Posted by: bbannan | February 11, 2010

Design Research: The Way Forward – Christine

What exactly is design research?  Sure the answer seems obvious, but is it?  I was looking around for articles on the topic of “Design Research in Instructional Technology” and I found myself going in circles.  The basic topic is its own process. A key process that enables educational designers to remain impartial in constructing balanced instructional material.

Finally, the title of an article in Education Canada caught my attention. Contradictory to the title, Design research: The Way Forward. the article first emphasized that the basis of research is evaluating what already exists and providing evidence that supports the best solution for the current situation, rather than inventing or developing innovations to educational problems.  At first, the article it appeared to have a conservative stand as opposed to the many articles I ran across that emphasized ways to improve upon the “best practices.”

Research design is very common with engineering and medical fields. However, as the article pointed out, design research in education is still considered a novelty. As I read the article, my interpretation of the article’s conservative approach changed. I understood the focus was on finding a way forward, or generating progress, as it was stressed that the goal of design research is idea improvement, or education for sustained innovation. Additionally, as information and communication technologies play a prominent role in new education designs, it is imperative that design researchers also understand technology.

The characteristic of design research as outlined by this article are:

–          It requires close collaboration between designers and practitioners

–          It makes things happen

–          It is devoted to remedying perceived shortcomings, overcoming perceived obstacles, and realizing perceived potentialities

–          It is an emergent process

 My favorite quote from the article is, “Although it is questionable whether any kind of research is entirely vue-neutral, design research is inevitably value-laden.”  Research is needed that generates new solutions and creates new possibilities for educational advancement. Whereas quantitative research did not interfere with the classroom and qualitative research became part of the process being studied, design research incorporates teachers, administrators, and researchers in “working together to make something new happen.”




Bereiter, Carl


Education Canada; Winter2005/2006, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p16-19, 4p, 2 color

Document Type:




  1. The article reminds me of action research which we learned about in Educational Research. Action research is used to address challenges in a localized area like a classroom or school. The process can be collaborative between important stakeholders, say teachers and administrators, and research is loosely interpreted as any information that will help better understand the problem.

    Design research sounds similar because, as you pointed out, the goal is to create solutions for a specific problem, affecting a specific group of people and not tackle broad educational issues. The key characteristic of both design research and action research is that the data collected informs the problem solving process, instead of the process informing the data collection.


  2. Hello Christine!

    Quite simply I would have to say that, if we consider the first “D” in ADDIE and think about what research might show us about how to carry out processes within that framework, we’d have our answer.

    As you point out, all research is value-laden. So too, I suspect, would be any research about the DESIGN phase of typical instructional design.
    I liked what Eric had to say in this blog last March 2nd and Bill’s comment on March 21st. As pointed out there, who we are will play a part in deciding how we would approach DESIGN. Understanding ourselves (through personal reflection, mentor evaluation, third-party analysis) will go a long way to seeing why we might approach DESIGN in the way we do. This is very practical research we can do at any time. Beyond that, understanding other’s “patterns” (Bill’s term) or “mindsets” can help us expand our viewpoints to possibly incorporate new and exciting ways to see problems and DESIGN differently.

    In doing so, I agree, design research is very much an emergent process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: