Design Experiments in Educational Research
Cobb, P., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003)
In this article Cobb et al., explain the ideal characteristics, context and what is involved in “conducting a design experiment”. Design experiments are not only empirically ways of tuning what works; rather they exist to develop humble theories that target domain-specific learning processes. Design experiments are distinguishable by three characteristics: they are extended (iterative), interventionist (innovative and design-based), and theory-oriented enterprises whose “theories” do real work in practical educational contexts” (pg. 13).
The five main purposes of design experiments are:
- To develop theories about “both the process of learning and the means that are designed to support that learning” in various contexts (e.g classrooms, school districts, organizations etc.).
- To “investigate the possibilities for educational improvement by bringing about new forms of learning in order to study them.” This makes the methodology different from others because of it interventionist nature.
- Are prospective and reflective and put in “harm’s way” for testing
- As assumptions are proven or refuted, others are generated thereby resulting in an iterative design process
- Theories developed are not only “concerned with domain specific learning processes,” but are also “accountable to the activity of design”
My take away from the article:
The importance of design experiments methodology and the hallmark characteristic is the “intimate relationship between the development of theory and the improvement of instructional design for bringing about new forms of learning” (pg.13).
Cobb, P., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9-13.