Research Design | Design-Based Research

Although I am still analyzing data, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about thesis writing in general and writing up design-based research (DBR) in particular.

Since I completed my methodology comps in spring 2004, at least a couple more special issues on design-based research have been published, for example, Educational Psychologist 39(1) and Educational Technology 45(1). I’d been meaning to read these for a while. Reading them with attention to the particular challenges of reporting on DBR methods has been helpful in figuring out areas that I need to work on as I attempt to construct a compelling narrative of the design changes that I made within and across iterations of my study. One article I enjoyed was

Tabak, I. (2004). Reconstructing context: negotiating the tension between exogenous and endogenous educational design. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 225-233.

I like the way Tabak explained how DBR can problematize the context of the research. She asserts that a design-based researcher must balance the exogenous (instructional materials, activity structures, or instructional strategies developed for the purposes of the research) and endogenous (set of materials and practices that are already in place in the local setting; practices in which teachers and students engage as active agents during the enactments) designs. An empirical research example that illustrates the tension between the two designs is provided.

Tabak cites Wenger (1998), and reading the article really reminded me of a research group meeting a couple of years ago in which we were reading about design and communities of practice. We were talking about how it was design was emergent rather than prescriptive–that we can design forlearning, but not design learning (Wenger, 1998, pp. 228-229). The tension between the intended and enacted or emergent designs is one that definitely exists in my research, and I think the article reminded me of the importance of really describing and fleshing out the endogenous design in my write up.


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