DESIGN-BASED RESEARCH: Applications for Distance Education
Simonson, Michael, Quarterly Review of Distance Education
Our companion journal, Educational Technology Research and Development, recently published an excellent paper by Feng Wang and Michael Hannafin dealing with design-based research (2005). It presents interesting, well written, and widely applicable information about a topic many of us are not familiar with: design-based research, which is defined as:
a systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually-sensitive design principles and theories. (p. 7)
Distance education needs designs for effective research that build on the traditional approaches to research. While the Quarterly Review is always eager to publish well-designed experimental research, there is interest in other methodologies as well. Wang and Hannafin discuss an approach that seems clearly appropriate to distance education.
Design-based research is pragmatic. As Wang and Hannafin say, "Researchers address practical issues to promote fundamental understanding about design, learning and teaching" (p. 8). It is grounded, meaning "researchers select a theory about learning and instruction ... they seek to revise and refine that theory-an anchor that determines which interventions should (or should not) be introduced and which should be eliminated" (p 8).
Design-based research is interactive, iterative, and flexible. It "stresses collaboration among participants and researchers through the process . …