Change Research

Transformational Educational Technologies

Wk 4
Wk 7
Wk 10
Wk 12
Wk 1
Wk 2
Wk 3
Wk 4
Wk 5
Wk 6
Wk 7
Wk 8
Wk 9
Wk 10
Wk 11
Wk 12

Unit 1 Aims

Week 1 Learning Outcomes

The focus of this course is on the use of research to support changes in educational practice though the adoption and use of various educational technologies, but not just any change, transformational change, that moves educational practice from one form to another. 

While there are many models to support such changes, we will be exploring research informed processes, and indeed research generating processes that through studying a change process, help us better understand how and why such changes occur.

This week we will be exploring three such research processes that are commonly used when seeking to make such changes: Action, Design and Design-Based research.

Week 1 Recording

Week 1 Slides

Week 1 Learning Activities

Complete this weeks readings and responses to Teams before the tutorial so that you can effectively contribute to the discussion.

Action Research

Action Research seeks transformative change through the simultaneous process of taking action and doing research, which are linked together by critical reflection.

Action research aims to contribute both to a research community and to practitioners in a specific problematic situation. 

“Action research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by joint collaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework” (Rapoport, 1970).

It provides benefit to both the research community and to the practitioners involved, adding to our knowledge (research community benefit) and solving an immediate practical problem (practitioner benefit).

Action research can be applied in three main spectrums:

Action research involves a cycle of planning (input), action (transformation), and results (output), with each stage informing the next.

Watch the video What is action research?

Action Research Stages


Post to Teams. What are the key differences between Action Research and Experimental Research?

Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8.
Goldkuhl, G. (2013). Action research vs. design research: using practice research as a lens for comparison and integration. In The 2nd international SIG Prag workshop on IT Artefact Design & Workpractice Improvement (ADWI-2013), 5 June, 2013, Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Post to Teams. What are the key differences between Action Research and Design Research?

Design  Research

Design Research is the iteration of build and evaluate activities to develop an artifact..

The result from design research are the artefacts designed and produced, generally without the development of a theory of how or why these were developed. Such artificats could be anything from a lesson activity, a general educational technology such as video conferencing, or a specific educational technology such as an interactive multimedia application to teach a specific concept. They key is that it needs to be designed and refined through an iterative process of prototyping, testing and evaluation.

Design Research Stages

Practice Research is a combination of Design Research and Action Research.

Practice research is sub-divided into a researcher-driven theorising part and a situational inquiry which is conducted usually through collaboration between researchers and practitioners. 

Within the research community there is debate over who can validly create artefacts (e.g. Educational Technologies) used in interventions, researchers, practitioners, or it does not matter.

There is also debate over the applicability of practice research to develop solutions to specific vs general problems, i.e. that which exist only for a particular organisation, or would exist in many organisations.

While unlike Action Research, Design Research does not generally require theorising, e.g. about why an intervention occurred, Design-Based Research incorporates this theoretical analysis.

Design-Based Research 

Design-based research (DBR) is a research methodology used by researchers in the learning sciences, which is a sub-field of education. The basic process of DBR involves developing solutions (called "interventions") to problems. Then, the interventions are put to use to test how well they work. Such interventions can be much broader than the artefacts developed by Design Research, but could involve artefacts.

Design-based research is a systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually-sensitive design principles and theories (Wang and Hannafin, 2005).

Design-Based Research (DBR) is also a lens or set of analytical techniques that balance the positivist and interpretivist paradigms and attempts to bridge theory and practice in education. A blend of empirical educational research with the theory-driven design of learning environments, DBR is an important methodology for understanding how, when, and why educational innovations work in practice; DBR methods aim to uncover the relationships between educational theory, designed artefact, and practice.

Research that is detached from practice “may not account for the influence of contexts, the emergent and complex nature of outcomes, and the incompleteness of knowledge about which factors are relevant for prediction” (Design-based Research Collective, 2003)

DBR can:


Characteristics of DBR


Design Research compared to Design-Based Research

Design Research

Result driven

Has documentation but for the purpose differently

Not for generalisation

Design-based Research

Based on prior research

Research driven

Has research goals & empirical results

Comprehensive and cumulative documentation that helps retrospective analysis


Action Research compared to Design-Based Research

Action Research

Design-based Research

Both identify real-world problems

Practitioners are both involved in the research process

Researcher initiated

Theory based

Practitioner initiated

Problem based

Come to the tutorial prepared to discuss the differences between Action, Design and Design-Based Research.

Designing and building an on-line community The struggle to support sociability in the inquiry learning forum.pdf
Barab, S. A., MaKinster, J. G., Moore, J. A., & Cunningham, D. J. (2001). Designing and building an on-line community: The struggle to support sociability in the inquiry learning forum. Educational Technology research and development, 49(4), 71-96.

Come to the tutorial prepared to discuss how educators can work with researchers to conduct Design-Based Research. Sacha in this video describes his Design-Based Research with a teacher to develop an online learning space educational technology artifact and the reading presents the research of their Design-Based Research study in developing an online community space.

Approaches to presenting Design-Based Research

Design-Based Research is generally presented in a standard structure of literature review, methodology, results, and discussion, with the following among the possible structures.

I. Intro

II. Lit review/research questions

III. Methods: DBR

  A. description of context

  B. description of DBR generally

  C. initial research plan

IV. Design narrative: description of iterations

V. Results

VI. Discussion

I. Intro

II. Lit review/research questions

III. Methods

  A. description of context

  B. description of DBR generally

IV. Iteration 1

  A. questions and design propositions

  B. design narrative

  C. data + analysis (findings)

  D. discussion

V. Iteration 2

VI. Iteration 3

VII. Results and discussion across iterations

I. Intro

II. Lit review/research questions

III. Methods

  A. description of context

  B. description of DBR generally

  C. Quick design narrative across iterations

IV. Theme 1

  A. questions and data sources across iterations

  B. analysis (findings)

  C. discussion

V. Theme 2

VI. Theme 3

... and so on

VII. Discussion across themes

Come to the tutorial, having watched the Cobb video, prepared to discuss what theories can be produced by Design-Based Research in relation to Educational Technologies research, how these can be generalised to other situations, and what is currently the key weakness of Design-Based Research.

Educational Technologies

In developing Design-Based Research  involving educational technologies interventions, it is useful to understand the scope of what Educational Technologies exist, and from which you can select to explore in your Design-Based Research.

Types of Educational Technologies interventions

There are many types of research conducted on Educational Technologies and you can explore these further in the EduTechWiki.

In this course we will be focusing on a set of research methodologies and methods that can be used to better understand how education technologies can transform education practice in educational organisations. First you will develop a Design-Based Research proposal incorporating Social-Ecological Modelling (that you will explore next week). Then you will use Systems Modelling to develop a theoretical model of the interactions and consequences of your proposed intervention on your educational organisation. You will then explore policy research to develop a set of policies for your educational organisation that will support your proposed transformation, and finally you will present your organisational transformation plan to your course mates. If you are unfamiliar with the range of available Educational Technologies and would like more ideas around which to base your Design-Based Research proposal, the EduTech Wiki may also assist.

Design-Based Research study proposal (Due Monday Week 4)

It is important to remember that you will not be conducting or presenting the outcomes of a Design-Based Research study, you are presenting a proposal for a Design-Based Research study, arguing the benefit of your approach and the outcome you hope to achieve. 

Further details of the Design-Based Research study proposal task are available.