Most intervention research in education aims to demonstrate the efficacy of specific programs and practices. The assumption is that if researchers can produce evidence-based programs that work in a variety of settings, educators will take them up on a large scale. Unfortunately, this approach largely neglects the role that out-of-school experiences can and do play in learning, and assumes that contexts are peripheral to intervention success. However, we know from decades of research that contexts profoundly shape the nature and effects of interventions. Further, researchers may produce interventions that are not usable or sustainable when they do so without incorporating the voices of educators, community members, and families.
Design-based research offers a more collaborative approach to organizing for equitable educational change. This approach to developing and testing innovations in classrooms (and other settings) intertwines design and research closely. The essays in this volume draw on inspiration from the work of L.S. Vygotsky and his colleagues, highlighting ways that design research can foreground cultural, historical, and institutional processes as central constituents of learning.
Each essay considers concrete ways that institutional contexts shape interventions; how design can support the agency of local participants in developing new learning arrangements and resources; and how communities can organize both with and without researcher-interventionists to address historical inequities linked to race, language, and poverty. As an ensemble, these essays offer productive new approaches for expanding design research methodologies to encompass both issues and contexts that have often been absent in most learning sciences research.
This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of the Learning Sciences.
About the Author:
William R. Penuel is professor of learning sciences and human development in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA. His current research examines conditions needed to implement rigorous, responsive, and equitable teaching practices in science education.With colleagues from across the country, he is developing and testing new models for supporting implementation through long-term partnerships between educators and researchers.
Michael Cole's research focuses on the role of culture in human development, with a special emphasis on the role of schooling. Since the early 1980's he has engaged in a series of educational intervention projects motivated by theories and methodologies ideas inspired by the work of Russian cultural-historical developmental psychology, combined with ethnographic methods favored by American cultural anthropologists. Relevant publications describing this work include Cultural Psychology (1996) and The Fifth Dimension: An afterschool program built on diversity (2006).
D. Kevin O'Neill is Associate Professor of Education and Technology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. The main focus of his research for the past decade and a half has been the teaching and learning of history with the aid of digital technologies. A more recent focus of his scholarship has been critique of design-based research methodology, and lessons that learning scientists can learn from design in other fields, such as aeronautics and architecture.