Conducting Educational Design Research

Conducting Educational Design Research

Conducting Educational Design Research

Conducting Educational Design Research


Educational design research blends scientific investigation with systematic development and implementation of solutions to educational problems. Empirical investigation is conducted in real learning settings-not laboratories-to craft usable and effective solutions. At the same time, the research is carefully structured to produce theoretical understanding that can serve the work of others.

To support graduate students as well as experienced researchers who are new to this approach, Conducting Educational Design Research integrates multiple perspectives of educational design research throughout this three-part book. Part one clarifies the educational design research origins, approach and outcomes. It also presents a generic model portraying the overall process. Part two discusses the constituent elements of the model in detail, these are: analysis and exploration; design and construction; evaluation and reflection; and implementation and spread. Part three offers recommendations for proposing, reporting and advancing educational design research. Through related readings and richly varied examples, Conducting Educational Design Research offers clear and well-documented guidance on how to conceptualize and conduct this stimulating form of inquiry.

For decades, policies for educational research worldwide have swung back and forth between demanding rigor above all other concerns, and increasing emphasis on impact. These two qualities need not be mutually exclusive. This volume supports readers in grasping and realizing the potential of educational design research. It demonstrates how rigorous and relevant investigation can yield both theoretical understanding and solutions to urgent educational problems.


We entered the field of education because of our passion for working with young people and commitment to facilitating their learning as well as our own. We grew into educational research because we enjoy the challenge and wanted to investigate ways to support others in teaching and learning processes. We gravitated to design research because of its naturally close ties with the practice that is dear to us, and in response to disillusionment with too much educational research that does not, in the short or long term, serve to improve practice. Finally, we have taken up the torch of educating and supporting design researchers because of our conviction that this approach, alongside others, can yield valuable results for both theoretical understanding and educational practice. To introduce this book, we briefly discuss our intentions, the book structure, and the limitations of its linearity.


Design research is a multi-faceted, complex endeavor and, while we do attempt to present some useful ideas about how it can be undertaken in this book, we recognize that this resource cannot speak to every researcher’s needs. In fact, given the rich variation with which educational design research is conducted, we stress that this book is not an attempt to provide “the” authoritative guide to this type of inquiry. In fact, we are not convinced that educational design research has evolved to the point that a definitive guide could be written.

Instead, we share our experiences and views of educational design research in this book, and have made an effort to show where they converge with others in the field. In working with researchers, especially doctoral students, we have grown accustomed to the kinds of questions people often ask about design research. As laid out in the following chapters, we have also found our ways of answering them.

We view undertaking the enterprise of design research, particularly for the first time, as a kind of educational intervention in itself. We know from our own research and experience that sustainable use of new ideas does not come when an intervention focuses on using new resources or changing overt behaviors. Real change can come when we focus not only on what and how things can be . . .

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