Sunday, March 6, 2016

Education Design Research - Analysis and Exploration

Image by Charlottes Photo Gallery [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]
I am currently taking a course entitled "Design-Based Research." Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how to best create a design-based research project that is both realistic in scope and also helpful for my current role as a teacher educator. Also, I am working on a sort of guided study project concurrently, and I am finding much overlap between these two projects. I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my mind right now, so as I am reflecting on my work over the past few weeks, I will try to distill them into a few key themes.

The first thing I should note is how helpful our text for this course has been for me. McKenney and Reeves’ (2012) Conducting Educational Design Research has been an invaluable resource for me in my current understanding of design-based research in education. I am finding it is written not so much as a how-to manual offering step-by-step instructions for conducting a design-based study, but rather a handbook of advice for the educational design researcher. I find this helpful, because as I am reading more examples of EDR studies, I am finding that there are general patterns in place, but the details of how a particular study is carried out seems to vary quite widely. I suppose this is my muddiest point on creating a design-based study: how concerned do we need to be about the structure of our study?

Our work in this module of the course emphasized the analysis and exploration phase, and I was grateful for the advice provided by McKenney and Reeves (2012) on this topic: “The main goal of analysis during this phase of educational design research is problem definition…the main goal of exploration, which may be conducted alongside analysis activities, is to seek out and learn from how others have viewed and solved similar problems” (p. 85). This is very much what I have been working on through this module: defining the problem and examining what the existing literature on my topic suggests. The problem I am tackling is a big one, but a real one for the students (pre-service teachers) I serve: how can I help them to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for effective technology integration? And as I crafted an initial explanation of this problem and shared it with my classmates for their reactions, I received many helpful questions and comments that helped me to clarify the problem statement and be more deliberate in how I articulated the situation. They definitely served as “critical friends” as recommended by McKenney and Reeves (2012, p. 85). I was able to articulate my own beliefs, as they impact the study I am proposing, and I was able to provide an analysis of the context of the problem, as well as the needs and wishes of the various stakeholders in the project.

Through my review of the literature, I found that there are many perspectives on how to best proceed, but I was encouraged to find so many researchers emphasizing both self-efficacy for technology integration as well as the TPACK framework as means for developing this kind of knowledge and skill. (And this is the part that dovetails nicely with my guided study project, which is also about self-efficacy for technology integration.) I have re-read several pieces over the past week by Peg Ertmer and her colleagues about fostering self-efficacy in preservice teachers (Ertmer, 2005; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010; Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012), and this has been so affirming for me; I believe I am definitely on the right track with my design for this project. I also had the opportunity to re-read Mishra and Koehler’s seminal (2006) piece, “Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge,” which I reference often, but it has been over a year since I read it through. It was a good reminder for me of why I am doing the things I am doing, working with pre-service teachers: helping them to become the most effective they can possibly be! Also, it was interesting for me to take note that Mishra and Koehler used design-based research in their development of the TPACK framework–I had never caught that before, perhaps because I had never really understood what “design-based research” meant.

As I think about the next steps for this project, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, to be honest. Writing a proposal is one thing, but actually implementing it will be quite another! But I should not get the cart before the horse; the scaffolded approach to developing this proposal is quite enough for now. This course has been very encouraging for me so far, and affirming in both what I have learned in terms of the key ideas within our field of educational technology more broadly and my interest of teacher preparation more narrowly, as well as my developing skills as a researcher.



Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 25-39.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 42(3), 255-284.

Ertmer, P.A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A., Sadik, O., Sendurur, E., & Sendurur, P. (2012).Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship.  Computers & Education, 59, 423-435. DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.02.001

McKenney S., & Reeves, T. C. (2012). Conducting educational design research. London: Routledge.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.


  1. A book that describes this process is The Architecture of Learning: Designing Learning for the Learning Brain by Kevin D. Washburn. Published by Clerestory Press in 2010. I started reading it but got lost with the many acronyms and put it down. In light of what I've read in your blog, I may just pick it up again and try once more. Thanks for challenging me to expand my knowledge base.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read! Not the most scintillating post, I know. I'm glad it was an encouragement for you--I have really enjoyed this course.