-based research chain of inquiry

The "Design-based reserach chain of inquiry" is a section in a paper that will be published in the AACE eLearning conference proceedings. For the full paper, please see:

Hogue, R.J. (2013). Epistemological Foundations of Educational Design Research. AACE eLearn 2013 – World Conference on e-Learning. Las Vegas, NV, USA.

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It seems that the theme this week in the virtual edu world is design. Change MOOC (#change11) is talking about how teaching is changing into a design science, and the topic for tonight's #lrnchat is design thinking.

Design is near and dear to my heart. My last career (before I went back to school) was as an instructional design. I spend 10 years studying and practicing instructional design. Instructional design is all about designing learning interactions – either to support a classroom teacher or to support electronic learning. As an instructional designer, I appreciate the link between teaching and design science. I embody that link when I do my work.

When I began my investigations in research, I was immediately attracted to the idea of design-based research (DBR). It is an approach to research that has the potential to directly influence instructional design practice. What I struggled to understand was "what exactly made DBR research?", that is, "how was DBR different from the practice of instructional design?"

After several months of reading, pretty much anything I could find relating to DBR in education, and a little bit about design sciences outside of education, I've finally made the connection. In my mind, I connected the different aspects of inquiry, into what I call the DBR chain of inquiry. This concept helped me to understand what was "research" in DBR. Below is an excerpt from my paper that describes the DBR chain of inquiry. I hope you enjoy it.

DBR Chain of Inquiry

DBR scholars often focus on the specific processes of conducting research, and fail to describe how the processes of DBR are related to inquiry.  Based upon a synthesis of the literature, I visualize the stages of inquiry in DBR as a linked chain, with each link providing information to the next. All links must be sufficiently strong to ensure sound research. In the figure above, I illustrate my DBR chain of inquiry with four links: (1) ground: the researcher must ground the design in theory; (2) enact: the researcher must implement the design in a real-world context; (3) evaluate: the researcher must assess and judge the enacted design; and finally (4) reflect: the researcher must retrospectively analyze the research project at its end. In the next sections, I describe each of the links in the DBR chain of inquiry in more detail.

Ground

Ground, the first link in the chain of inquiry represents the need for scholars to base the new design upon what is already known. The researcher must go beyond a traditional literature review, seeking to define the preliminary instructional-design theory or design principles that are used to ground the initial designs (Gravemeijer & Cobb, 2006). In addition, the researcher must gain an understanding of the context where the research will take place because organizational structures will also influence the design (Park & Zhang, 2011).

Enact

Enact, the second link in the chain of inquiry, represents the need to implement the design in a real-world context. Collins, Joseph, & Bielaczyc (2004) emphasize that in education, it is not possible to completely specify a design and that only a particular implementation of the design can be evaluated.

In the field of ID, the instructional designer captures the design in an instructional design document, which is used by an instructional developer to create educational resources, which in-turn is used by teachers to assist in the act of teaching. Together, the creation of educational resources and the act of teaching represent the enactment of the design. The design itself is not a thing that can be evaluated; rather, it is only the enactment of a single instance of the design that can be evaluated, in other words, the thing you are evaluating is the enactment of the design not the design itself. Even though a developer may try to be faithful to the intent of the design when enacting the design instance, it cannot be said that the enactment is the design (Sandoval, 2004) because it will necessarily vary according to the real-world context in which it is enacted. A design can never truly be evaluated: the best that can be done is to enact the design either multiple times or in multiple settings in order gain an understanding of which aspects of the design are reproducible or applicable across different settings. As a result, DBR emphasizes the need for multiple iterations of enactment.

Evaluate

Evaluate, the third link in the change of inquiry, is the means by which DBR uses the act of design and development to help formulate better theories (Edelson, 2002). As noted above, multiple enactments are necessary in DBR. Hoadley (2004) highlights this:

Implementation is one of the core challenges because the design-based researcher recognizes that any findings are composed of the interaction between design and enactment, between the general and the local. Iteration and replication are not checks against dishonest researchers or chance coincidences, but rather the fundamental mechanism for exploring how local and global interact, for probing the edges of design-oriented understandings. (p.211)

The evaluation of the enactments of design contribute to the knowledge and professional development of the research team, because the process of enacting a design is a form of inquiry (Barab & Squire, 2004; Richey & Nelson, 1996; van den Akker, 1999), and this form of inquiry is both informed by theory and informs theory (Brown, 1992; Edelson, 2002; Oh & Reeves, 2010).

Reflect

Reflect, the final link in the DBR chain of inquiry, is the point at which the researchers consider the project in its entirety. This retrospective analysis provides an opportunity for researchers to reflect both on the goals of the project and on the research process itself. The researchers use the information to revise the initial instructional-design theory or design principles used to inform the research design (Gravemeijer & Cobb, 2006). In addition, the retrospective analysis usually includes:

A narrative account (which is story-like, including actors, actions, intentions) of learning and how it can be supported and organized. And, to establish generalizability, the narrative analysis places the study in a broad theoretical context to show if and how the study is a paradigmatic case of the phenomenon under investigation. (Shavelson, Phillips, Towne, & Feuer, 2003, p. 27)

References

Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-Based Research: Putting a Stake in the Ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_1

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. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0202_2

Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_2

Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design research: What we learn when we engage in design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 105-121. doi:10.1207/S15327809JLS1101_4

Gravemeijer, K., & Cobb, P. (2006). Design research from a learning design perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. gravemeijer, S. McKenney, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 17-51). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.routledge.com/

Barab, S., & Squire, K. (2004). Design-Based Research: Putting a Stake in the Ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 1-14. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_1

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. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0202_2

Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_2

Edelson, D. C. (2002). Design research: What we learn when we engage in design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(1), 105-121. doi:10.1207/S15327809JLS1101_4

Gravemeijer, K., & Cobb, P. (2006). Design research from a learning design perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. gravemeijer, S. McKenney, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research (pp. 17-51). Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.routledge.com/

Hoadley, C. (2004). Methodological alignment in design-based research. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 203-212. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3904_2

Oh, E., & Reeves, T. C. (2010). The implications of the differences between design research and instructional systems design for educational technology researchers and practitioners. Educational Media International, 47(4), 263-275. doi:10.1080/09523987.2010.535326

Park, H., & Zhang, Z. (2011). Using design research for studies on ICT in classrooms. Journal of Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 53-65. Retrieved from http://ojs.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/JTL

Richey, C., & Nelson, W. (1996). Development research. In D. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 1213-1245). London: Macmillan.

Sandoval, W. A. (2004). Developing learning theory by refining conjectures embodied in educational designs. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 213-223. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3904_3

Shavelson, R. J., Phillips, D. C., Towne, L., & Feuer, M. J. (2003). On the science of education design studies. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 25-28. doi:10.3102/0013189X032001025

van den Akker, J. (1999). Principles and methods of development research. In J. van den Akker, R. M. Branch, K. Gustafson, N. Nieveen, & T. Plomp (Eds.), Design approaches and tools in education and training (pp. 1-14). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

 

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