Design-based research: A methodological toolkit for engineering change

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80 Scopus citations


Design-based research (DBR) is used to study learning in environments that are designed and systematically changed by the researcher. DBR is not a fixed "cookbook" method; it is a collection of approaches that involve a commitment to studying activity in naturalistic settings, with the goal of advancing theory while at the same time directly impacting practice. The goal of DBR (sometimes also referred to as design experiments) is to use the close study of learning as it unfolds within a naturalistic context that contains theoretically inspired innovations, usually that have passed through multiple iterations, to then develop new theories, artifacts, and practices that can be generalized to other schools and classrooms. In describing design-based research, Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, and Schauble stated: Prototypically, design experiments entail both "engineering" particular forms of learning and systematically studying those forms of learning within the context defined by the means of supporting them. This designed context is subject to test and revision, and the successive iterations that result play a role similar to that of systematic variation in experiment. (Cobb et al., 2003, p. 9) This iterative design process allows the researcher to move beyond simply understanding the world as it is, and involves working to change it in useful ways with the broader goal of examining how these systematic changes influence learning and practice (Barab & Squire, 2004). This innovative aspect of design-based research makes it a useful methodology for advancing new theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139519526
ISBN (Print)9781107033252
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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