Leveraging Learning Sciences and Design-based Research to enhance learning
Concurrent Session 5
We all want to improve student learning, but how do we do it? How do we know what's working, and why? Developed by Anne Brown (1992), design-based research provides a simple and yet effective paradigm for the data-driven iterative development and improvement of curriculum that anyone can use to help improve the teaching and learning experience.
We all want to improve student learning, but how do we do it? How do we know what's working in the classroom, how well it’s working and perhaps most importantly, why it’s working? Though these questions are challenging to answer in many cases, there are helpful frameworks and methodologies available to help practitioners answer them in their own context and towards their own intended goals.
Design-Based Research (DBR) was developed by Anne Brown (1992), and provides a simple and yet effective paradigm for the data-driven iterative development and improvement of curriculum that anyone can use to help improve the teaching and learning experience. DBR involves multiple iterations of design through rigorous evaluation of available metrics, both quantitative and qualitative methods to provide a picture of rich data. Interviews, surveys, and digital ethnographies help illuminate the complex activities that occur in an online learning environment in ways not previously practiced widely.
In this session, you will see several examples of Design-Based Research applied to specific challenges in online learning, and hear lessons learned which will benefit your institution. At Ashford University and Bridgepoint Education, we have created a robust innovation pilot agenda, overseen by a cross-institutional committee that has led to scaling of projects which impact student and institutional success through DBR. These include adaptive learning integration, improving student persistence and retention, and humanizing the online learning experience.
One specific example of innovation driven through DBR which will be shared is BUS401: Principles of Finance, a course that was chosen as part of an adaptive learning pilot currently underway at Ashford University. What started out as a traditional course with discussion forums and written assignments has been transformed through DBR to a new and exciting learning experience for both students and faculty. With direct contact and mentoring from the instructor through asynchronous video-based exchanges, the focus has been shifted from the acquisition of fixed knowledge for future application, to the application of knowledge in a specific and relevant context.
Each week, the need for the assignment deliverable is situated within a micro-learning scenario that provides helpful context and purpose for the tasks at hand. Through this shift, students are able to build culturally-relevant artifacts, demonstrate agency, and tailor their learning to their particular interests. From the teaching and mentoring perspective, these projects and mentoring sessions provide rich data that allows for deep and meaningful assessment outside of the assignment rubric. These opportunities for connection, trust, and collaboration not only improve learning and experience—these opportunities improve the students’ own perception of their abilities and evolution of their identity within the domain of practice.
Through active construction of knowledge anchored in real world experience and artifacts, students will be better prepared to enter the workforce as contributors in their given discipline or field. This would not have been possible if not for the application of this powerful framework, which can be adapted for almost any situation.
Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex
interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of The Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141–178.